Denise Duhamel Comments on Light Verse

Denise Duhamel at Books and Books from Andrew Hevia on Vimeo.

Over at Fans of Denise Duhamel OR A Group of Duhamalites, Denise answers a question a month from a member of the FB Group. I’m sharing the May question and answer.

Question from Dustin Brookshire:
Recently, Steve Fellner (poet and critic) wrote an entry in his blog, Pansy Poetics, analyzing some of your poetry. His blog entry led to a series of great comments from his readers and a discussion on Light Verse in your work. The comments have led me to ask this: What role do you think Light Verse plays in contemporary poetry? (Click here for Steve’s post on Denise’s work.)

Denise Duhamel’s Answer:
I saw that. At first, I must admit that I was horrified that Steve Fellner—whose work I love! I chose is first book for the Marsh Hawk prize—thought some of my poems were “light verse.” In my mind, light verse was synonymous with silliness. I guest-edited an issue of a literary magazine Ocho called “Florida Funnies” and I am now co-editing an issue of essays about humor in contemporary poetry for a linguistics magazine Humor. I hadn’t really even brought up the term light verse. I think, as Sean points out in one of the blog comments, “because of consumer culture, light=less than? Less calories, less fat, less flavor?” I thought that too. I even thought “Lite Poetry.” But researching light verse, and seeing its long and proud tradition, I am happy to be included. (Puns? Guilty as charged. Alliteration? Guilty as charged. Wordplay? Guilty as charge.) A lot of poets feel similarly afraid of the term “confessional,” which has recently gotten a bad rap. So poets with confessional leanings might deny they are writing confessional poetry or try to call it something else. In any case, in the end, I am happy that Steve associated my work with light verse—or even camp. While Steve is perfectly correct in quoting Sontag, she also says that camp is a way of consuming or performing culture “in quotation marks.” And I really do feel I try to do that, so I’m no longer leery of the labels light verse or camp. I like Steve’s blog for the questions it raises about contemporary poetry and trying to categorize it. Do you remember that clapping song? Categories, names of…Colors…Then each child would clap and say a color until they couldn’t think of any more. We could do the same for Poetry.

Child one: Categories.

Child two: Names of.

Child one: Poetry

Child two: Light verse.

Child one: Confessional.

Child two: L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E.

Child one: Formal.

Child two: Post-confessional.

Child one: Transgressive.

Child two: Of Witness.

Child one: Neo-formal.

Child two: Feminist.

Child one: New York School.

Child two: New York School—second generation.

Child one: New York School—third generation.

Child two: Oulipo.

Child two: Harlem Renaissance.

Child one: Nature.

Child one: Surreal.

Child two: Beat.

Child one: Romantic.

Child two: Modern.

Child one: Post-modern.

Child two: Dada.

Child two: Prose poems.

Child one: Haiku.

Child one: Pansy Poetics…

Having said that, I think Light Verse may play a part in contemporary American poetry in that it’s a way to fight back against the jingle, the slogan, our consumer culture. Maybe we need tee shirts? Heavyweights of Light Verse.

Busy Day: KSU LGBT Summit & Poet’s Dinner



I started off my day by going to Kennesaw State University for the KSU LGBT Summit. I gave a “lecture” on Online Social Networking– Myspace, Twitter, Facebook, and the Blogosphere. I listened in on a presentation by Melanie Janus, and she was great. I’ll give you one line from her presentation: “Capitalism may have taken my virginity, but Coke-Cola called me back the next day.” I won’t elaborate because I plan on interviewing her for I Was Born Doing Reference Work in Sin.

I think my part went well. I received a number of compliments, and I was happy that a handful of students stuck around after to chit-chat. Good times.

Then… There was a flat tire:
Unfortunately, I was stuck on the bridge that you see in the background of this picture. Luckily, I was able to make to asphalt. I was a bit nervous during the whole incident.

THEN…. It was off to the Poet’s Dinner!

In the front: Cleo Creech and Beth Gylys.
The rest– L to R: Dustin Brookshire, Julie Bloemeke, Megan Volpert, Collin Kelley Rupert Fike, and Christine Swint

It was yet another great time with talented poets.

Tomorrow: FaBoStaMe ’09

FaBoStaMe 2009 kicks off tomorrow. I’m excited! I am slated for my 30 status updates in 30 minutes from 6 to 6:30PM (EDT). Visit the FaBoStaMe 2009 event page on Facebook. Add the people involved. Lookout for our status updates. I am using 30 to announce exciting news.

Dana Guthrie Martin (pictured to the left) deserves a pat on the back for organizing this collaboration. (Thank you, Dana!) If you haven’t visited her blog, mutating the signature, well, you are missing out. Don’t forget: Dana is also in Stealing Fire.

Update Time: Limp Wrist to Fundraising to Project Verse and More!

(1) I was happy with the current status of fundraising for Limp Wrist until this weekend when I received word that $750 is not the fee for the Juniper part of the scholarship. The total amount is $1,030– $750 covers tuition and meals plus $280 to cover a dorm room for the scholarship recipient.

With this in mind, I want to remind you that tomorrow is the last day to enter in the Limp Wrist raffle. Click here for the details and for pictures of the items. I’m very happy to say the funds from the raffle are TAX DEDUCTIBLE and go to support the inaugural Limp Wrist Scholarship.

(2) Ellen Bass, Maureen Seaton, and Dorianne Laux have blurbed Stealing Fire.

Stealing Fire is, by turns, delightful, ironic, witty, stabbing, sobering, intoxicating. I didn’t want it to end. ~ Ellen Bass, author of The Human Line

The ordering process for Stealing Fire is going to be a tad bit different than originally mentioned; however, it will still be easy! After covering the production costs of the chapbooks, all funds raised will go to the Limp Wrist scholarship fund.

(3) If you are on Facebook, join the cool kids in checking out:
Fans of Denise Duhamel OR A Group of Duhamalites
Fans of Dorianne Laux
Fans of Laure-Anne Bosselaar
The Joe Milford Poetry Show

(4) I am participating in Dana Guthrie Martin’s FaBoStaMe 2009. I plan to use my 30 updates in 30 minutes to announce something big.

(5) I have started consulting with poetess Stacie Boschma on an Atlanta Project. I love that she is just as thrilled as I am about it. This is not the big announcement that is mentioned in #4. This will stay secret for a bit longer as it is to die for.

(6) Project Verse should be kicking off in late April. I received 39 applications, each ranging between 15 to 19 pages. I am giving each application the attention it needs; therefore, it is very time consuming.

Contest Open to Facebook Peeps


If you are a member of the Fans of Denise Duhamel OR A Group of Duhamalites on Facebook, you can participate in a Duhamel Scavenger-Poetic-Hunt to earn a chance to win an autographed copy of KA-CHING!, which is due out Spring ’09.

Below you’ll find lines from four Duhamel poems. You have to identify the name of the poem the lines were taken from. You should notice a theme around the lines selected—-Denise selected the lines in honor of KA-CHING!’s release.

You have to identify 3 out of the 4 correctly to earn a chance to win an autographed KA-CHING! All answers should be sent in the body of an email to dustinvbrookshire@gmail.com with a subject line of “Denise Contest.”

1.
I feel drunk when I spend too much money.

2.
After years of promoting glitzy consumerism,
Barbie decides to repent.

3.
You could stuff envelopes, a penny apiece,
in the privacy of your own home.

4.
but I wasn’t sad that I wouldn’t have the money to go to school tomorrow
or that my diet was shot and I actually remember feeling kind of rich

Happy Hunting!

For You Hookers, I Mean Facebook-ers

I created a Facebook Group titled Fans of Denise Duhamel OR A Group of Duhamalites. If you’re on Facebook and enjoy the work of Denise Duhamel, well, you should this group ASAP. The exciting part about the group is I’ve started Denise’s Question of the Month. Members of the group submit questions; one question will be answered each month by Denise, and I’ll post the question with answer on the group page. (Cool beans, I know!)

Join the Fcebook Fan Pages I created in honor of:
Limp Wrist
Kim Addonizio
Laure-Anne Bosselaar
Dorianne Laux