The Star-Spangled Banner, Denise Duhamel's sixth book of poems, is about falling in love, American-style, with someone who is not American.
In the title poem, a small American girl mishears the first line of The Star-Spangled Banner as José, can you see?, which leads her to imagine a foreign lover of an American woman dressed in a star-spangled gown. The misunderstandings caused by language recur throughout the book: contemplating what yes means in different cultures; watching Nickelodeon's Nick at Nite with a husband who grew up in the Philippines and never saw The Patty Duke Show; misreading another poet's title The Difference Between Pepsi and Coke as The Difference Between Pepsi and Pope and concluding that Pepsi is all for premarital sex. / The Pope won't stain your teeth. Misunderstandings also abound as characters mingle with others from different classes. In Cockroaches, a father-in-law refers to budget-minded American college students backpacking in Europe as cockroaches, not realizing his daughter-in-law was once, not so long ago, such a student/roach herself.
With welcome levity and refreshing irreverence, The Star-Spangled Banner addresses issues of ethnicity, class, and gender in America.
About the Author:
Denise Duhamel's previous books and chapbooks of poetry include Exquisite Politics (with Maureen Seaton), Kinky, Girl Soldier, and How the Sky Fell. Her work has been anthologized in such volumes as The Best American Poetry 1998, The Best American Poetry 1994, and The Best American Poetry 1993.