FROM THE AUTHOR:
I blame both filmmaker Robert Altman and tap dancing for my journey into the mysterious world of poetry. A rather incongruous pair, right? So I've got some explaining to do. For many, many years I functioned fairly well as a practicing movie addict and somewhat conventional film critic. Then one morning way back in 2002, I sat down to write a review of Altman's Gosford Park. As I looked at the blank page, my toes started tapping rhythmically - and to my great surprise, a poem about the movie danced onto the page. Here's the first of five verses:
You're invited for a weekend at a country estate.
Pack your finest duds, wouldn't want to be late.
Arriving in the drawing room, you're surrounded by class.
Who's who and what's what, you are dying to ask.
Doin' the Gosford Park shuffle.
Now, freeze frame that for a minute while we go back farther in time. During my teens, nextto the movies I loved tap dancing best. It got me through some very hard times while growing up. I enjoyed the beat of tap routines and even felt more in tune with the universe when I practiced or performed them. And the lyrics of those popular tunes I danced to fascinated me.
No wonder my poems rely heavily on rhythm and rhyme and give me such pleasure while writing or reading them out loud. In fact, if you read the entire Gosford Park Shuffle poem out loud to me right now, I would be tap dancing along to the sound of your voice, especially if you emphasize the poem's beat and rhyme scheme.
Although that review earned praise from a number of readers, I still continued writing traditional film critiques until A Prairie Home Companion, another Robert Altman film, appeared on the scene. Altman is one of my favorite directors, so it pained me to pan Gosford Park, even in a poem. Here was a chance to give this terrific director some well-deserved praise! And so Ode to A Prairie Home Companion came to life, accompanied by more toe-tapping.
Since then, I've written 70 film poems - all included in Cinema Stanzas: Rhyming About Movies --which represents a small portion of over 1,000 reviews contributed to various outlets. However, because my film poem/reviews receive such enthusiastic feedback -- and because I enjoy writing them so much -- I find myself turning to this format more and more lately. Still, it remains a mystery how the poems come to me. I do, however, try to heed the following advice from a real poet.
Tell all the truth but let it slant. Celebrate the ordinary and be choosy. - Emily Dickinson