Naturally, I’m not the only one asking questions like those I’ve posed here. Charles Bernstein has already been asked the “what poem would you send Obama” question, so he sends his reply to that in the form of links to his previous replies, one in text format and one in audio:
My book recommendations for Obama, Palin, McCain, & Biden at the Poetry Foundation .
Meanwhile, just as a consensus is building around Lucille Clifton for public office (she gets another vote — two votes, really — today from Ann Fisher-Wirth), so is a consensus building around Wallace Stevens as a poet whose work merits love but doesn’t exactly invite understanding. Fisher-Wirth puts Stevens in a group with Hopkins and Rilke, and Gregory Dowling votes for Stevens’ “Esthétique du Mal.”
Dowling is also surely the first human to have thought of making a movie from a Stevens poem: his suggestion, which makes perfect sense once noted, though I for one would never have come up with it, is “Comedian as the Letter C” directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp. Fisher-Wirth suggests a movie of Patricia Smith’s book about Katrina, Blood Dazzler, and also drops a hint to any studio moguls reading this blog, that her own forthcoming book, Carta Marina, would make a good movie.
No one is going to outdo Sarah Maclay, though, on the movie suggestions. Here are hers:
House of Incest, the long prose poem by Anais Nin
Direction: Julian Schnabel, Werner Herzog or Wim Wenders
Because: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Nosferatu and Wings of Desire show us how they enter that territory of dream, of the liminal, of the place where image—where
David Lynch or Julie Taymor might also be good. (Think Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive and Frida.)
Casting: let us begin with Ms. Cotillard
If we film “Prufrock,” we must cast Woody Allen. And if we want to do The Waste Land, to go back to the spirit of He Do the Police in Different Voices, how about a whole cadre of directors, shifting, without announced transition, whenever the vocal/scene changes occur? Am thinking of everyone from the Coen brothers to Sally Potter . . . or at least, shifting section by section.
And let the world take note that I, who have been thought of as utterly harmless by, well, everyone since high school (when it was the mothers of the girls I went out with, not the girls themselves, who liked me), have been referred to — by a woman! — as “dangerous.” Bless you, Sarah!
Apparently, though, I still am not as dangerous as Sister Somebody from Philip Metres’ elementary school, who terrified one of Metres’ classmates into peeing in her seat. Hmmmm. That sounds like a challenge for next semester: could I so terrify a COLLEGE STUDENT that he or she would pee in his or her seat? I note, too, that the elementary school teacher question is eliciting a few belated declarations of love, such as Metres’ for Miss Neubauer. But most of them actually remember the names of the teachers with whom they were smitten. I can’t remember the name of the ultra-hot redhead who was my second-grade teacher. Though I do remember others with whom I was not in love: Mrs. Foote, the music teacher who drew the musical staff on the board with that great little device — what’s it called? — that holds five pieces of chalk at once; Mrs. Ridout, who rolled the chalk between her hands so that it went clack-clack-clack on her wedding ring, and who pronounced the state “Massatooshus”; et al.
Metres, on a more elevated note, cites Mahmoud Darwish, in Fady Joudah’s fine translations, as his non-American poet we should be reading.