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« Round 2: Nick Flynn's Favorite Covers [by Phoebe Putnam] | Main | poetry problem; or I wake up and spend twenty dollars [Jennifer Michael Hecht] »

July 29, 2009


Dearest SDH, 250 miles away and we were, without knowing it, watching the same movie. (You probably assumed I had a ballgame on.) The poet with the three names in the episode you describe was William Cullen Bryant, as I recall, which surprised the heck out of me. There would have been more conventional choices. And that came after the scene in which he shows the kids that, though humiliated in a public test when they couldn't define words such as "utopia" (nice choice, since the meaning of the Latin word is "nowhere"), they have their own lingo, ghetto slang. And then the steamy sex scenes -- meant to titillate but also to convey to the angry young men something about the sexual desires of women. And didn't he also have them read D.H. Lawrence aloud? When the boy in awe says "that's beautiful!" it's one of literature's finest cinematic moments. Let's see it again -- this time together.

Aww, you guys!

David! You're right, it was Lady Chatterley's Lover not Madame Bovary and it was a great moment in the movie. I guess I was half asleep by then. Should I change the post? (RE: Lady C's Lover, I do remember finding it on the bookshelf of a family I babysat for when I was 12 or 13 and being quite interested in the passage with the phrase, "her pendulous breasts . . .")Another bit of info: the actor Otis Day is not the same person who later formed the band "Otis Day and the Nights" for the movie Animal House. Hah! Can't believe you watched it, too David.

i believe the greatest poetry scene is Natalie Wood reading Wordsworth in "Splendor in the Grass." More recently I think there is also poetry reading in "The History Boys," but I don't recall for sure. The granddaddy of the film genre you mention is "The Blackboard Jungle." About ten yrs ago there was a film about a calculus teacher in LA; I think it was called "Stand and Deliver," but again not certain. As a former hs teacher I love any scene in a classroom. Among European films, there's great stuff in "The 400 Blows," "Amarcord," and "Lonliness of the Long Distance Runner."

Mitch, the scene with Natalie Wood breaking down in the midst of reciting the penultimate part of Wordsworth's "Immortality Ode" is, I believe, Stacey's favorite, though you would also enjoy the ingenious use director Don Siegel makes of Frost's "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" in the 1970s Charles Bronson espionage thriller, "Telefon."

Mitch, David is right, the Splendor in the Grass scene is my favorite and the reason I started reading poetry as a girl. I posted it here.

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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