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Getting to know: Denise Duhamel.

April 19, 2010 \pm\30 12:19 pm

You know how poets use popular culture objects and refer to rock bands and TV sitcoms all the time these days? How easy, even expected, it is to do that in a poem now? You do know it wasn’t always like that, don’t you? Alongside David Trinidad, Denise Duhamel holds the title of the OG-pioneer of the pop culture poem. Respect!

Duhamel perhaps most famously writes pop culture poems with Barbie or Olive Oyl or Jesus as her proxy/stand-in/objective correlative. A closer look reveals that each one of her book projects is a field of wild pop culture embrace, taking the field of the poem by force (get the Williams allusion or not; that’s up to you).  She is also a champion of collaborative poems: there’s the Olive Oyl project with Maureen Seaton, just for starters; then ther’es Saints of Hysteria, the absolutely essential anthology of collaborative poetry she co-edited with Seaton and Trinidad. Her new book of collaborative poems with Amy Lemmon, ABBA: The Poems, says it all. Do check out her new and selected collection, Queen for a Day, as well as her latest solo outing,  Ka-Ching!

We asked Duhamel these questions on a balmy night in Hollywood, FL upon returning from a trip to New York City where she read at The New School. Her eyes were a bit blurry, her wet hair twisted in a towel as she’d just taken a shower and was ready for bed.  She was waiting for Chelsea Lately to come on at 11 pm on E!  She feared that if she fell asleep before 11 pm, she’d wake up before dawn the next day. We’re glad she stayed up!

Full Name: Denise Duhamel
Age: 48 (Same age as Boy George)
Height: 5’7’’ (4 inches shorter than Boy George)
Currently Live: Hollywood, FL
Hometown: Woonsocket, RI
Instruments: Accordion, electric organ, tambourine, spoons, scalpel
Car: 2002 Honda Civic (smooth ride)
Secret Talent: Forgery

What is the best thing about your job? I have red Venetian blinds in my office.

What was your most embarrassing audition moment? Misunderstanding.  Awkwardly having to decline a threesome.

If you could live in any past era which would it be and why? The Paleolithic era, because of goddess worship.

Who is your role model and why? Andrea Dworkin because she wrote the sentence: “I dream that love without tyranny is possible.”

What do you do for fun? Dance.

Do you have a good luck charm?

Wackiest fan encounter: A grad student who claimed to have read all my books threw up on me at an AWP conference.

Before I die, I want to: ride in a hot air balloon.

When I fly I have to have: shoes that easily slip off.

If I had to spend $10 at my favorite fast food joint, I’d order: an Auntie Anne’s pretzel dog.

My coolest article of clothing: my pink and blue striped rain boots.

My first financial splurge was: a plaid maxi coat (junior high).

When friends come over, we: eat finger foods.

Do you like to cook? No.

TV show I never miss: The Suze Orman Show.

If you could interview any celeb whom would it be and why? Madonna.  She’s done everything I want to do.

Anything about yourself you wish you could change? The past. (Just 3 or 4 days.)

I’ll eat sushi, but not: fried clams.

What are your best and worst subjects in school? English, best.  Gym, worst.

If you could be granted 3 wishes, they’d be 1) world peace, 2) a faster metabolism, and 3) that my mortgage would be paid off in a lump sum.

If I could gay-marry anyone in the world, he/she would be Rosario Dawson.

Where on earth are you most dying to go? The Galapagos Islands.

What’s the last thing that made you cry? A Tony Hoagland poem.

Do you ever wish you could just be a normal kid? Yes.

What would people be surprised to know about you? That being social exhausts me.

If you had to name one song as your theme song, what would it be?
Blossom Dearie’s “Rhode Island Is Famous For You.”

Have you had a starstruck Hollywood experience? Yes.

Who was it with? Sandra Bernhard, but I was too nervous to talk to her.

Favorite Actor/Actress:
Sean Penn/Susan Sarandon
Favorite Movie:
Something Wild
Favorite Body Part: Earlobes
Favorite Singer:
Favorite Song: “Who Knew”
Favorite Candy: Goetz’s Bullseye Caramel
Favorite Philospher: My Uncle Wil
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Rum raisin
Favorite Sport: Scrabble
Favorite Sports Team: Woonsocket Senior Bowling League
Favorite Athlete: Billie Jean King
Favorite Book: The Catcher in the Rye
Cell Phone or iPod: Cell phone
Summer or Winter: Summer
Ice Skating or Gymnastics: Gymnastics
LA or New York: New York
Skiing or Snowboarding: Hot Chocolate
Chocolate or Flowers: Chocolate
Dogs or Cats: Allergic.  Fish?


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