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About this poet

In 1961, Denise Duhamel was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. She received a BFA degree from Emerson College and a MFA degree from Sarah Lawrence College.

She is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including: Blowout (University of Pittsburgh, 2013), Ka-Ching! (University of Pittsburgh, 2009), and Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems (University of Pittsburgh, 2001).

Her other books currently in print are Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems (University of Pittsburgh, 2001), The Star-Spangled Banner, winner of the Crab Orchard Poetry Prize (1999); Kinky (1997); Girl Soldier (1996); and How the Sky Fell (1996). Duhamel has also collaborated with the poet Maureen Seaton on several volumes, including Caprise: Collected, Uncollected, & New Collaborations (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2015), Little Novels (Pearl Editions, 2002), and Exquisite Politics (Tia Chucha Press, 1997).

In response to Duhamel's collection Smile!Edward Field says, "More than any other poet I know, Denise Duhamel, for all the witty, polished surface of her poems, communicates the ache of human existence."

Duhamel has received grants and awards from numerous organizations, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and she served as the guest editor of The Best American Poetry 2013. She teaches creative writing and literature at Florida International University and lives in Hollywood, Florida.

Selected Bibliography

Blowout (University of Pittsburgh, 2013)
Ka-Ching! (University of Pittsburgh, 2009)
Two and Two (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005)
Mille et un sentiments (Firewheel Editions, 2005)
Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems (University of Pittsburgh, 2001)
The Star-Spangled Banner (Southern Illinois University Press, 1999)
Kinky (Orchises Press, 1997)
The Woman With Two Vaginas (Salmon Run Press, 1994)
Smile! (Warm Spring Press, 1993)

Buddhist Barbie

In the 5th century B.C.
an Indian philosopher
Gautama teaches "All is emptiness" 
and "There is no self." 
In the 20th century A.D.
Barbie agrees, but wonders how a man 
with such a belly could pose, 
smiling, and without a shirt.

From Kinky, Orchises Press, 1997. Reprinted with permission of Denise Duhamel.

From Kinky, Orchises Press, 1997. Reprinted with permission of Denise Duhamel.

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

I stopped drinking on my way down the hill
to the liquor store when two guys pulled up
and tried to drag me into their pickup. I crossed the street
then ran in the opposite direction, puffing
against the incline. The stranger thrust into reverse 
and, when I wouldn't talk to him,
threw a bag of McDonald’s trash
Men are legally allowed to have sex with animals,
as long as the animals are female.
Having sexual relations with a male animal
is taboo and punishable by death.

As long as the fish are female
saleswomen in tropical fish stores are allowed to go topless.
Adultery is punishable by death
as long as the betrayed
The perfect voter has a smile but no eyes,
maybe not even a nose or hair on his or her toes,
maybe not even a single sperm cell, ovum, little paramecium.
Politics is a slug copulating in a Poughkeepsie garden.
Politics is a grain of rice stuck in the mouth
of a king. I voted for a clump of cells,
anything to