2023 Spring Literary Festival welcomes poet Denise Duhamel on March 29-30

Published: March 17, 2023 Author: Campbell Haynes, English graduate student in the College of Arts and Sciences

Renowned Poet Denise Duhamel will visit Ohio University for the 2023 Spring Literary Festival, with free public readings and lectures on March 29-30.

Duhamel has published a number of collections of poetry, has received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and has had work included in several volumes of Best American Poetry, as well as serving as a guest editor there in 2013. Duhamel earned a BFA at Emerson College and an MFA at Sarah Lawrence College. She is a professor of Creative Writing and literature at Florida International University.

Her collections of poetry include "Second Story" (2021), "Scald" (2017), "Blowout" (2013), a finalist for a Nation Books Critics Circle Award, "Ka-Ching!" (2009), "Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems" (2009) and "Kinky " (1997).

Duhamel has cited Dylan Thomas and Kathleen Spivack as influences in her early writings. Her poems address issues of politics, love and emotions of both loss and discovery, the machinations in which writers engage, and the stresses and terrors of contemporary life. Her tone is simultaneously playful and fierce, exuberant and angry, and her poems are filled with a mood both fierce and amused.

In A Different Story, contained in her 2013 volume, "Blowout", she confronts her own poetic larceny. She describes how, after lunching with a friend who asks if she sometimes “steals stories from other people’s lives,” she doesn’t confess her own theft of the woman’s life but rushes out to “get it all done before someone else does.”

"Second Story," her most recent (2021) volume, contains, among others, a trio of wonderful satires and excoriations about recent politics, including Forty-Five Noun, which is a breathless litany of names to call a certain president of the United States. In another, Damnation Nation,  the poem pounds the meaning into us with its drumbeat of rhymes and reiterations of words ending in “ation” as it almost savagely chants the “damnation” resulting from political wrongdoing and the “indoctrination of hate.” In Howl she performs an astounding pastiche of Ginsberg’s original of the same title, with a tip of the hat or two to T. S. Eliot, recognizing how the “best minds” of the current and next generations demand sanity in a damaged America.

Duhamel is brilliantly subversive, making her ideas and images dance before the reader, and inviting us to come on her journey with her. Athens is fortunate to have her visiting for Spring Literary Festival.

Spring 2023 Literary Festival Schedule

Wednesday, March 29

7:30 p.m. Barrie Jean Borich lecture

8:30 p.m. Denise Duhamel reading

Thursday, March 30

10 a.m.: Megan Giddings lecture

11 a.m.: Denise Duhamel lecture

5 p.m.: Barrie Jean Borich reading

6 p.m.: Megan Giddings reading

See more Spring Literary Festival news.