Friday, January 11, 2013

James Franco: Phile or Phobia

I've a lot of friends who really hate the idea of James Franco The Poet. I don't think they necessarily hate Mr. Franco himself--but they're Francophobes when it comes to poetry.

David Shook interviews and micro-reviews Franco here. I think there are three important things we discover.

1: Franco is not a terrible poet. Shook quotes him:

My bus is muscular;
A brontosaurus
With a tiny brain
That is me.

Looking out.

While this quote is hardly enough to inspire full criticism, I do love "my bus is muscular." That's proof of at least the potential of a good ear.

2: Franco has some valuable thoughts on poetry's place among the other literary arts:

"Poetry is not more universal than film. Film is the universal language. So is music. But poetry is too bound up in particular written languages to be universal. And because it often uses language in more intricate and complex ways than prose it is harder to translate. It is a great conveyer of emotion, but lyric emotion, meaning emotion bound up with imagery and written language. Film and performance can convey emotion much more directly than poetry, but poetry can reveal more complex emotions than performance. It can put the reader inside a character’s head in ways that film can not."

3: The publication of his book in 2014 will be interesting.

I, for one, hope that James Franco uses his name recognition to help poetry in general and not just his own name recognition. His reading list of poets was a bit scant and I've got several suggestions for him. Are you interested, James Franco? Let me know.


stu said...


But poetry is too bound up in particular written languages to be universal.

OK, I think he's missed the bus here, muscular or not. Poetry is too bound up in particular spoken languages to be universal.

This isn't to say that I think poetry that is revealed as such through the accidents of written representation is impossible, I just don't think it's been seriously attempted, calligraphy notwithstanding.

BTW, the capchas are really annoying. I think you can do more with less.

G. M. Palmer said...

I took off the captchas. Didn't know I had the option.


stu said...


G. M. Palmer said...

I did, however, have to turn anonymous commenting off. My spam folder filled up within 24 hours.

stu said...

Yeah. There's definitely a goldilocks phenomenon at work. Too much is is way too much. Too little is way too little.