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Poetry and Hollywood

By D.A. Powell

Major Jackson’s post about poetry birthdays prompted me to pull out my copy of A Book of Days for the Literary Year, put out in 1984 by the Book-of-the-Month Club, this being Allen Ginsberg’s birthday.
This was also the day in 1964 when T.S. Eliot wrote to Groucho Marx: “The picture of you in the newspaper saying that, amongst other reasons, you have come to London to see me has greatly enhanced my credit line in the neighborhood, and particularly with the greengrocer across the street.”

PoBiz and ShowBiz make for some unlikely pairings. When Gertrude Stein came back to America and was feted in Hollywood, she was asked whom she most wanted to meet. Her answers: Dashiell Hammett (who was writing screenplays in those days) and Charles Chaplin.
Recently, I sat on a panel with, among others, Michael McClure. I had asked each panelist to introduce the work of someone whom he or she perceived to be part of the “next generation” of American poetry. McClure introduced the work of former Joan of Arcadia star Amber Tamblyn.
And apparently director John Waters’ favorite poet is Mary Oliver; they have been friends for decades. Maybe Oliver had in mind one of Waters’ classic films when she wrote “An Old Whorehouse,” which ends:
It would be years before
we’d learn how effortlessly
sin blooms, then softens,
like any bed of flowers.

Comments (3)

  • On June 4, 2008 at 7:59 am Emily Warn wrote:

    Is that Gertrude and Alice tugging at Divine’s leash?

  • On June 4, 2008 at 11:30 pm D. A. Powell wrote:

    Hi Emily,
    I’m not sure what the names of those particular dogs are.
    But doesn’t Mary Oliver’s dog look like Gertrude’s dog “Basket?”

  • On June 7, 2008 at 1:13 pm maria d wrote:

    groucho marx trumps tseliot any day in the poetry department!

Posted in Uncategorized on Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008 by D.A. Powell.