Saturday, January 21, 2012

Barbie and Lucky Fish displayed in a paginated aquarium

I've been brainstorming for the next Encyclopedia Show at A.S.U.'s Empty Space Theater (Friday Jan. 27th - 7pm). The subject is U.S. Vice Presidents, this time around. But I needed a break, so here are a few of the books I chose to giveaway during my recent Contemporary Poetry Gift Exchange at Glendale Community College.

I had to start with Denise Duhamel's Kinky. It's a collection of Barbie poems that always makes a great gift. I once read several of these poems at a bookstore and saw people march right over to the poetry shelves while I was still at the podium to look for copies to buy. Of course they didn't find any.

Here are a few excerpts from some of my favorites:

Differently-Abled Barbies

"Barbie's hand melts into a finger-less fist
a nob, when someone leaves her on top of a stove"

Beatnik Barbie

"Barbie couldn't snap
her fingers, venetian blinds
that refused to spread"

Antichrist Barbie

"She could turn her head all the way around
like Linda Blair, in The Exorcist..."

and I finished with Buddhist Barbie

In the 5th century B.C.
an Indian philosopher
Gautama teaches "All is emptiness"
and "There is no self."
In the 20th century A.D.
Barbie agrees, but wonders how a man
with such a belly could pose,
smiling, and without a shirt.

In a turn of Instant Karma that John Lennon could appreciate, Duhamel happens to be coming to this year's big Desert Nights Rising Stars writers conference at ASU next month and I was given free registration, courtesy of Hayden's Ferry Review. I've never been to anything like that and I am excited to finally hear Duhamel in person.

The second book I gave away was Aimee Nezhukumatathil's Lucky Fish.
Here is one of the poems that caught my eye:

(a found poem, composed entirely of e-mails from various high school students)

If I were to ask you a question about your book
and sum it up into one word it would be, Why?
I think I like Walt Whitman better than you. I just don’t
get literature, but for a fast hour and a half read, your book

takes the cake. I liked how you organized the lines
in that one poem to represent a growing twisting Bonsai tree.
You are very young to be a poet. I also like how your poems take
up an entire page (it makes our reading assignment go faster).

In class we spend so much time dissecting your poems
and then deeply analyzing them. I think I like Walt Whitman
better than you, but don’t take offense—you are very good too!
You are young. You are young and pure and really just want

to have a good time. Thank you we have taken a debate
and you are a far better poet than Walt Whitman. And I loved
how your poems were easy to read and understand. Hello
my name is Alicia. We read your book and I just loved it.

We also read Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. There
was no†competition there. I liked your book a whole lot better.
It was an easy read.†But poetry is not my favorite type
of literature. Sometimes I am offered drinks and guys

try to talk to me but I too just brush it off and keep dancing.
Every once and a while there comes the creepy mean guys
that try to offer you things†and then they say something to you.
Are you going to get a rude reaction when you meet

that one guy in that one poem? I guess you never know.
Lastly, I was wondering if you ever wrote a poem that really
didn’t have a deeper meaning but everyone still tried
to give it one anyways? Walt Whitman is better than you.

Published MiPOesias Magazine 2007

I will post about the other books I chose for the giveaway, sooner or later.


  1. Buddhist Barbie! I love it.

    Congratulations on earning the Rising Star scholarship. Sounds like a great gathering.

  2. I've always heard good things about that conference in the past, from friends who were able to go, so I am definitely looking forward to it.

    P.S. - It looks like you can look through that entire Barbie book online. Try this link

    Denise Duhamel Kinky in google books