Univ. of Pittsburgh. (Pitt Poetry). Feb. 2017. 112p. ISBN 9780822964506. pap. $15.95. POETRY
In a spill of language and emotion often contained in the traditional form of the villanelle and pantoum, National Book Critics Circle finalist Duhamel (Blowout) explores women's place in the world as part of nature, history, and culture and forever at sword's edge with men. The first poem in the book's opening section, dedicated to Shulamith Firestone, takes a steely-eyed look at feminism as legacy and inevitability ("'having it both ways,'/ a phrase I hate/ as men always have it both ways"). Later, in a poem on evolution, the line "A woman's real ancestors, not divine but animal" sums up the spirit throughout as we see the animal in the "stellar explosion" of desire, the frank discussion of fornicating (or not), and one fabulous, juicy poem titled "Porn Poem (With Andrea Dworkin)."
VERDICT Duhamel's deceptively informational, almost deadpan voice might at first puzzle but soon becomes incantatory, even obsessive. Engaging for a wide range of readers.
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