Poetry in Film

film poetry

A good friend recently sent me an article from Flavor Wire titled 10 Famous Poems that Appeared in Film.” The selection is actually surprising.

William Blake is prominent on the list. There is mention of Jim Jarmusch’s cult 1955 Western “Dead Man,” which is supposedly based on the visionary poems of William Blake. And, there is mention of the now-classic film “Blade Runner,” also inspired by the poetry of William Blake. Excerpts from the English poet’s book “America, a Prophecy” recur throughout the noir film.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan” is prominent in the heavyweight “Citizen Kane.” So its inclusion in the list is a must.

But, I was ignorant of the fact that Charles Bukowski had written a film, 1987’s “Barfly.” From its IMDB trailer and recap, the movie looks terrible. It might be worth watching just to pick up the fragments of Bukowski’s work that appear in the script.

My favorite item on the list, though, is Thomas Hood’s poem “Silence,” which appeared in “The Piano.” Although the poem fits the film beautifully, I enjoyed the reference more because it reminded me of how great the movie is, how much it deserves an entire, undistracted Sunday afternoon.

A big miss, though, is W.H. Auden’s “Funeral Blues” from “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” copied below.

 

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone.
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling in the sky the message He is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever, I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

 

Smoke Private & Cuss Private

writing, literature

I read “Tom Sawyer” for the first time in, of all places, Medellin, Colombia. The domestic departures terminal at the Bogotá airport actually has a great little bookstore with a neat selection of English books.  I found an illustrated copy of Mark Twain’s classic and could not resist. Glad I didn’t because this read was nearly as fun as my new golden go-to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

Plus, moms and dads, the book actually doubles as a terrific parenting guide.

IMG_4254

“A Notion of Marriage,” Published Anew

 A Notion of Marriage

 

Because I am a poet,

I read about things like the center of skin.

About warm bodies coming together in the dark,

and how it’s the meaning of life

when someone gets it right.

 

And I know I should write about things

like a moving chest and a naked back.

About the coming together of life in the dark,

about our common desire

and the verbs that it took.

 

And it should be universal,

but personal.

My moving chest, your naked back.

The notion of marriage,

of children, of daily love.

Shrinking rooms

beneath the surface of

different meaning words.

 

But I don’t see the dark jaw

in the night,

or the soft center of touch spring alive.

There is effort and a plan.

There is marriage,

a shrinking room,

daily love,

and a baby that eats time.

 

We do not say flesh when we mean sex.

We say it’s about right.

And, it would be nice.

We confirm how long it’s been

before we ask the other

to get up and make the bedroom

dark.

 

The very generous community writing project VerseWrights posted my poem “A Notion of Marriage” on its home page last week. A big thank you to Carl Sharpe, a former English teacher who now devotes his time to running this dynamic initiative.

This poem was originally published by “The Aviary Review.”

Brokeback Books

writing literature books

 

I delayed the inevitable as long as I could. But, when I unpacked my copy of Jean Genet’s “Lady of the Flowers” after a recent move, it came apart into five pieces. It was a shoddy used copy I picked up somewhere, probably on a New York sidewalk, but it will be missed.

Oddly enough, I found a few pages of “The Little Prince” tucked inside Genet’s dirty, homoerotic classic, which was written while the author was tucked inside a French prison.

If the photo above ever becomes a grad school essay, its title could read as follows — “Criminal Sex: A Jean Genet Reading of Pedophilia in The Little Prince.”

A Library for All

poetry writing libraries

A literary friend recently put me in touch with Library for All, and NGO that provides digital libraries to developing nations. It was founded by an Australian couple that moved to Haiti to help after the 2010 earthquake. They were shocked to discover that books were so scarce that school headmasters had to keep them under lock and key, so they set out to change this.

First, the couple contacted US publishers and media outlets and convinced them to donate content. Then, they launched a Kickstarter campaign that raised over 110,000 USD. Next, they sent tablets with entire libraries on them to a Haitian school set up to help former child slaves. The reaction was so positive that Library for All took off.

They now provide tablets to schools throughout Haiti and The Democratic Republic of Congo.

Although it’s a small way to help, I’ve donated my published poems to Library for All so my work now forms part of their growing catalog. If anyone out there has relevant content that they are interested in donating, please write me at thedrugstorenotebook@gmail.com, and I will be happy to put you in touch with this amazing organization.