The Cineaste, a collection of poems by A. Van Jordan, is a filmgoer’s delight. It is hard to imagine that any of my readers, or anyone interested in films, would not enjoy these varied, amusing, moving poems, all bearing the titles of films. As an epigraph at the head of each of the short works, Jordan offers the name of the director of the film and its date. Movies included range from 1903 (The Great Train Robbery of Edwin S. Porter to 2003 (Oldboy by Park Chan-Wook. I am happy to find some favorite movies included: The Brother from Another Planet, Pather Panchali, M, Do the Right Thing, Ikiru and The Red Balloon.,
Each poem in some way uses or treats its film subject, but film enthusiast Jordan has internalized these movie wonders. Through them he writes about the world and about himself. I find I am moved by poems centered on films I’ve never seen (Blazing Saddles, Westworld). I am excited to find my first real understanding of Last Year at Marienbad as a result of Jordan’s poem of that name.
An appendix contains brief comments on each film, one of the most challenging about The Red Balloon: “If you can’t relate to this story, I feel sorry for you.” A highly charged note is that for the collection’s single long poem, in the form of a screenplay, springing from Oscar Michaux’s now lost 1919 film The Homesteader.
This book is a sure-fire gift success for anyone in your life who loves film as much as you do.
The Cineaste by A. Van Jordan, Norton, 2013. Jordan is also the author of Rise; M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A; and Quantum Lyrics.
NEXT FRIDAY POST NOVEMBER 22
See you at the movies,