Poetry News

Escape Into Life Reviews New Diane Wakoski 'Docufantasy'

By Harriet Staff
Diane Wakoski

We're thrilled that Escape Into Life is drawing attention to Jesseca Ynez Simmons's "docufantasy" aboout the poet Diane WakoskiEmerald Ice. In reviewing the short film, EIL explains: " To quote one of Wakoski’s poems, 'You must use / your imagination / for this film' and Simmons certainly did!" From there: 

The film opens with a poem excerpt using the phrase “emerald ice” and then offers marvelous images drawn from the poems and evocative in themselves: an orange and an orange grove, snowflakes morphing into bits of fire, a cliff at the ocean’s edge, motorcycles, tall grasses, a burning piano, and then a beautiful interior filled with glass. The film does not quite tell a story; it does not quite shape itself into conventional narrative; it lets the viewer continue to imagine what might be there. 

Diane Wakoski famously sent people back to her poems when they asked for her biography. Simmons uses that in her film: “Diane Wakoski was born in California in 1937. The poems in her published books give all the important information about her life.” Her poems are indeed autobiographical and specific, but also incorporate myth, history, and persona, and we hear her own words as evidence of this in the voiceover: “to recognize I am not just one thing” and “the story of my life is that it goes on.” Wakoski is called a “conversational” poet, and the poems do often sound like someone talking to us, so it is both fitting and surprising that she is talking to us in the film, since her voice also has a removed quality, both human and abstract, as if she is in the foreground and the background at once. We do see her, sitting in the room of glass, but we see other characters, too, in the narrative we must imagine on our own. 

Read more, and check out the trailer, at Escape Into Life.

Originally Published: August 18th, 2017
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