Every Atom | No. 123

Denise Duhamel

Introduction to Every Atom by project curator Brian Clements

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Whitman asks us whether we have truly considered vast swaths of earth, our (false?) pride at understanding what cannot really be understood—the deep mysteries of poems; the deep mysteries of grass, mud, crops, flowers, and trees; possibly even the mysteries of learning how to read. We remember perhaps sounding out words, the delight of reading our first sentence in a picture book, but what a beautiful moment it was when we also began the process the horizontal reading, of understanding metaphor and word associations. This passage has always seemed like a meta-question, Whitman asking, “Are you getting the meaning/mystery of MY poem?”

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Denise Duhamel’s poetry titles include Scald; Blowout, Ka-Ching; Two and Two; Mille et un sentiments; Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems; The Star-Spangled Banner; and Kinky. She teaches in the MFA program at Florida International University in Miami.


Cover art Mike Tyer