Welcome to Limp Wrist's Barbie issue
co-edited by Denise Duhamel & Dustin Brookshire.
Anyone that knows me knows I’m the super fan of two Ds—Dolly and Denise. I discovered and fell in love with poetry through the work of Anne Sexton, but it is the poetry of Denise Duhamel that showed me I could write the type of poems that I wanted to write. While a few high school teachers encouraged me to write poems, they taught that pop culture references don’t have a place in poetry. Denise, a queen of pop culture references, taught me otherwise. The narrative poems studied in school left me uninterested, but Denise’s narrative poems made me eager to move from line to line and inspired me to write my own. High school teachers taught us there wasn't anymore room for confessional poets and humor in poetry wasn't encouraged; however, Denise's poems showed me otherwise. I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank my former college professor turned mentor and dear friend Beth Gylys for suggesting that I read Denise’s Kinky as well as helping me strengthen my poetic voice and exorcising numerous lessons learned during high school.
Kinky is the book I recommend that shows poetry can be about anything. It’s the book I pull from when people tell me that they don't like poetry. It’s the book that (actually!) taught me something about the “Dolly rumor mill”—thanks “Barbie in Therapy, Part II” for enlightening me about the rumor that Dolly is a lesbian. It’s a book that I keep a backup copy of in case my original is damaged beyond use. Kinky is a book that I turn to again and again, and it never ceases to entertain and inspire me.
In 2007, when Dorianne Laux gave a lecture at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival on the importance of memorizing poems, it was “Antichrist Barbie” from Kinky that I memorized. It was also at the 2007 Palm Beach Poetry Festival that I first met Denise. She was at the evening gala, and I pointed her out to a workshop peer who responded with, “You’ve brought her up in workshop. You have to meet her.” In my true dramatic nature, I responded, “One cannot just approach Denise Duhamel.” Well, one can just approach Denise, as my workshop peer marched up to her, dragging me along, to say: “Are you Denise Duhamel?” After Denise confirmed, my friend said, “You have to meet my friend. He raved about you in workshop.” Denise was generous with her time to talk poetry, Kinky, and more. She even waited for me to run to my car to get my copy of Kinky to get her autograph. (I always take my favorite books to poetry conferences.) I still have that inscribed copy that includes a note from Denise: “Kinky is 10 this year!”
Kinky turns 25 today, and this milestone birthday has inspired this special issue of Limp Wrist. When I realized that the publication date of Kinky and Barbie’s birthday are only separated by eight days, I knew the universe was signaling that this special issue had to be created. I’ll be forever appreciative that Denise immediately agreed when I asked if she would co-edit this issue.
It was an absolute treat to read all the submissions and witness Barbie as a motley range of metaphors, analogies, and messages. Curating this issue was hard, and a rejection often had no bearing on the quality of the work. Thank you to everyone who trusted us to read their poems. Again, thank you to Denise for her time. And most of all, thank you for reading this issue that goes live in two parts.
Yours in poetry,
Limp Wrist Founder & Editor
P.S. Three reminders: 1) Don’t forget that the Limp Wrist 2022 Glitter Bomb Award is open through 3/24/22. Denise serves as the final contest judge! 2) The Florida State Poetry Association (FSPA) has a Barbie-themed contest in honor of Kinky. Contest opens on 5/1/22. You don’t have to be a FSPA member to enter. Click here for the details. 3) Submissions are open through 6/30/22 for the forthcoming Madville Publishing Dolly Parton poetry anthology; click here for the details.