Two and Two / Edition 1

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Denise Duhamel's much anticipated new collection begins with a revisionist tale—Noah is married to Joan of Arc—in a poem about America's often flawed sense of history. Throughout Two and Two, doubles abound: Noah's animals; Duhamel's parents as Jack and Jill in a near-fatal accident; an incestuous double sestina; a male/female pantoum; a dream and its interpretation; and translations of advertisements from English to Spanish. In two Möbius strip poems (shaped like the Twin Towers), Duhamel invites her readers to get out their scissors and tape and transform her poems into 3-D objects.

At the book's center is "Love Which Took Its Symmetry for Granted," a gathering of journal entries, personal e-mails, and news reports into a collage of witness about September 11. A section of "Mille et un sentiments," modeled on the lists of Hervé Le Tellier, Georges Perec, and George Brainard, breaks down emotions to their most basic levels, their 1,001 tiny recognitions. The book ends with "Carbó Frescos," written in the form of an art guidebook from the 24th century.

Innovative and unpretentious, Duhamel uses twice the language usually available for poetry. She culls from the literary and nonliterary, from the Bible and product warning labels, from Woody Allen films and Hong Kong action movies—to say difficult things with astonishing accuracy. Two and Two is second to none.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“People who never buy books of poetry will find a compelling reason to buy this one: at its center is a long poem constructed out of the e-mail detritus of 9/11, when citizens and survivors from all over the world poured their grief onto global listservs, as well as of news sound bites, bits of trauma-related classroom exercises, profiles of bin Laden and others, as well as elegies for the viction.””
Publishers Weekly

“Denise Duhamel’s wacky poems cavort, tumble, defy gravity, and most assumptions of the rational mind.  But the real feat  here is to be at once dazzling and somehow resolutely human— in the way the most fantastic, reeling dreams come to us in service of the heart’s unedited, plain truth.”
Foreword Magazine

". . . rare book of poems—even rarer in this age of irony and emotional deferment—that moves effortlessly between unstilted candor and the verbal equivalent of slapstick humor."
Barrow Street

Publishers Weekly
People who never buy books of poetry will find a compelling reason to buy this one: at its center is a long poem constructed out of the e-mail detritus of 9/11, when citizens and survivors from all over the world poured their grief onto global listservs, as well as of news sound bites, bits of trauma-related classroom exercises, profiles of bin Laden and others, as well as elegies for the victims. Along with Michael Gottlieb's "The Dust," the poem, titled "Love Which Took Its Symmetry for Granted" is one of the few versifications of the tragedy and its aftermath that is genuinely affecting, switching among its many voices and discourses cleanly (if not seamlessly), and giving a sense of the poet's own attempts to come to terms with what has happened. The rest of the book is perfectly good, moving among familiar modes of high-low juxtaposition, childhood remembrance, workday challenge and wry pop cultural exploration with ease. A funny, touching prose poem about Duhamel's relationship with the poet Nick Carb closes things out: "Duhamel has essentially erased all other women in Carb 's life but herself." A similar sense of depth dipped in whimsy pervades throughout; it's what saves Duhamel's elegiac bricolage from mawkishness. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Duhamel uses familiar language and pop-culture references in unfamiliar ways. Her poems are accessible without being complacent, challenging without being frustratingly inscrutable to those just beginning to delve into contemporary poetry. She is the perfect poet to introduce to YAs; Two and Two is full of riches and as good a place as any to start. Teens will get their feet wet in its smart, more playful poems-one composed of bad English subtitles from Hong Kong films. Another is an alliterative celebration of American slang, and yet another imagines what Noah's and Joan of Arc's life together might have been like, after revealing that 20 percent of Americans believe that they were married. As the book deepens, readers will see that an artful collage of bits and pieces from e-mails, journals, and news items can produce a poem of astonishing power. They will find that a poem in which each line begins with "I feel" is not necessarily a selfish, I-centric poem-that someone writing "I feel" over and over enables readers to feel more and examine what they feel, too. Duhamel's poetry, simply put, will make teens not only want to read poetry, but to write it as well.-Emily Lloyd, Stephen J. Betze Library, Georgetown, DE Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822958710
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2005
  • Series: Pitt Poetry Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 94
  • Sales rank: 948,193
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Denise Duhamel’s previous books include Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems and Mille et un sentiments, a limited edition book. A recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, she teaches creative writing at Florida International University in Miami.

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Table of Contents

Noah and Joan 1
Egg rolls 3
Crater face 6
The problem with Woody Allen 8
Incest taboo 10
Napping on the afternoon of my thirty-ninth birthday 16
Dream interpretations 17
Our Americano 19
Pituitary theft 23
Warning 27
Love which took its symmetry for granted 30
The accident 55
Mobius strip : forgetfulness 58
Embarazar 62
Lawless pantoum 63
From Mille et un sentiments 65
Mobius strip : love sex food death 78
Beneficiary 83
Carbo Frescos 86
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