on July 4, 2015
<b>Actual rating: 4.67 of 5 thorns</b>
Assertive. Experimental. Creative. Political. Self-conscious. Accessible. Poems of all lengths and forms. The subtle way Duhamel moves through the images and commentary is effective and impactful; the reader reaches the end of the poem and realizes the insight in a glorious instant. All poems are tied together with the theme of money, in some way or another, and some poems are odd and really make the reader think. This collection encourages rereading and more in-depth study. With so many subtle twists and turns off emotion and plot, Duhamel expertly critiques contemporary culture. Contained in these pages is an excellent lesson in poetry, society, and the humanness of our experience, a lesson to be returned to and learned from, many times over.
on February 24, 2009
DuHamel has done it again. This post-modern, feminist, outrageous-and-yet-understated, humorous, up-front portrait of our daily and life-long relationship to the lure of lucre will both make you laugh and fill you with despair for our bankrupt culture! As usual, DuHamel makes herself the guinea pig for her explorations, not pointing the finger at others (tisk, tisk), but using stories from her own experience to claim complete participation in the trends and troubles she's naming. Some entries are prose poems in the shape of monopoly money. Some have dollar amounts for titles. Some reveal how trivial money is, and others expose how even so it leads to the very blood and bone of things. And all of these poems will make you stop and wonder about this time and place. How is she always able to stay ahead of the curve so that her books hit the stands right when an issue is (bang!) on our minds? She's tuned in, and has the honesty about, semi-secret affection for, and "chops" to reveal to us this American life.
on February 24, 2009
"Money makes the world go 'round," goes the song from "Cabaret," and it's this mundane fact that is the unlikely but prime motivator for the poems in "Ka-Ching!," Denise Duhamel's amazing and ever-so-timely book about the staggering effects of money on individuals, cultures, memories, desires, indeed the whole realm of the human.
To say that this book is clever, funny, scathing, heart-wrenching, bold, carefully crafted, musical, and moving is only to scratch the surface of what is to be found here. To read these poems is to experience the marvelous blending of timeless subjects with total immersion in the Now, to see ranging curiosity, thrilling innovation, and classic forms. I think Duhamel's "eBay Sonnets" alone are enough to make this book worthy of Pulitzer Prize consideration.
This is contemporary poetry at its very finest.
on January 30, 2009
It's been over 15 years since Denise Duhamel made her debut with the book, "Smile!" and her poetry has not skipped a beat since. An ardent and curious poet, she has slyly tackled every conceivable style and form, every subject matter and perspective, and has solidly earned her her community's respect.
With her latest book, "Ka-Ching!," Duhamel continues this poetic play. Using a variety of styles -- free verse, sestinas, sonnets, pantoums, villanelles, and more -- Duhamel writes about a diverse number of subjects: money, love, art, fame, family, country, missed opportunities, and tragedies big and small.
But what makes this range of subjects and styles so impressive is no matter the topic, no matter the form, Duhamel's spirit and clear honest voice shines. The resulting pieces are warm, human and utterly unpretentious. I'm embarrassed to admit that I began wishing for subway delays and slow elevators, just so I didn't have to stop reading!
I highly recommend this charming and accomplished book. It definitely holds its own against Duhamel's already impressive oeuvre, and would serve as a great introduction to anyone interested in how form poetry is tackled with humor and style by modern poets.
on August 20, 2009
This is the second work by this writer I have purchased and plan to add more. For those who are not familiar with Denise Duhamel and have not taken the opportunity to enjoy her sometimes subtle, sometimes caustic, often irrepressibly irreverent response to life, love, relationships, and in this case, the lure of all that glitters and shines and jingles, I offer encouragement to do so. Duhamel, an associate professor of English at Florida International University, is truly a poet's poet; a writer equally dedicated to the integrity of her work, and fervently loyal to the art of poetic form. Her unique perspective on poetry as both a personal and historical art form is reflected in examples like "I Dreamed I Wrote This Sestina Wearing My Maidenform Bra," a paean to perhaps the most acknowledged of the physical virtues of womanhood, examined through the heroines of great fairy tales--Snow White, Cinderella, et. al. Or "Delta Flight 659," which Duhamel terms a "mock sestina," a tongue-in-cheek fan letter to Sean Penn; hilariously punctuated with Duhamel's wry observations on the perils of the actor as activist, and each line ending with a slant on the "pen" (or if you wish, "Penn") sound. This collection had me laughing out loud and nodding in agreement with Duhamel's take on the "bling bling" state of the union. I had the pleasure of participating in a workshop with Denise Duhamel not long ago and her creative versatility is matched by her amazing skill as a teacher as well. Ka-Ching! is a wonderfully funny, yet poignant, and still often serious collection that should sit next to your favorite reading chair or on the night stand; to be read and re-read and enjoyed more each time.
on March 26, 2009
Because the cover is bright and Ka-Ching has an exclamation point and the pig is even smiling, I assumed that this would, at the very least, be a fun collection to read and that I would see poems do things that I hadn't imagined poems could do because that's what Denise Duhamel does. This was much more than a fun read. This is a collection of poems that makes you trust it in its opening sections. You can trust that, just like you, Duhamel knows what it is to have a dream, to fear that dream, and to live the affirmation of a dream. In later sections of the collection, the necessity of that trust becomes clear when Duhamel makes you face a truth you fear--that sometimes horrible things happen to people we love and sometimes those people are your parents--but these poems are your trusted friends that affirm that you don't have to go it alone. I had no idea that this book would end up getting my highest form of involuntary praise: it made me cry. I still can't figure out how reading these poems actually made ME feel exposed. She's good!