I first found Duhamel’s work after having picked up the Best American Poetry 2009 anthology, in an effort to start reading poetry regularly again after a long, long lapse. (Okay, since college actually. Yikes, lol!)
My favorite piece was, and continued to be, the poem that drew me to the collection in the first place, “How it Will End”. It’s the story of a troubled couple watching another couple have a fight.
My second favorite was “Victor”, the sad story of a lonely divorcee, a made-up boyfriend, and her handyman whom she is drawn to, but doesn’t date. Written in second person! Which is apparently a secret love of mine, lol!
What I love about her work is these little portraits of human interaction, snapshots of the little exchanges that happen between people. I read this on a plane and all but kept shouting out, “Yes! People are just like this!!!” Or “Yes, yes! I’ve been through exactly this!”
I loved the interplay between the poems, how they continue a common thread like you were reading chapter after chapter of a novel. On the other hand, through this revisiting of common threads, some of the topics (the devolution of her marriage, for example) started to lose their luster by the end. But I enjoyed that aspect much more than it bothered me.
Her poetry is very accessible and reads a lot like prose or a long poetic essay.
“I am a lot like the narrator of this poem –
I am, in fact, completely her.”
This particular line struck me, as when I’m writing my own fiction, I often put little bits of myself into my characters. I wonder if it takes a poet/novelist (someone who writes both, that is) to realize that all fiction is is non-fiction disguised in story. I envy poets for their bravery, for putting this all out there when people will assume (because it’s often true) that these are all true stories. Maybe they aren’t, but if that’s the case here, they certainly ring very true.
The book is short. Very short. Chapbook sized, only ten poems, which were all wonderful. And though the chapbook was priced a bit high for ten poems (she’s with a publisher, so that’s not her fault), I do not regret having paid that much for a very thoughtful collection. I’m happy to say I have a new favorite poet to follow!
You can find the digital chapbook, How It Will End, at Amazon.