Interview with a Comic Strip Diva

by Denise Duhamel & Maureen Seaton


We sat down with Olive Oyl at her home in Chester, Illinois. We were struck by the graceful reserve with which she served us herbal tea, her quiet yet sparkling generosity.

MS: Ms. Oyl, you've been called the skinniest thing in boots. Do you find this interferes with your self-esteem?

OO: Did you ask General MacArthur that? Nancy Sinatra? Betty Boop?

DD: Are you concerned at all about America's obsession with the private lives of celebrities?

OO: I've never had sex with Clark Kent. But that doesn't mean I won't if I get the chance.

DD: Are you saying you've considered a career outside of showbiz?

OO: I am not monogamous. There are millions of monogamous people, but I am not one of them.

MS: In that case, would you like to respond to the Inquirer? I'm thinking especially of the front page spread with the picture of you and Bluto caught in an indiscretion.

OO: It's not as if Frank O'Hara were monogamous, right?

DD: Speaking of the New York School of Poets, do you align yourself more with them or the Beats?

OO: You can't imagine how boring it gets in all these little boxes, each strip's linear predictability.

MS: I'd heard you were a surrealist at heart.

OO: There are sardines and there are lemon trees--it depends what you're in the mood for.

DD: Are you as uncomfortable doing interviews as your publicist says?

OO: I believe in performance and page. My goal is to bust through genre restrictions-- strips, 'toons, feature films.

MS: Oh, are you double-jointed?

OO: Why can't I be it all? Pen and ink legs with human hair or Meret Oppenheim's tea cup covered in fur, the way art has sex with life and vice versa.




Olive Oyl Cento

by Denise Duhamel & Maureen Seaton


her toes are not
the lobes of autobiography
(An ingrown toenail?)
that is, a history
(An ingrown toenail?)
like Ginger Rogers in Swingtime
this: the flooding into the flooding
and shriek! shriek!
God must have a big eye to see everything
that is, a history
A shipwreck in Haven
a shape made of links, elongated
Made of untinted butter frosting: Happy Name Day, Blue Jay, staggering
Feeling like a girl


(lines in this found poem were borrowed from Robert Duncan, Kathleen Fraser, Lyn Hejinian, Denise Levertov, Hilda Morley, Frank O'Hara, Ed Sanders, James Schuyler, Jack Spicer, Keith Waldrop, Philip Whalen, and John Wieners)