Tuesday, April 15, 2008

BillyBlog's Favorite Poems, #16 ("Buddhist Barbie" by Denise Duhamel)

Denise Duhamel’s poem “Buddhist Barbie” is just a fingernail sliver of one of my favorite poems. It represents pretty much all of her poetry in the sense that I enjoy it. I like most everything I’ve read by Denise, and I chose this one because it was short (after Kenneth Koch and Garret Hongo, you deserve a shorter one). Denise’s book Kinky was her "breakout" work, a plethora of hilarious “Barbie” poems. Just the concept touched a nostalgic nerve in my body, because I grew attached one Labor Day weekend to a McDonald’s Happy Meal Barbie, dubbed “Crazy Horse Barbie,” because I obtained her on the Vegas strip. But I digress. So much for the high road.

“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.

More awesome Denise Duhamel poems here and the complete volume of The Woman With Two Vaginas: Poetry based on Eskimo Mythology here and the very fun “Sex with a Famous Poet”.

Full disclosure: I met Denise at the Dodge Poetry Festival in 1998 and we have corresponded sporadically over the years, although it’s been a while since I’ve talked to her. I sent her an e-mail shortly after the 9/11 attacks and she used, with my permission, a snippet from my e-mail, among the bits from many others, in her long poem "Love Which Took Its Symmetry for Granted" from her wonderful book Two and Two.

I am a fan of her work through and through and she sits on the ridge of the top 15 and the bottom 15 of my thirty favorite. Here’s a teaser, the top 15 are truly beloved by me. I hope you’ll be back to see how the list plays out….

Previous Favorite Poems for National Poetry Month:

#17 - "One Train May Hide Another" by Kenneth Koch
#18 - "Poem (Lana Turner Has Collapsed!) by Frank O'Hara (with Audio)
#19 - "Crumbs" by Hal Sirowitz (Audio Added)
#20 - "This Is Just to Say" by William Carlos Williams
#21 - "They Feed They Lion" by Philip Levine
#22 - "Looking at Kilauea" by Garret Hongo
#23 - "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" by Randall Jarrell (Audio Added)
#24 - A Handful of Richard Brautigan
#25 - "A Buddha in the Woodpile" by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
#26 - "Separation" by W.S. Merwin
#27 - "The Flea" by John Donne
#28 - Poem Twenty from Pablo Neruda's Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair
#29 - "Magpie's Song" by Gary Snyder
#30 - "Eunoia" by Christian Bok

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