Second Story


In these poems, Duhamel looks back at her life and its pivotal moments with aplomb and humor. . . . This book is not exactly a swan song, but in many places it feels that way. What keeps it from being heavy are Duhamel’s word play, breezy free association, and chatty poetic style.
Library Journal

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When her Florida apartment is damaged by the ferocity of Hurricane Irma, Duhamel turns to Dante andterza rima, reconstructing the form into the long poem “Terza Irma.” Throughout the book she investigates our near-catastrophic ecological and political moment, hyperaware of her own complicity, resistance, and agency. She writes odes to her favorite uncle—who was “green” before it was a hashtag—and Mother Nature via a retro margarine commercial. She writes letters to her failing memory as well as to America’s amnesia. With fear of the water below and a burglar who enters through her second story window, she bravely faces the story under the story, the second story we often neglect to tell.

Excerpt from “Terza Irma”

I hoist my suitcase up the stairs, brace
myself as I open the door, slip
on water in the hall, and come face

to face with my books, the white shelves drip-
ping. I pull down Dante—the pages
heavy, wavy as potato chips—

then pat down the walls, trying to gauge
where the leak’s come from—the apartment
above? My ceiling’s dappled with beige

clouds I’m afraid will burst, a descent
of more indoor rain. I make my way
to the condo office, to lament

the havoc, ask for some help. My neigh-
bors are in varied states of panic
and shock, agitated castaways.

110 Pages, 6 x 9 in.

March, 2021

isbn : 9780822966531

about the author

Denise Duhamel

Denise Duhamel is a distinguished university professor in the MFA program at Florida International University in Miami. Her previous books include Scald, Blowout, Ka-Ching!, Two and Two, Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems, The Star-Spangled Banner, and Kinky. She is a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Denise Duhamel