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About this Poem 

“Every once in a while a person unfamiliar with contemporary literature asks me a question along the lines of, ‘What is your poetry like? What’s it about?’ Having recently fumbled through an answer yet once again, I jealously thought of the beauty of a painter’s ‘artist statement.’ That was the impetus for this poem.”
—Denise Duhamel

Artistic Statement

My body of work is very similar to my corporal body. I often employ traditional forms (Spanx/dieting) but just as often revert to a more copious mode (cake/lazy afternoons). In that I wear little makeup (sensitive skin/feminist stance) I use few purely poetic flourishes except for rhyme—both internal and end line (lipstick/nail polish) conceding to self-conscious artifice. Perhaps because I grew up Catholic, I am drawn to acrostics (crosses) and punitive syllable counting (the rosary). I am interested in bodies seen and not seen (bikinis, muumuus, the dead and not-yet-born), poems written and yet-to-be-written. Holy ghost poems that cannot be read but only felt.  

Copyright © 2016 by Denise Duhamel. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 17, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Denise Duhamel. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 17, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Denise Duhamel

Denise Duhamel

Born in 1961, Denise Duhamel is the author of numerous books and chapbooks of poetry, including Blowout (University of Pittsburgh, 2013).

by this poet

poem
They decide to exchange heads.
Barbie squeezes the small opening under her chin 
over Ken's bulging neck socket. His wide jaw line jostles
atop his girlfriend's body, loosely,
like one of those novelty dogs
destined to gaze from the back windows of cars.
The two dolls chase each other around the orange Country
poem
—to Sean Penn

I'm writing this on a plane, Sean Penn,
with my black Pilot Razor ballpoint pen.
Ever since 9/11, I'm a nervous flyer. I leave my Pentium
Processor in Florida so TSA can't x-ray my stanzas, penetrate
my persona. Maybe this should be in iambic pentameter,
rather than this mock sestina, each
poem

I love Fresh Market but always feel underdressed
squeezing overpriced limes. Louis Vuitton,
Gucci, Fiorucci, and all the ancient East Coast girls
with their scarecrow limbs and Joker grins.
Their silver fox husbands, rosy from tanning beds,
steady their ladies who shuffle along in Miu Miu’s