Tuesday, November 27, 2018

I have a poem...

I am always a bit nervous when I see poets portrayed in entertainment.  Usually, it's a little ridiculous...I'm thinking Mother!  here or that terrible  Gwyneth Paltrow movie about Plath.  When that movie came out, I remember wishing they'd cast Maggie Gyllenhaal in the role--she not only resembled Plath so much more, but had a certain American-ness Paltrow has never had.(or maybe she's just been in too many films with a fake British accent.)  Regardless, Gyllenhaal does play a poet in The Kindergarten Teacher and she plays it well.  The film makes you uneasy from the start, her escalating obsession with a 5 year old's words, passing off his work, at first, as her own in class, then a failing attempt to nurture his creativity in a world that does not give two shits about creativity or art or anything beyond the screen of a cell phone.  It's the kind of movie that drags your heart across the floor.  The kind of movie where the drastic end results seem like the only results the film could have had.    Her desperation is our desperation. The ending sticks a knife in with the last line of the child "I have a poem.." and no one there to listen.

I was actually less disturbed by her drastic actions and obsession with the boy and his words than I was by the creepy antics of her writing teacher, who uses the cultivation of her apparent (but false)  brilliance as a chance to seduce her.  When I watched the movie, I had just finished reading an article about the po-biz bro creeper du jour, and it turned a particular sour note in my stomach.  The men who are seen as doorways or mentors into some sort of literary world who prey on young female poets. I suppose it happens in other arts just as frequently.  One day, I was waiting for the elevator in the Fine Arts and had to listen to an older musician talking to a young girl and it was both mansplainy and creepy  I kind of had to stop listening. While I've never seemed to be the kind of girl you take under your wing I have  had occasional men, usually older, try to offer advice or feedback over the years and usually, I had an immediate knee-jerk fuck off reaction (even if I was polite in my response.)  Usually not exactly b/c they were men, though lately society is testing that, but moreso that I wasn't really asking for help or advice. ( but this also seems to be a more male trait in that regard.)  

But so often there is the story of the dudes, all ages and demographics, who front like they hold some sort of key to the door of the literary world and it's troubling how much power that gives them over novice poets who are new to things. That they have connections and reputations that can help you.  perhaps the best way to dispel this is to acknowledge there really is no one particular literary scene but multiple, and whatever they're claiming to have the key to, they probably do not.

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