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Consumed with the accumulation of lost time and unfulfilled longing, Desire Museum by Danielle Cadena Deulen is an intricate exploration of things left unfinished or unsatisfied.
Divided into four sections and shaped by female-identified embodiment, Desire Museum touches on lost love and friendship, climate crisis, lesbian relationships, and the imprisonment of children at the U.S.-Mexico border. These poems trace the pleasures and pitfalls of sex, the anxieties of motherhood, and the ramifications of interpersonal, sociopolitical, and environmental trauma in women’s lives.
In these pages, Deulen holds up a candle to desire itself, questioning what it means to recognize and embrace one's desires, or what it might mean to let them go. In conversation with Hopkins, Keats, Crane, and Lorca, Deulen seamlessly weaves memories into dreamscapes and blurs the human and natural worlds. With love, wonder, grief, and awe, Desire Museum shows us that to live alongside desire is to refuse to be contained: “I refuse meaning [ ] the first sunrise reiterates the last.”
Excerpt from "Self-Doubt with Trapeze"
This is where I belong—I see that now—a web-
bound fly twisting in the air, nothing but the bar
beneath my chin and the crowd’s breath held by
the thought of a slip, one small hitch in routine
that might tumble me down to death. There’s no
net. If I reach too far, too short, if I don’t stretch
my toe just so, or my glitter tights snag on a shiny
metal loop, if the platform is slick, or I’m not as
quick, or I dream of the solid earth beneath my
soles—behold my gold leotard, my face painted
red enough to rival the clowns. I’m their airborne
counterpart, suspended in smoke, choking on
the scent of burnt sugar and sweat. From this
swooning height a vision rises in the tent: a tree
I knew from my childhood yard, that pine I once
climbed to a screaming point, how it spiraled up
above the houses, the telephone lines, the blunt
minds of neighbors, and how brilliant I felt, sky-
hung, a star—just before the sound of the snap.
Praise for Desire Museum
“Desire Museum is all that is delicious about poetry—small windows through which the fresh breath of self-knowledge blows through, the mouthfeel of deft language, the eros of travel. But this collection is also astonishing in how it builds mythologies around dissolution, ardor, and allusion. I have loved wandering in the halls of this book’s illuminating galleries and Deulen’s deft curation.”
— Carmen Giménez, author of Be Recorder
“Drawing on sources from classical mythology to particle physics, these poems render lost loves and lost letters, abandoned places and selves. Beasts abound—a fox, a tiger, an octopus, a cow. There are sleepless nights and regretful kisses, the voices of Keats and Hopkins, Lorca, and Crane. All along, Deulen confronts ardor’s ghosts, interrogating the myriad ways hunger and heartbreak get transmuted into art and memory. Sometimes funny, always smart, endlessly inventive, Desire Museum is a restless and intoxicating book!”
— Bruce Snider, author of Fruit
“Danielle Cadena Deulen’s luminous collection Desire Museum assembles and remixes the past, constructing not pristine displays under glass to be admired at a distance, but dynamic exhibits that shimmer beneath our hands. How many selves can one life contain? What remains after great loss? At once dreamlike and insistently clear, these poems call across time and space, inviting former lovers, canonical poets, and the ghosts of former selves to commingle in an ever-shifting present. This is a book to read and remember.”
— Chelsea Rathburn, Georgia Poet Laureate, author of Still Life with Mother and Knife
Publication Date: 10/10/2023
© BOA Editions, Ltd. 2023