Visualizing the Invisible: Bright Star

Bright Star movie poster

 

As an English Major in another life, I’m not uninterested in poetry, or Keats in particular. Movies about poetry are another matter. It’s difficult to imagine a less natural source material for the eminently visual medium of cinema than poetry. You can mute the sound, drain the color, or take off the 3D spectacles, but the one thing you can’t subtract from movies is the moving picture.

Other filmmakers have tried to visualize essentially invisible things before: scents (Perfume), academic research (The Da Vinci Code), and math (A Beautiful Mind, Pi). The handful of movies about writing (Capote, Factotum, Henry & June, Wonder Boys) are nearly outnumbered by movies about not writing (Shakespeare in Love, Barton Fink, Adaptation, The Shining).

Abbie Cornish in Jane Campion's Bright Star“Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art”

When it comes to poetry, the most internal and abstract form of writing, it’s slightly disappointing that the most writer/director Jane Campion makes of it is to have her characters read verse aloud. However luscious the cinematography, it doesn’t help that the historical Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish) and John Keats (Ben Whishaw) weren’t all that interesting as dramatic characters. The former is a lovestruck obsessive and the latter a sickly artiste not meant for this mundane world. It’s the standard biopic cliché: the insufferable wunderkind and the suffering woman that loves him anyway. At least, in this case, Keats wasn’t an addict (q.v.: Factotum, Bird, Ray, Walk the Line, Walk Hard, etc.).

Fanny reads Keats’ sonnet about her “Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art” at the close of the film. She lived to witness his posthumous recognition, and never stopped mourning him.


Official movie site: www.brightstar-movie.com

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Flarf! Gesundheit. More Spam Poetry prior art

Forget “spoetry”; according to Boing Boing, experiments in the field stretch back a few years, and were known as “flarf”. The Flarf Festival is a series of live events in New York City between April 20-22.

For archival purposes, here are my own three attempts:

Spam Poem No. 3: “General Flood”

General Flood

thank god I’m back now
Important question
did you hear about this
general flood

you won’t believe this
bereavement
entering the line of
populations if left

after flooding is
it, Will it work out?
conditions will be
hard as nails

A spell by ballistics
shrewd may aim some
hey girl gunfight uproarious
Ten Minutes to Your Life

if we’d had the time
Save your house
Get what you need
plays on the small

Spam Poem No. 2: “250 Ways to Thank You”

The second in a series of found poetry taken from spam subjects. I’m taking a different tack this time, avoiding the more absurdist lines that appear in No. 1 “Here we come!” (there’s plenty more of that waiting for No. 3) and aiming instead for a coherent narrative flow.

250 Ways to Thank You

Don’t tell anyone please
about celebration

Are you ignoring me?
do you care?
is it funny?
It’s not a joke

I’ve Got a solution for you
good idea
if you need it
here you go

The Great Experiment
something unusual
nice gift for everyone
Get what you need

Don’t feel bad
You have been selected
Let’s meet up again soon
one more time

Spam Poem No. 1: “Here we come!”

In recent months I’ve noticed my spam becoming increasingly bizarre. Some subject lines are so truly absurd that I cannot imagine their origin. Are they simply really bad translations of, say, Russian or Portuguese? Are they random machine generations meant to foil spam filters? It’s a mystery.

It has, however, made my daily batch of spam less of a nuisance and more a source of amusement. In a way, I feel lucky for my email address to have been captured on some particularly strange mailing lists.

Sometimes, a line is strangely poignant: “He worry in unabridged volumes.” Perhaps this unnamed protagonist simply needs more Viagara or a new Nigerian Ponzi scheme in which to invest, but doesn’t it just break your heart that he worries that much?

Which brings me to what may be the first in a series of found Spam Poems. I’ve started compiling these sometimes gibberish, sometimes evocative lines into verse. Each line is a complete spam subject line, completely unedited. The only thing I’ve done is arrange them in stanzas with an ABAB rhyming scheme.

This first poem launches with a strong declaration and call to action, explores historic strife and existentialism in the second stanza, and then looks deep into the soul’s insecurities in the third. I hope you like it.

Here We Come!

here we come! stop deconvolution
That organise go bantamweight
Be open he loon affliction
Have buy as evaporate

Be want do holocaust galaxy
dedicated to you occident inflater
My travel on minstrelsy
Which rules are in effect here? devilish calorimeter

A speak my scared fixedly
my wife onerous carmine
you tell do exercise villainies
As turnon an vine