Sunday, May 6, 2012

critical 6

Denise Duhamel uses several different forms in her book “Ka-Ching”. She wrote a few sestinas in her book. Specifically in the poem “Delta Flight 659” Duhamel ended each line with a word that has ‘pen’ in it. This gave the poem a sort of obsessive feel to it. It made it obvious that the poem was directed at Sean Penn, and made it seem like she was accusing him in a way. The poem showed that her political beliefs differed from his. This form also makes some of lines seem forced. For example, at the end of the forth stanza Duhamel says, “…poets who waddle toward your icy peninsula of glamour like so many menacing penguins”. This seems forced because ‘menacing penguins’ seem so random. Duhamel is limiting herself by making each line ending with the word ‘pen’.  This can also confuse the reader and take away from the meaning of the poem. For example, “Delta Flight 659” is about the war in Iraq, but the ‘menacing penguins’ might distract the reader.

Unlike “Delta Flight 659” Duhamel uses a different form in her poem “Hurricane Katrina”. Instead of a sestina she took two quotes and mixes their words into a few different, disjointed phrases. The quotes are “I used to think maybe you loved me, now baby I’m sure…” said by Katrina and the Waves. The second quote is, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” said by Kanye West. Her first choice in quotes alludes to Hurricane Katrina because of the band title. The second one was said in reference to President George Bush’s response after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. By just using these words Duhamel is greatly limiting what she can say. The difficulty of this is shown in her poem. Specifically when she says, “Babies care about babies”. It seems like all of the lines are supposed to relate to Hurricane Katrina in some way, but this one doesn’t seem to. However, this form does allow Duhamel to use language creatively. For example, she uses the word ‘wave’ in two different ways. She says, “The black waves didn’t care and went west.” This alludes to the waves caused by the hurricane. She also says, “George Bush doesn’t wave.” Here she uses waves like a person waving.

Another form Denise Duhamel uses is a villanelle. She uses one in her poem “Please Don’t Sit Like a Frog, Sit Like a Queen.” This poem is based off some graffiti she found in a bathroom. In this poem the lines she repeats are “Remember to pamper, remember to preen” and “Don’t sit like a frog, sit like a queen”.  While this helps her promote self pride in women and poke fun at what society things women should be like, the rhyming limits how and what she can say. She is limited to words that rhyme with ‘queen’ and ‘preen’. She also limited herself to only using words that rhyme with ‘girl’ and ‘earl’. The rhyming and line repeating force her to say things that don’t seem to go together. An example is in the forth stanza. Duhamel says, “Smile, especially when you’re feeling mean. Keep your top down when you take your car for a whirl.” These lines have different topics. In one she is talking about hiding true feelings and/or being the bigger person in a bad situation. In the other she is talking about driving. In a way these lines contradict each other. In the first line she is suggesting that women should put on a happy face and put aside what could be bothering them. In the other, Duhamel is suggesting that women show off.  

1 comment:

  1. Ellen,

    You're approaching a thesis in this post. You seem down on form. State that clearly and then show us why specifically by quoting the language.

    That said, you also seem to want to point out that form can propel poets into creative use of language, into memorable use, into fun use.

    This seems like a great time to say a) Form hurts Duhamel's ability to express herself naturally b) on the other hand, her unnatural expressions can be invigorating.

    A thesis like this would open your readers' eyes, right? He/she wasn't sure what to think about Duhamel's use of form, and now you've given him/her two ways to think about it.

    This stuff is in the post, but it doesn't seem like you're intentionally organizing to give us an overarching point.