Fred Poets Society

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I’ve decided to trade in guns for poetry.

If I haven’t completely alienated you with my hippie declaration — it’s all very 1967 Sumer of Love, isn’t it? — please read on.

I’ve never shot a gun let alone owned one, so I’m not literally making a swap like they do in those cities where folks can trade in their firearms for gift cards .  I’ve merely concluded that I’m no longer interested in seeing movies that glorify violence.  Simultaneously, and perhaps not coincidentally, I’ve recently rediscovered my love of poetry.  Hence the switcheroo.

This past weekend, for the second time in six months, I walked out of a movie.  The first time was last August when I sat through over two hours of The Dark Knight Rises before deciding it just wasn’t for me.  Perhaps the shootings at the midnight screening of said movie in Aurora, Colorado, last summer were still haunting me.  Perhaps in a post-9/11 world I just don’t like watching the bridges surrounding New York City being blown to pieces, even if I know intellectually that it’s merely a big screen comic book fantasy.  All I know is I wasn’t enjoying the film like I thought I should and I just got up and walked out with only twenty minutes left to go.  I loved Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, so this was definitely a new development.

This past weekend I walked out of Django Unchained after an hour and a half.   I had been a fan of Tarantino’s movies in the past: Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and Kill Bill Vol 1 & 2. (I never saw Grindhouse nor Inglourious Basterds.)  It felt different this time.  I’m still upset about the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in December and I no longer have the stomach for Tarantino’s signature blood and guts.

Both Django Unchained and The Dark Knight Rises are critical and commercial successes and I have no problem with those who enjoy these movies.  This blog post is not intended to be an anti-NRA rant nor any kind of political statement.  I’m just coming to the conclusion that as I get older — and as the world becomes more violent — I’m only going to buy tickets to movies that inspire me (The Impossible) or make me laugh (Pitch Perfect) and/or tell a great story (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) without any gun play.  My days of seeing violent movies just because everyone else is or because they’re nominated for awards are over.  But that’s just me.

With my newfound free time, I’ve decided to read more poetry.  Three things have occurred recently that have inspired me to do so:

1.  I attended an event at the 92nd Street Y in New York where several poets read from the works of Adrienne Rich.  The woman who has been called “one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the 20th century” died last March.   Her final volume, Later Poems Selected and New (1971 – 2012), was published in November and it’s breathtaking.

2.  I’m currently reading Jess Walters’ The Financial Lives of the Poets.  While the title is misleading — it’s about a guy who has lost his job and is at risk of losing his wife and his home — this smart, oddly funny story does include a little rhyming couplet, free verse or haiku in most of the chapters.

3.  I was blown away by Richard Blanco’s reading of his original poem “One Today” at Monday’s Presidential Inauguration.  The poem is gorgeous, as is his reading of it.  If you somehow missed it, check out;

So there you have it.  As uncool as it may seem, poetry has brought me great joy over the years and this recent resurgence has encouraged me to skip the violent movies and read more verse.

In 1839, Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”  I say “the poem is mightier than the gun.”  But, again, that’s just me.

TODAY’S POLL:  Which movie about a poet is your favorite? 

Bright Star

Il Postino

Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle

Shakespeare in Love

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