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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)

Exquisite Politics

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 believe in, true as rain, sure as red wheat.
I carried my ballots around like smokes, pondered big questions,
resources and need, stars and planets, prehistoric
languages. I sat on Alice's mushroom in Central Park,
smoked longingly in the direction of the mayor's mansion.
Someday I won't politic anymore, my big heart will stop
loving America and I'll leave her as easy as a marriage,
splitting our assets, hoping to get the advantage
before the other side yells: Wow! America,
Vespucci's first name and home of free and brave, Te amo.

From Exquisite Politics. Copyright © 1997 Denise Duhamel and Maureen Seaton. Reprinted by permission of Tia Chucha Press.

From Exquisite Politics. Copyright © 1997 Denise Duhamel and Maureen Seaton. Reprinted by permission of Tia Chucha Press.

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

my mother pushed my sister out of the apartment door with an empty 
suitcase because she kept threatening to run away  my sister was sick of me
getting the best of everything  the bathrobe with the pink stripes instead of
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
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