Denice Frohman’s words demand audience attention

Lesbian Jewish poet Denice Frohman, doesn’t intend to go unanswered. She demands our attention. More than that, she demands a response.


When Denice Frohman took off her jacket in the middle of her spoken-word performance on Thursday night, she assured the audience that it was simply because the room was hot – not because she was trying to look cool. She doesn’t like when performers do that, she said, so she didn’t want us to get the wrong impression. After all, as she said, “We’re just getting to know each other.”

And perhaps that’s one way to characterize what happens in a Denice Frohman performance – you get to know her. In the poems she performed in Dodd living room last week, she shared stories, ideas and emotions and spoke about her family and her friends, her race, gender and sexuality.

Frohman, you see, does not hold back. She comes ready. She comes, in a way, armed. As the first poem she performed Thursday, titled “Weapons,” begins, “At entrance of West Philadelphia high school, officer with guns perched on each waist asks me if I have any weapons. I hold up my book.” She stretches out her arms, then, so that we can almost see that invisible book, with dusty cover and yellowed pages, held there in her hands. She half-smiles as she says, “He doesn’t find that funny.”
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