National Poetry Month – Denice Frohman

I’m honestly not sure when I first became of aware of Denice Frohman and her poetry. It might have been when her Dear Straight People poem first went viral, but I can’t say for certain. All I know is that Frohman’s poetry pulled me in – and it’s been such a joy watching her work evolve over these many years – from Accents to Everybody’s Famous in LA to A Queer Girl’s Ode to the Piraguero to First Kiss – I adore them all.

Fast forward to 2019, and I’ve got plans to go to AWP (The Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference that moves cities each year) in Portland. (Super thankful for my friend who lives nearby that let me crash on their couch.) I’d been hoping for some time to see Frohman perform her work live (live is always best, in my opinion), so you can imagine my excitement when she posted on social media leading up to the conference that not only was she going to be part of a panel, she would be performing at an off-site event, as well.

The off-site event came first – Latinx & Loud (March 27, 2019), featuring Eduardo C. Corral, Denice Frohman, José Olivarez, Julian Randall, Raquel Salas Rivera, Natalie Scenters-Zapico, Analicia Sotelo, and Vanessa Angélica Villarreal, and located at the Portland Mercado where I feasted on empanadas and maracuya juice. I can tell you that Frohman’s work is even more stunning in person.

I also had the chance to hear José Olivarez (and bought his book Citizen Illegal), who was later slated to be our poet Keynote at UntitledTown…but then COVID…

The second time I was able to see Frohman was later that weekend when she appeared on the panel Poets vs. Poets: Dismantling the Bias Against Performance Poetry (March 29, 2019, which also featured Jasminne Mendez, Paul Tran, Safia Elhillo, and Bill Moran). The group spent the first portion of the panel discussing the false binary of “page versus stage” and about the ways performance spaces can create classrooms and communities. The talk was fascinating for me (as a poet who sits firmly on the page, but who also teaches poetry), but I loved the performances that were coaxed out of the poets even more.

I highly recommend going down the rabbit hole of Denice Frohman’s YouTube. For links to read their work, you can visit their website. You can follow them on Instagram and Twitter.

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