Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

WOM-PO and Walt Whitman
May 3, 2008

In a scene dubbed “a bit too precious” by one reviewer, an excerpt from Walt Whitman’s poem, “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking” makes an appearance in the excellent film, L.I.E., above.

And separately, I have been graciously granted, by Annie Finch, the Women’s Poetry Listserv moderator title that she has worn many years now:

The WOM-PO (Discussion of Women’s Poetry) List was started in December 1997 by Annie Finch with an invitation to a small group of poets, critics, and lovers of women’s poetry. These people in turn invited other people to join, and the list has grown gradually by spreading through these networks. In April 2008, Amy King succeeded Annie as List Moderator for WOM-PO. Discussion on the list covers women poets of all periods, aesthetics, and ethnicities. It has been characterized by its high caliber, relatively low volume, and openness to a diversity of aesthetic perspectives.

Thanks, Annie! And friendly interlopers, please feel free to join us!

~~~

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Quickie
March 29, 2008

kirk-douglas-and-john-travolta-kiss.jpg

Yes, that’s John Travolta and Kirk Douglas lip wrestling, but this post is about much more than curing the daily — Jim K wrote a quick review of my recent Dusie chap, Kiss Me With the Mouth of Your Country (send your address to amyhappens @ gmail dot com for a copy). And thank you, Jim!

For more sexiness, click here now!

~~

4 Responses to “Quickie”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    December 11th, 2007 at 6:08 pm eHeh…I dunno; I saw Travolta’s mouth drool a lot
    in “Battlefield Earth”.
  2. Amy King Says:
    December 19th, 2007 at 9:00 pm eHeh heh!
  3. Sara Says:
    January 2nd, 2008 at 9:29 pm eHi Amy, did I tell you yet that your new chapbook’s title is I think about the best I’ve ever heard? ‘Cannot wait to read it.

    It appears that John Travolta’s taste in men is even worse than his taste in scripts post-Pulp Fiction — this post reminded me of something I saw on 60 Minutes a few years ago: Apparently, Kirk Douglas had been on the show, and a few weeks later I was watching another episode in which they reviewed some of their mail. A few women wrote a letter together, saying, “If Kirk Douglas thinks women should be more like dogs, we think he should be more like a tree.”

  4. Amy King Says:
    January 4th, 2008 at 10:33 pm eI’m so glad you’re into the new chap, Sara! And yes, I think you summed Travolta and Douglas up… don’t get me started on his son, Charlie Sheen. Ugh.

    Happy happy to you and yours, Ms. S!

Épisodes
March 29, 2008

jean-luc-godard.gif

It’s just me who said just cinema … “Just cinema.” … not like showing a photo of Marilyn Monroe when you’re talking about her, more like showing a photo of something else to introduce another idea … Not long after the Liberation there was a brief vogue for what were called “poetic films,” there would be poetry or text and then there was simply illustration. You take a poem or a text and you simply put photos or images on it, then you see either that what you’ve done is banal, that it’s worthless, or that the image you add enters into the text and eventually the text, when the time comes, springs from the images, so there’s no longer this simple relationship of illustration, and that makes it possible to exercise your capacity to think and reflect and imagine, to create. That simple form, whether with an interviewer or an illustrated poem, enables you to discover at a stroke things you’ve never thought of before.

–Jean-Luc Godard, “Constellation and Classification”

~~

… there was already this way of working with a photo and a text that didn’t exist separately … Benjamin says that in the beginning is understanding, in other words hearing as much as seeing, and to say one understands is to say two things, yes I hear what you say and yes I apprehend what you say. In my opinion these are two different things that go together and are indissociable. So you can say crudely that there is image and text. In my view, they were on a socially equal footing from the start; one may come first at a given moment and the other second, one can be stronger than the other for a moment, but without any inequality at the start or finish … It was here, if you like, that the whole thing was badly misunderstood, and misunderstood by the distributor Gaumont, which brought Historie(s) out like this … I wanted to do it in the usual way: television showing, books after that, perhaps high-quality videocassettes later. They did the opposite: books first, then cassettes — of appalling quality — with television still to come who knows when. I anted to put on a small exhibition or something of that sort in a gallery, assemble something that would show the different modes of entering and leaving what one can call History. Because for me the book is what will remain afterwards, books survive longer. Apart from that it has a small audience, a small print run of a book isn’t felt to be shaming, but in cinema it is and actually it’s very rare. There are secondhand bookshops but there’s no secondhand cinema … in the book, you perceive much more clearly the equivalence or fraternity or equality between the photo and the text, which are on strictly equal footing, things that completely disorient historians but don’t disorient film people. But they don’t want that, people who talk about films; they want illustration and their separate text, in which they can exercise a certain learning and a certain power. They do texts, and that’s the snag. Rather than taking three images simply and arranging them differently, going too far and remaking cinema. They could be doing that, but they aren’t, they want to do text … The book has more of that than the film proper, the book shows this relation between image and text. They may say the book hasn’t got everything the film has, it hasn’t got all the sound, it hasn’t got all the tricks … no matter, more of it comes through, while with the film audience, except for sincere people, it gets lost.

–Jean-Luc Godard, “Historie(s) du cinéma: Films and Books”

~~

There’s no such thing as reason. Thinking, creating, is an act of resistance; that’s what Deleuze was saying in his fashion. It was to get through on the level of understanding, to be understood in the raw sense and the intuitive one.

–Jean-Luc Godard, “Towards the Stars”

~~

All excerpts taken from CINEMA by Jean-Luc Godard & Youssef Ishaghpour.

~~

2 Responses to “Épisodes”

  1. Ana Says:
    August 27th, 2007 at 7:59 pm eI’ve JLG to thank for a poem — in ‘Notre musique’ (2004) he has the narrator read a poem by the Cuban poet José Lezama Lima — I misheard the quote and used it (with misread/new meaning) as the title and starting point of this poem:

    http://www.octopusmagazine.com/issue08/ana_bozicevic_bowling.htm#light

    The (correct) original line is: light is the first visible animal of the invisible

    Godard really is a poet and wonderful to steal from.

  2. Sam Rasnake Says:
    August 27th, 2007 at 9:25 pm eThanks for the Godard, Amy. His work is so essential.

I Love the Way a Poem Becomes …
March 27, 2008

poem-political.jpg

 How Is It Possible To Disagree Politically?

In the minds of others. Of course, there’s also the risk that it will become something completely unintended — the poet may also refer to this sending out as an act of faith. This morning I’m so pleased to read the outlined-becoming of one of my poems by political theorist, Ashok Karra — the act of faith returned with something new and unexpected. I wonder if this is like watching one’s child become someone else in the world?

An excerpt from Karra’s meditation:

Now “perpetrates” is a curious word: we talk of perpetrating crime, and a “lack of frugality” and “indiscrimination” seem to hint at criminal intent. But at the same time, the word itself means “to bring into being” or “to accomplish,” depending on how one wants to read the Latin word “pater” into the etymology. How is crime linked with creation?

Skipping ahead in the poem, we have a hint of how this is possible: our narrator seems to complain about her/his hand being “unsteady” and therefore “abusive” at times. The act of creating, even creating one’s own resolve, means abusing something or someone. We will return to these lines later, because there is a deep point about the conduct of politics I want to make. First I want to be clear about how it is we make decisions.

[con’t here]

~~

Thank you, Ashok!

~~

In other political news, I saw the Michael Moore film, “Sick-O”, recently. In spite of Moore’s transparent sentimental tactics, the film has a lot of merit. It’s intended to appeal to and inform the “general population” about the hypocrisies of the richest country in the world running our health care system as a for-profit industry. It’d be easy to knock this documentary, and I’m sure many will, for Moore’s egotism and savior-complex, but my feeling is, so what? At least he’s offering some indicative/incriminating view of the horrors the U.S. health care industry perpetrates each day in an entertainment format, one that more of the general population will likely be exposed to than any expose the news will ever do.

Hopefully, the film will inspire the average person to make new demands and study their local politicians’ promises a bit more closely. And apparently, Moore is on the attack this time as CNN has already misrepresented some of the facts from the film in an effort to distract from the film’s main thrust, and that is, we’re all at the mercy of a health care system that profits from denying treatments where ever it can. Bully for Moore and his ego, I say. I hope it’s large enough to take the hits and keep on plugging away at what is, ultimately, an altruistic endeavor on Moore’s party that could benefit us all. Get out there and see it!

~~

2 Responses to “I Love the Way a Poem Becomes …”

  1. Jim K. Says:
    July 17th, 2007 at 2:30 am eOr could it be tunneled many ways, all somewhat true?
    Certainly Ashok got some great evocation from it. Cool digging.
    I like to think different modalities in humans are still resonant…
    A poems can be any substance, but distilled. I love a catalyst.
  2. Amy King Says:
    July 17th, 2007 at 9:36 pm eIn full agreements with you, Jim!

Bouts-Rimés
March 26, 2008

waiting-for-the-moon.gif

If you are my student, then you now know the weekend assignment will be to write a poem in the Bouts-Rimés form. You will also know that this idea struck me when I was flipping through the aforementioned Court Green donated issues. If you are not my student, you may want to explore the form anyway. Take a peek at the three that made my cut after a cursory read, please. And pay attention to the assigned rhymes, dear scribes; they’ll be yours!

~~~

“April Parade” hit the button because Camlot smartly mentions a film I love. In fact, I own it. It’s old and it’s called “Waiting for the Moon” and is a fictional glimpse into the lives of Stein and Toklas, tastefully and artfully done. Clever too. I love it. Plus, I like this poem, especially the breaks. And the references; yes, those too.

APRIL PARADE

Before I saw the film, Henry & June
(starring Uma Thurman as hot mistress
of Anaïs Nin), Waiting for the Moon
had been the lit-bio-pic I obsess-
ed most about. The ear-whispering, snake-
like sighs of Paris-exiled, bookish, smoot
h-skinned lesbians, well, that took the cake
as far as my understanding of beaut-
y went. But Uma, she was like Garbo
on steroids, or some über-King Kong play-
thing. But real, too: a neighborhood, Hobo-
ken Parade Queen walking home the next day,
still in her gemmed tiara and rhinestone
bustier, but smelling of Fireman’s cologne.

–Jason Camlot

~~~~

I use the collaboratively-written play and HBO film, “The Laramie Project,” regularly in a basic literature class. Therefore, this next poem stood out well and poignantly.

FOR MATTHEW SHEPARD

Here they are again, the bright bugs of June
flittering the evening away, sun stressed
struts holding up the barbed wire fence, the moon
wandering dangerously, half dark, obsessed,
an abscess spilled into the deep holes snakes
have dug into the spiked hills. What is moot?
The question of love? Figurines on cake
don’t care about gender, stuck on a butte
of icing, Gable y Gable, Garbo
y Garbo, any part an actor can play.
O Shakespeare didn’t care if a hobo
wore a dress, a crown, as long as the day
was long, lovely. Each word a cut rhinestone.
Each touch, kiss, a dab of perfume, cologne.

– Dorianne Laux

~~~~

Last, but not least, the next poem caught my eye because we analyze and dissect the tropes of Little Women in my Intro to Children’s Literature class. I love the main text for that course, incidentally. For awhile, I was using a traditional one that grew stale quickly. Then I came across this one by Perry Nodelman and Mavis Reimer. It approaches texts through a lit theory lens, boiled down but not dumbed down, that my about-to-graduate students are able to process with just a little help from me. Anyway, I read through this poem and enjoyed the twists. For your eyes only:

CABARET XXVI

Jo in Little Women was not really June
Allyson. She was an actress with the stress
in pretending to be someone else, like the moon
in ovulation that never came out, the egg in obsess
that was your archetypal blank, that nearly killed her. I was a snake
to write my name in the sand near the water, first letter, moot
pont between time and eternity, she grimaced. The yellow cake
uranium was a free forgery, the horse I rode on a beaut.

I want to be alone, I said, like Garbo
but a dull boy’s awfully hard to play
and there you were as certain as a hat upon a hobo
that sublimity’s just one part of the day.
Don’t be sad, then, because we lost the rhinestone-
in-the-teacup; it was Berlin that kicked our legs up, not Cologne.

–Lisa Fishman & Richard Meier

~~~~~~

One Response to “Bouts-Rimés”

  1. Tim Caldwell Says:
    March 21st, 2007 at 11:29 pm eI loved all three, and I adore Gertrude Stein. Too many reason why, but they’re all good ones.

“…wealth shields from immediate judgment, takes you out of the subway crowd to enclose you in a chromium-plated automobile, isolates you in huge protected lawns, Pullmans, first-class cabins. Wealth, cher ami, is not quite acquittal, but reprieve, and that’s always worth taking.”
March 25, 2008

kieslowskis-red.jpg

Many moons ago, I read Albert Camus’ novel, THE FALL. A few moons later, I watched Kryzsztof Kieslowski’s film, “Red“, which was from his “Three Colors” triology. I immediately thought (& surely I’m not alone) that Kieslowski modeled one of his main characters on Camus’ judge:

“But equally real to me was the world of books, the world of all sorts of adventures. It’s not true that it was only a world of Camus and Dostoevsky. They were part of it, but it was also the world of cowboys and Indians, Tom Sawyer and all those heroes. It was bad literature as well as good, and I read both with equal interest.” (Kieslowski 1993, 5)

Randomly, I located a used copy of “Red” recently and will spend the day re-visiting it, after many years. It’s one of my favorite films, though I haven’t seen it in such a terribly long time. Similarly, I haven’t taken a peek at the pages of THE FALL for at least a decade. I’m getting old?

I ask you, fair people, what better way to spend this simple cold Brooklyn day than delving into the thick, rich complexities of two minds that took on the big guns of human behavior and turned them into stories?

“Red is very complex in its construction. I don’t know whether we’ll manage to get my idea across on the screen. [. . .] I’ve got everything I need to put across what I want to say, which is really quite complicated. Therefore, if the idea I’ve got in mind doesn’t come across, it meant that either film is too primitive a medium to support such a construction or that all of us put together haven’t got enough talent for it.” – Krzysztof Kieslowski, June 1993 (1)

And from the judge, Jean-Baptiste Clamence, in Camus’ THE FALL:

“Today we are always ready to judge as we are to fornicate.” [77]

“People hasten to judge in order not to be judged themselves.” [80-81]

“My profession satisfied most happily that vocation for summits. It cleansed me of all bitterness toward my neighbor, whom I always obligated without ever owing him anything. It set me above the judge whom I judged in turn, above the defendant whom I forced to gratitude. Just weigh this, cher monsieur, I lived with impunity. I was concerned in no judgment; I was not on the floor of the courtroom, but somewhere in the flies like those gods that are brought down by machinery from time to time to transfigure the action and give it its meaning. After all, living aloft is still the only way of being seen and hailed by the largest number.” [25]

“In short, you see, the essential is to cease being free and to obey, in repentance, a greater rogue than oneself. When we are all guilty, that will be democracy. Without countering, cher ami, that we must take revenge for having to die alone. Death is solitary, whereas slavery is collective.” [136]

______________

Imagination in its fallen mode tends to construct explanations. It is unwilling to live without a comprehensive vision of an underlying reality in terms of which to understand things that an innocent imagination finds awesome and prefers to leave in shadow. It does not so much celebrate awesome facts as it first projects and then discovers meanings it takes to be more fundamental. It fails to notice its own activity in constructing the synthesis with which it is so impressed and so tends to become frozen in its new perspective. Though it often recommends itself as consciousness raising, it simply replaces a naive dogmatism with another dogmatism that is more subtle and more dangerous. [William James O’Brien, Stories to the Dark: Explorations in Religious Imagination 24, 48 (New York: Paulist Press, 1977)]

9 Responses to ““…wealth shields from immediate judgment, takes you out of the subway crowd to enclose you in a chromium-plated automobile, isolates you in huge protected lawns, Pullmans, first-class cabins. Wealth, cher ami, is not quite acquittal, but reprieve, and that’s always worth taking.””

  1. Jim K Says:
    January 27th, 2007 at 7:48 pm eIntense James quote: so much in such a little package.
    Most of what we see in popular opinion these days is
    arguments that stain their own premises to attain the
    predetermined goal. BS applied to the self. A bit scary.
    I like the connection to imagination, though.
    A reminder that not all imagination is the growth kind.
    The “Fallen form of imagination” may be the most common.
  2. Jim K Says:
    January 27th, 2007 at 7:49 pm eOops….I was talkiing about the William James O’Brien quote.
  3. Tim Caldwell Says:
    January 28th, 2007 at 5:44 pm eAmy,

    I recently discovered your writings. One very bright spot during a dark time.

    I look forward to reading more of your work.

    Best,

    Tim

  4. Sam Rasnake Says:
    January 29th, 2007 at 2:34 pm eKieslowski is one of my favoirite directors. Red is such a wonderful film. That is an interesting connection you’re making Amy.
  5. Amy King Says:
    January 30th, 2007 at 1:18 am eThank you: Jim, Tim, and Sam!

    I really wanted to type your names out in a row!

  6. Tim Caldwell Says:
    January 30th, 2007 at 5:03 am eAmy,

    I popped in to read some more of your entries, and saw your comment with those three single syllable names lined up, and i could hear the start of a Dr. Seuss story…

    You’ve got me interested in checking out “Red.”

    TC

  7. Amy King Says:
    January 30th, 2007 at 11:45 pm eHa! Another guy emailed that he was going to post about this entry, but he didn’t — woulda been good though: his name is Dan. Thanks, Jim, Tim, Sam, and Dan! Can’t plan that~

    Reading The Fall along with seeing Red would be the height — but is time-consuming. So see Red, at least! And his other work like The Decalogue, which is even more time consuming, but addictively-so. Enjoy!

  8. Sam Rasnake Says:
    February 1st, 2007 at 12:25 pm eDon’t forget The Double Life of Véronique, Amy. Major, major. Although… Decalogue is my favorite.
  9. Shitebot » Blog Archive » Overflowing Toilets From Above Says:
    February 10th, 2007 at 12:15 pm e[…] Not to be too much of a whiner, but I would have preferred to sleep in a little this morning. On the bright side, I recently started Netflix and this week I have watched the first two films of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s “Three Colors” trilogy. After I finish the laundry, I’ll probably put on some coffee and watch the final installment, “Red.” I have to admit that these films never made it on my radar. I know Kieslowski from “The Decalogue.” He’s a brilliant filmmaker. I have to credit Amy King, a local poet, for directing me to these films. She wrote recently about “Red” in her blog. Check out her writing. […]

Weekend Appreciations, In Brief
March 23, 2008

fingersmith.jpg

** The BBC production of Sarah Waters’ novel, Fingersmith. Suspenseful, Victorian constraint with a well-executed Sapphic theme and good acting all around, especially by Elaine Cassidy.

** A gorgeous American Masters’ production on Gregory Peck, an actor I’ve admired, and yes, loved for a long time.

** And all flarfing aside, from the inimitable Rodney Koeneke, two from his new book, Musee Mechanique:

Misogyny in Islam

Hey gurl
my page is betta than urs…

Hey Judge Judy…
wingless gargoyles cannot speak

Hey, is that true? events
transpired over 3000 years ago?

Hey cities of loud distress–
get yo’ ass free wireless

Hey, Macarena! How ’bout a
vapory security filter?

Hey, Jehovah, how ’bout that
Elks Club singalong? How ’bout those drunk Elks?

Hey. How do civilised people kill responsibly?
hehe…bye: C-U later ….

Lesbos

LonelySoul: what up, hayles?
LonelySoul2: break, bb! You’re a lesbo!

candy177: LOL that would be funny though…
“I am from Lesbian”

LonelySoul: wats up hun?
(christy22 hides in her hole)

Some say my lover’s face
DracoTempros pokes candy’s hole

LOL that would be fun though
BladeOfEquinox sings to Numb

BladeOfEquinox sings to Numb
christy fades into shadow

some say whatever
DracoTempros: the “Breast” Man

LonelySoul all tainted up
sits on the floor bruised and broken

I’m tired, Draco.
Draco’s tired.
some say how awesome

would it be
to see some horny lesbos.

Rodney Koeneke

_______________________

** Rounding out the set with not the least, one from Jenny Boully’s[one love affair]*:

…the entire catastrophe of being a poet …

The entire catastrophe of being a poet is that, after the
fact, everything will be too eerily coincidental: the fact
that the fire could not and would not light; the fact
that the kindling flamed fast only to extinguish itself;
the fact that the bed sheets were two sizes too small;
the suggestion the doves gave of not being able to
roost, of having to move on again. And later, some
evening without a fire, when the poet writes it down,
as she will and as she must, the other more obvious
metaphors of lameness, impotence, shame and weari-
ness: the thunderstorm that was not as tormenting as
the weatherman said it would be; that we could not,
try as we might, properly row our boat to shore; the
same storm’s lightning felling the old sycamore to
cinders and ash; the sound of a train in the distance;
the over-used view of the moon caught between
branches. And so, the entire catastrophe of the poet is
the conspiracy of the world, how everything can be
read yet how the poem the poet writes regarding this
written world will never be read by the one for whom
it is intended. The bridegroom after all is not ready,
will not tear through the scenery, does not have a
musical mating call. And when the snow storm comes
late in spring and gathers in clumps in your windows
and doorframe, and you know the wisteria is suffering
some other kind of forbearance, then you will know
what this means: a metaphor for another kind of de-
mystifying; another kind of premature parting; the
beginning of solitude and other such things.

Jenny Boully

One Response to “Weekend Appreciations, In Brief”

  1. Dan Coffey Says:
    July 17th, 2006 at 5:14 pm ePerhaps this is why I have such a hard time writing — I don’t want to spoil the happy coincidences by imprisoning them, and/or I don’t want to give the sad ones the benefit of no doubt.

*******

gypo.jpg


Just saw this film, GYPO, the first British release that engages the Dutch Dogme 95 style (all natural: no lighting, no make-up, no soundtrack, just a camera, standard sets, and script with a bit of improv, etc). It’s a good one that touches on xenophobia & class issues and has a little Sapphic love story to boot.

The film is told in three parts, and only in the third does the audience finally understand the events and character contemplations in the first and second parts — so I had to go back and re-watch some of it what was going on in the characters’ subtle actions to appreciate the absolutely fine acting. But this structure doesn’t detract, but rather, it adds to the suspence aspect and enhances the second viewing. Stellar work for something put together in something like thirteen weeks and on a minimal budget.

For a nice breakdown, click here.

The Da Vinci Code
March 23, 2008

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Folks are abuzz about this book & film — what am I missing? Did Da Vinci leave some cure in code for remedying hunger or preventing war? A recipe for sharing the wealth? I’m clueless about the premise and too lazy to look it up … someone …?

I will admit though, I’m one of those people who will see this movie in celebration of the semester’s end. I ought to be embarrassed by my lust for the fanatical fantastical. But I’m not, Hugh. Jackman. It’s like candy for the mind — too sweet & sour shortly but nice at first, claws and all.

I met Mark Lamoureux last night, among other noteworthy individuals: poets and musicians and whatnot. The two beauties pictured above are Gina Myers and Gabrielle Torres, editors for The Tiny. Thanks to them for a terribly festive night. I’m still recovering. And I still blame Shafer.

If any of my Children’s Lit students happen by, your photos appear after the poetry photos here. Just scroll through –> seek and ye shall find.

Responses to “The Da Vinci Code”

  1. Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Says:
    May 8th, 2006 at 12:45 am eYou and Shafer gave amazing readings last night. Every poem that I heard was truly excellent. Thanks for the poetry!
  2. Gina Says:
    May 8th, 2006 at 11:36 am eGlad you had a good time at the party! It took me all day yesterday to recover!
  3. shanna Says:
    May 9th, 2006 at 1:40 pm eShafer’s always to blame. Sorry to have missed it (again).
  4. aimee aka secret fan of the goo goo dolls Says:
    May 10th, 2006 at 10:06 pm ethe blood line of christ exists as mary magdalene was actually pregnant with his child when he was murdered and she escaped to france. the blood line has been kept secret by a secret society that da vinci was a member of (it actually exists) as was isaac newton and other notables. the book is not well written (dialogue -TERRIBLE) but the subject keeps you interested. i read it while recovering from surgery on my butt (another story).
  5. Aimee aka Lattegrrl or Queen of wrestling tight jeans Says:
    May 25th, 2006 at 6:37 pm eneed to say that I saw the movie and i thought it would be better than the book given the terrible dialogue, etc. BUT. I was wrong. although the movie was okay and ron howard does the best he can with what he got, it seems that the many twists and turns of the TOTALLY FICTION plot are too much to squeeze into a 2 hour movie while trying to educate the audience about leo da vinci and some other christian history. i say stick with the book and an art history text.

Cinephrastics
March 23, 2008

the_royal_tenenbaums.jpg

So I picked up this handmade chapbook the other day after a reading at St. Mark’s Poetry Project with the 21st century title, “Cinephrastics,” by Kathleen Ossip. I want to call these succinct poems “Impressions” (”phrastics” are, I believe, descriptors) as they were written after the author, in some cases, forced herself to see films she would not have typically selected. They are not reminiscences nor summaries of the films, but rather, they seem to be oblique commentaries that are keen, rife with awareness of the world they, and we, exist in. For instance,

THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS

The price of real estate burns us all.
Replete with symbolic capital,
we conjured a chatelaine, brunette,
her silverplated scissors hinting
at replenishing the irises,
long-bearded and brown and spooky, and
the debate a hip one, phrases like
ice. Came a warm night, we were as gods.
But a sulky night, puke moon, horndog.

One can nearly smell the SUVs and gas grills in the backyards, while Hollywood dresses up the scenes with hipster angst in the form of a lovely, but pseudo-darkened, Gwenneth Paltrow. That’s Luke Wilson, post long, brown beard. The allusions are there, but the impression Ossip delivers is more sophisticated than a film review, more multiple in its read or “rendering” — and conclusion. From mice to men, gods to horndogs, let the silverplated cutting begin …

Let’s try another, since even a mini-review really is about tempting you to the poems with the poems:

LOST IN TRANSLATION

Not so far from a Marc Jacobs
perfume ad. However, give me
Tokyo and Elvis C. and I’m
contended. Sex symbol =
Pizza face? Girls get younger and
younger; this, too, a threat. The dark
outside is genderless. Shadows
whisper from the monoliths, shells
open. I would like to be in
bed with some congenial person.

And curtain. All that I remember after seeing the film of the above title was that I had to strain to suspend disbelief the entire glossy, superficial time, “not so far from a Marc Jacobs/perfume ad”, in spite of liking Bill Murray as an actor. Alas, friends have told me that in the online dating world, women need to be at least ten years younger than the men they “are seeking.” I didn’t believe this until I saw an ad for a speed dating night at a restaurant on Long Island — the age ranges differed for men and women coming to the same meet, and guess who had to be at least five years younger? “The dark/outside is genderless.” Indeed, it should be, it even could be, as might the hope for a congenial person. I’d take the authentic Tokyo and Elvis C. over the ad anytime, too.

It’s also fun to read the poems of films I haven’t seen yet. In fact, it makes for an even broader engagement since I don’t have the shadows on a screen to attach the poem with. Ossip’s Cinephrastics stand firm away from the screen, while the titles conjure beyond their origins. I wasn’t going to post more of the work and take the fun out of your experience with Cinephrastics, but I will end with one that supports the preceding claim, while additionally noting how nicely made the chap is, complete with what seem like lovely lithographs printed on thick, textured paper. For more info on Kathleen Ossip’s chap, go to Horseless Press here. I haven’t seen the following film, and the poem itself makes me wonder if this would be Wittgenstein’s style if he had selected the poet hat for himself:

THE SORROW AND THE PITY

Reality — truth, call it — has a most
interesting texture. It is not slick
nor rough. Not velvet. It neither casts down
nor buoys up, but settles, unnoticed.
We summon reality by being
quiet. We don’t impose something extra
on it–we might call that judgment (signaled
by adjectives). It’s not easy to be
quiet beyond a certain duration.
Thirty seconds is a lifetime of ash.

~~~

Now for your cluster of quotes for the day and one more final recommendation:

“Picasso said, ‘You see, the situation is very simple. Anybody that creates a new thing has to make it ugly. The effort of creation is so great, that trying to get away from other things, the contemporary insistence, is so great that the effort to break it gives the appearance of ugliness.’”

–from “A Transatlantic Interview 1946″ in A Primer for the Gradual Understanding of Gertrude Stein (Black Sparrow Press)

Does it mean this, does it mean that, that’s all anybody wants to know. Fuck them, darling. I say what any decent poet would say if you dared ask him to analyse his work: If you see it, dear, then it’s there.

– Freddie Mercury

…[But] they can’t kill music. God knows, they’ve tried. But music always wins. As long as there’s kids coming up that have a passion. All the bean counters in the world can’t kill that. You know? You just can’t. They can try, of course, to feed you the most puerile, benign horse manure, but some kid’s going to come along and demand something more than that.

– John Hiatt

~~

And a couple of poems I found the other day by a young poet, whose work, upon further googling, hits home for me. She should contact me if she happens upon herself here along the way:


Immigrant Song #6

Here’s a candy dish shaped like a rooster.
And here’s the collection of cubic zirconium.
The extended family is four-leafed, curled
up on the Goodwill couch. Avoiding the bottoms
of teacups, gazing at the laminated blackbirds,
the sundials, the red wooden eggs.

Immigrant Song #12

My real language is made up of death-shaped consonants.
I keep them locked in a concrete box in the back of my
roped throat. Forked tongue, mentholated song. Bird
feathers glue-gunned to the edges of my passport.

–Daniela Olszewska (as published in Melancholia’s Tremulous Dreadlocks)

More of her stellar poems recently appeared in La Petite Zine.

~~~

2 Responses to “Cinephrastics”

  1. Sam Rasnake Says:
    May 20th, 2007 at 7:08 pm eI like Ossip’s approach. Great notion for a chapbook. Thanks for posting these, Amy.
  2. Jim K. Says:
    May 21st, 2007 at 2:47 am eMy first thought: makes a good drive vehicle to spark the work!
    It’s interesting to see the different thoughts that are stirred
    up in people by a film. The story seems to enter the mind,
    and be diffracted into another story or theme. Takes a few people’s
    impressions (as we see above) to understand the ‘dasein’ of
    each of them better.
    Now there’s an interesting idea: the spun-off impressions of
    a few different poets, to the same film.
    The chapbook is rather interesting if the reader has seen the film, though.
    Two camera angles.

After the Hoopla
March 23, 2008

brokeback-mountain-jake-gyllenhal-heath-ledger.jpg

I tend to avoid films once they’ve received too much media attention and praise. Maybe I want to be the rebel and avoid the crowd, but mostly, I just can’t stand to be let down after the build-up.

Not so with “Brokeback Mountain.” Not much to say because I’ve just returned home and am feeling slightly sad, sensitive, and speechless. But whatever political debate you decide to discuss after the credits roll, I will warn you: overall, this film will break your heart a little. After the debates (not to detract from Ang Lee’s deft handling of the larger social limitations), one is left with a sad love story to grapple with. I arrived home and weeped a little. Verging on a lot.

In fact, I just searched some reviews and found that Roger Ebert hits it on the head, “‘Brokeback Mountain’ could tell its story and not necessarily be a great movie. It could be a melodrama. It could be a ‘gay cowboy movie.’ But the filmmakers have focused so intently and with such feeling on Jack and Ennis that the movie is as observant as work by Bergman. Strange but true: The more specific a film is, the more universal, because the more it understands individual characters, the more it applies to everyone. I can imagine someone weeping at this film, identifying with it, because he always wanted to stay in the Marines, or be an artist or a cabinetmaker.” I’m not so sure about the Marines and cabinetmaker comparisons though …

And now I’m listening to Beck’s rendition of Daniel Johnston’s “True Love” to carry on with the current sentiment (it’s a lovely version, incidentally). How much more fitting is Barry Schwabsky’s poem below on top of the movie, the song, and the oncoming Noreaster that plans to bury New York City; I don’t know. But it’s a good one from his new chapbook, For Despair (Seeing Eye Books), so I’ll leave you to it. Here’s to a mellow & sleepy bittersweet Friday night, folks.

Hidden Track (Epilogue for Despair)

Sad and boring is what I call a sky
stirred turbid with used
watercolor brushes. It trusts me

out of one dead-dirty eye. Lazy lifted sky. Kick it
for me, paint me an angel, tempt
resemblance or self-

plagiarism, sullen antigirl, but it’s
pleasure doing business
with smoky perspiration. I’ll think

your zigzag songs back and then ahead.