Bards on film
By David Livewell
I am a night owl and was addicted to The Charlie Rose Show on PBS, which airs at midnight in the Philadelphia area. The two conditions went hand-in-hand for years. I need more sleep now, and I have a DVR to record the interview show. Sleep problem solved. I witnessed great, commercial-free conversations. I wished Charlie had more poets as guests. I was lucky enough to catch Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott, Kay Ryan, and Stanley Kunitz on his program over the years. The intimacy of their voices drew me in. I felt closer to their gifts after seeing them in these intense conversations at the round, oak table against the black background. Those interviews primed me for longer documentaries about poets. In an age of visibility and saturation, how deeply should we know our poets? The frenzy for more biographical facts about Shakespeare or Dickinson never loses steam, and the lives often do shed more light on the dark mysteries of the poetry. I just saw a show about the contents of Shakespeare’s grave. In 1995 the literary world was salivating when a previously unknown daguerreotype of Dickinson was discovered at a junk sale, as if even one more image of her could unlock a different aspect of her genius. Some very good novelists have taken up fictional accounts about conjectured incidents in the lives of Keats, Blake, Shakespeare, Poe, Dickinson, and others. There are levels of biography and obscurity.
My poetry-reading friends sometimes are reluctant to watch documentary films about poets. Maybe overly dramatic and inept biopics have soured them. Biographical dramas about artists, musicians, and writers can be disappointing. I’m reluctant to watch the new films about Hemingway or Miles Davis, for instance. Do we know any more about the poetry of Plath, Eliot, or Keats after seeing such fictionalized films as Sylvia, or Tom and Viv, or Bright Star? Hollywood plays up the tortured artists’ painful lives and sheds little or no light on the craft of writing. Although it would be boring to watch a writer sitting all day at a desk, life and art are rarely separate no many how many literary theorists think otherwise. Poetry emanates from the living body and through the mind. I go to documentaries about my favorite poets to get more of them. I watch to gain insight into the aspects of poets’ lives that I can’t get from the page or from printed interviews. When a great teaching poet dies, we often hear descriptions from former students about how great the lectures were. Those moments are lost forever for the rest of us.
Whenever I teach poetry in a university, I sense distrust for the art form itself. The students trust their own feelings and opinions in an age of social media, but they often distrust poets (read Ben Lerner’s recent treatise, The Hatred of Poetry). They see poems as unnecessarily difficult, as puzzles that can’t be solved and are written for other poets. Films can break down these misconceptions. Students can watch men and women who have dedicated the best parts of themselves to the art of poetry, the discipline of poetry with all its pleasures and failures. That is the intensity that may be needed to convince the next generation of readers that poetry is worth pursuing. As a culture, we love difficult pursuits: sports, singing, American Ninja Warrior, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and video games. Why would we want less of a challenge from our literature?
Because poetry writing is a solitary act, it must be strange for the poet when a film crew arrives at the door and the microphones and cameras are set in place beside the bookshelves. The poet must think, “What readers will care to watch this?” Feature-length documentaries about contemporary poets are a relatively recent phenomenon. These films exist as another tool for readers. Poets’ autobiographies can be filled with exaggeration and may explain only certain dimensions of the poetry and life. Authorized and unauthorized biographies can confuse the matter even more. Does the biographer have an agenda (like the menacing Frost biography by Lawrance Thompson)? Did the poet’s estate allow full access to diaries, letters, early drafts, etc.? Did friends and contemporaries cooperate or twist the truth to rewrite history? Such questions arose for me when reading biographies of Larkin, Frost, and Hughes. I wish all poets’ biographies could be as informative, professional, and pleasurable as Langdon Hammer’s recent biography of James Merrill. Likewise, I treasure the book-length interview that Dennis O’Driscoll conducted with Seamus Heaney (who died in 2013), but I almost dread any full-length, overly sincere biography that might be done about that Irish poet. A well-done documentary, however, can offer another path into a poet’s work.
In addition to film documentaries, I enjoy podcasts and radio programs about poets. The New Yorker, The Poetry Foundation, RTE, and the BBC produce many of these quality programs. A reader also can watch online interviews with and readings by favorite poets like never before. But a filmed documentary takes us on a more layered journey. It gives us a visual dimension into the life and work. Poets are often more candid in casual conversation on film than they might be in their written responses, say to a Paris Review interviewer. We can get a sense of their domestic atmospheres, their speech patterns, their temperaments, their relatives, friends, their landscape and milieu—all factors that may have helped shape the poetry. We get a truer flavor of their personality, too. I began to search for films about poets to fill in some of the blanks. Because poetry and commerce do not go hand-in-hand, these films are not always in plain sight and often have meager marketing budgets.
A friend had me record some of my own poems for a few short films. He used still photography (mostly my own) that represented my subject matter. Many casual readers were drawn in with an excitement the printed page couldn’t offer. The reactions were shocking to both of us. Viewers of the short films on YouTube sent the links to friends. We couldn’t believe the number of hits they received—probably more than a year’s worth of book sales. People were drawn more to the verse through the medium of the visual and the aural. Poetry is the oldest form of literature in most cultures, an oral tradition that is tied intrinsically to the memory and to the human voice. Perhaps new technologies return us to those ancient roots as if we sat again around the campfire listening to the local bard.
I hope The American Masters series will offer more poets. I am not enthralled with the poems of Carl Sandburg or Maya Angelou, but the films about those poets on PBS were well done, and their lives were often more interesting than the poems. The American Masters Walt Whitman feature channeled much more intensity than other programs in the series, and I also enjoyed their episode on the always-entertaining Allen Ginsberg (The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg).
In general, the Beat poets are well represented on film. I watched another impressive, independent film on Ferlinghetti (A Rebirth of Wonder) and one that featured Gary Snyder and Jim Harrison conversing about the environment while taking a walk on the untouched trails of the central California coast (The Practice of the Wild from Whole Earth Films). It is refreshing to see films about serious living poets (although we just lost Mr. Harrison this year). Recently, I stumbled across a well-done film, Robert Bly: A Thousand Years of Joy (www.robertblyfilm.com). This poet crossed from the printed page into activism and social commentary. Thinkers, actors, and writers (Jane Hirshfield, Gary Snyder, Philip Levine, and Donald Hall) describe this unique writer and talk about his cultural importance. He had friendships and ties to the Beats and the New York School of poets, but he made his own path and was outspoken about world peace and political matters. The film contains a lot of vintage footage as well: interviews, readings, demonstrations, and conferences.
I have yet to see the recent films about Alice Walker and Sonia Sanchez, but the trailers I found online were enticing. To celebrate National Poetry Month this year, several of these films were featured at The Poetry in Motion Film Festival (http://rafaelfilm.cafilm.org/poetry-in-motion/). More than one filmmaker told me that their only revenue came from individual DVD sales. With all the cable stations to choose from, it is sad that we can’t have a government-funded station to support films about artists.
My earliest remembrance of films about poets was the PBS series, Voices & Visions, which aired in 1988. In 13 episodes, actors, critics, and poets explored some of the heavy hitters of American poetry: Crane, Whitman, Dickinson, Williams, Stevens, Hughes, Moore, Plath, Frost, Lowell, Bishop, Eliot, and Pound. Some of the talking heads included Richard Wilbur, Seamus Heaney, James Laughlin, Anthony Hecht, Helen Vendler, and Harold Bloom. Family members and friends were also interviewed. Although a bit dated now in their production value and pacing, these films remain historically significant and can be viewed again for free on the Annenberg Learner site (http://www.learner.org/resources/series57.html). Archival footage of the poets accompanies many of the poems.
Despite these American efforts, Ireland and Great Britain may have us beat by a long shot. Arts funding seems much more important across the pond. Many of my favorite poets are Irish or Scottish, so I was pleased to find great films about those poets. The BBC has offered consistent excellence in the field. I wish I could find them all in some central place from here across the pond. I have caught glimpses in BBC programs about Ted Hughes, Dylan Thomas, and John Betjeman. I would love to see all of the Omnibus episodes, especially a 1976 feature on one of my favorite Scottish poets, George Mackay Brown. In short clips I have seen, he walks the cobbled lanes of his beloved Stromness, a town in the Orkney Islands. We listen to him chat at his kitchen worktable and by the fire in his rocking chair. We feel the sensitivity, vulnerability, and charm that are present in his books. The National Library of Scotland has an impressive site where short films about poets are available (http://movingimage.nls.uk/search.cfm?search_term=poet). I urge a quick look there, especially at the program about the witty and talented Norman MacCaig who says, “[Poetry] gives you an enlarged sensitivity to minute things with no expense, except pleasure.” Also, two programs about the big gun, Hugh MacDiarmid, contain wonderful black-and-white footage of the poet. The Sorley MacClean piece is not to be missed either as he discusses his career. Scottish TV also offered a delightful little one-on-one interview show called Off the Page. On YouTube you can find episodes with the Scottish poets MacCaig, Alistair Reid, MacLean, Iain Crichton Smith, Liz Lochhead, and Edwin Morgan.
BBC Four produced an impressive-looking series with the poet-host Owen Sheers, A Poet’s Guide to Great Britain. (The DVD collection came out in 2010.) Sheers is comfortable and compelling in front of the camera. He takes us to six locations, the settings of six famous British poems. We hear the poem while witnessing the stunning cinematography of their settings. We learn the background and the historical and artistic significance of each work. These short segments would be a great addition to any literature class.
I remember, in 1991, an excellent BBC South Bank program about Seamus Heaney. (I still cannot locate the South Bank Shows about Hughes, Larkin, and Betjeman.) The host, Melvyn Bragg (also a novelist), did a fantastic job interviewing Heaney about his new book, Seeing Things, while also taking the viewer on poetic journeys through the use of voice-overs and dramatized scenes from various poems. This was a great entrance into a new book. Heaney offered a bit of background to the poems in a way he might have done if one had the rare chance to sit down with him in a Dublin pub. He tells, for instance, why his 50th birthday led him to meditate on the smaller marvels in his life. The show made me buy the book immediately and read it with great anticipation.
I am haunted by a 1999 television (BBC and RTE) program (Keeping Time) that I was lucky enough to see through a friend. To celebrate his 60th birthday, filmmakers captured Heaney in a dilapidated country house reading his poetry. He stands at dramatic, rain-streaked windows to whisper his lines. He sits at rustic kitchen tables to recite childhood poems. He walks up grand staircases and strolls a ruined garden, reciting many of his most famous poems from memory. The scenes are bare and intense, as if you’re witnessing private moments of poetic enlightenment in a time-ravaged space. Interspersed with the quiet readings, Liam O’Flynn, a good friend of Heaney’s, appears in other echoing rooms playing traditional Irish music on the uilleann pipes and a tin whistle, a powerful combined effect. On Amazon, the CD of the readings and music is available, The Poet & the Piper. I recommend it highly.
I sought out more films. I obtained copies of Out of the Marvellous and Personal Places, both issued by RTE in Ireland. The former is a full-length documentary (out on DVD) about Heaney’s poetry and career. The latter is a riveting documentary about an Irish poet who is lesser known in the United States, Thomas Kinsella.
We hear from Heaney’s wife, his friends, and colleagues. We follow him to readings at Harvard, sit with him in his living room, accompany him on drives to his writing cottage in the country, and follow the trajectory of his road to the Nobel Prize. He and his wife sit on a couch and discuss the circumstances around the Nobel announcement in a candid interview. I look back now and realize how fortunate we are to have Heaney on film at 50, 60, and then 70 years of age. We follow his literary and personal progression.
Even though Kinsella spent most of his working years teaching at U.S. universities, his work is sometimes hard to find here. As a leading poet and a translator of early Irish poetry, Kinsella led the generation just before Heaney. He helped to found the Dolmen Press with Liam Miller at a time when few Irish presses existed to support poets. When that press met its demise, he created his own Peppercanister Press for pamphlet publication of his own poems. For many years he lived in Philadelphia while teaching at Temple University.
Films and recordings gain importance because we are losing senior poets at an astonishing rate. I am thankful that some were caught on film, but I wish some director had filmed features on Galway Kinnell, Mark Strand, Philip Levine, Theodore Roethke, Thom Gunn, James Merrill, Daniel Hoffman, Stanley Kunitz, Adrienne Rich, Amy Clampitt, Robert Lowell, and Jack Gilbert. I would add Elizabeth Bishop to this list, but there was a 2015 feature documentary about her houses and lovers. The film travels to Canada, Brazil, and the U.S. Although interesting, the film lacked Bishop’s spirit. It felt stilted. Bishop continued to avoid labels and biographical facts, as she would have wished.
There is still world enough and time to catch Richard Wilbur, Wendell Berry (although there is a great Bill Moyers interview with Berry), Robert Pinsky, Mary Oliver, Linda Gregg, Charles Simic, and David Ferry on film. Samuel Menasche, chosen for a Neglected Masters Award from the Poetry Foundation before he died, can be found in two short films available on YouTube and Vimeo (Life Is Immense and The Concise Poet). Through her short and witty poems, it is clear that Kay Ryan must have admired this little-known poet. He didn’t teach and wasn’t published much in America. He lived a barebones existence in a New York, rent-controlled walk-up and had all of his poems memorized. The films offer domestic portraits of a private and dedicated writer. His exactitude and exuberance are contagious.
In Ireland right now I hope someone is filming Paul Muldoon, Michael Coady, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Peter Fallon, Medbh McGuckian , Paul Durcan, and Ciaran Carson. In Scotland, perhaps portraits could be filmed about Stewart Conn, Kathleen Jamie, or Douglas Dunn. In England, dispatch the video crews to Wendy Cope and Simon Armitage (alas, a bit too late for the recently deceased Geoffrey Hill). Through the years, I have corresponded with several filmmakers who say that poets, initially, are skeptical and reluctant about the prospect of a film. A larger release of quality material may change their minds.
A year before his early death (at 58) in 1999, Michael Hartnett, an emotional and troubled Irish poet, was the subject of a wonderful 40-minute film, Michael Hartnett: A Necklace of Wrens (Harvest Films). The documentary serves as a legacy to Hartnett’s rich poems. For a time, he abandoned English and wrote only in Irish as a statement against English oppression. The film returns him to the places of his upbringing and the landscapes that shaped him. His recitations and reminiscences about his Irish-speaking grandmother are riveting. Heaney and others discuss his importance to Irish letters. After a brief writing life, we are thankful to have a bit more of him in his natural surroundings.
For another recent example on Vimeo, I found a 2012 documentary about the Irish poet and novelist, Dermot Healy (The Writing in the Sky). He died in 2014. This film stands out in my mind. It is very original and very artistic. We view his breathtaking seaside home in Sligo and watch with him as geese make their yearly and noisy flight above his house. This yearly ceremony comes to represent the sense of wonder in his late work. I didn’t know this writer’s verse previously, but the portrait was filmed so passionately that I was drawn in. Since watching I have sought out many of the works mentioned, and I’m still reading them with pleasure.
A short, but comprehensive 30-minute film about the Irish poet Desmond O’Grady (who also died in 2014) was made by Adam Wyeth and Keat Walsh, A Life in a Day of Desmond O’Grady. This important poet and translator was quite a character. We follow him through the locales of his beloved Kinsale. Through his poetry alone we would not have witnessed conversations about his famous acquaintances in various countries: Picasso, Beckett, Pound, Passolini, Bacon, Burroughs, and Fellini (and O’Grady’s small role in La Dolce Vita).
From Loopline Films (http://loopline.com/patrick-kavanagh-no-mans-fool/), through the kind assistance of the director, Sé Merry Doyle, I watched a detailed and sympathetic documentary about the very survival of Patrick Kavanagh (No Man’s Fool) in a country that gave him little notice during his lifetime. A former lover speaks on film for the first time and offers new insights about the tender nature of the private man.
Two Irish naturalists, Michael Viney and David Cabot, made a quiet and beautifully reverent documentary about Michael Longley’s visits to Carrigskeewaun in County Mayo (The Corner of the Eye, Wild Goose Films, 1989). It was shown on RTE. Mr. Cabot graciously sent along a copy of the film and answered my questions. Michael Longley is a Belfast poet (and we do see him briefly in his Belfast home and neighborhood), but he fell in love with a vast, rugged, and lovely landscape in Mayo that kept him coming back year after year. He estimates that half of his poetry has been inspired by this place. He learned the names of the local birds and flowers and those details appear time and again in his poetry. Because this place is not his home or place of origin, he recognizes it as a place to encounter his deepest self and a place to pay attention to the smallest characteristics of this landscape. The place, in turn, has become his spiritual and poetic home.
Although I knew the work of the Irish poet, Derek Mahon, I was still intrigued by a 2010 film about him that a friend shared (Derek Mahon: The Poetry Nonsense). Filmed in four locales that Mahon called home, the documentary sheds light on a fairly reclusive author. I have seen Mahon read at a local college, but he does not court the limelight. This film gives a clearer view of his life and aesthetic, another reason to value such films. The reader can understand his sense of displacement, identity, and loss and approach the poems on the page with new insight. The intellect behind the poems is staggering. I had thought his verse was cold in some parts, but this film returned me to his work afresh. Now I hear the voice of a complex man and poet. Biographical criticism alone would not allow these visceral revelations.
So America has some catching up to do. How many important poets have died who would have made fine subjects for short films? As a young writer and before the expansion of the internet, I ordered several VHS tapes from The Lannan Foundation, including interviews with and readings by Philip Levine, Jack Gilbert, Richard Wilbur, and Hayden Carruth. These may be the only filmed glimpses we have of some of these poets. Many are online now. And in 2009 the American Academy of Poets did a wonderful DVD, The Poet’s View, profiling John Ashbery, Louise Glück, Anthony Hecht, Kay Ryan, C.K. Williams, and W.S. Merwin. The viewer can watch the poets in their homes while they casually discuss their art in short but informative segments. I hope there are plans for more.
Recently, however, I stumbled upon two films now out on DVD. Both are exceptional. The first is a film produced by Ida Does about the Saint Lucian poet, Derek Walcott (http://www.walcottfilm.com/). Walcott won the Nobel Prize in 1992 (three years before his friend, Seamus Heaney, who also appears in the film). He is now 86. He may be slower when he walks, but his speech and memory are sharp. Poetry Is an Island derives its title from a line in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech: “Poetry is an island that breaks away from the main.” Poetry and islands can seem marginal to casual observers, but they are worlds unto themselves. We watch his development as a writer, from poor island beginnings to the world stage. We tour that dilapidated childhood home and imagine the presence of the young Walcott in every room. A wonderful story stands out about how his mother paid for his first book of poems. What a miracle that she gathered the money at all. He never looked back. He had to write.
We learn how the very rhythm of the sea and island life helped create his temperament and the rhythmic components of his sophisticated and memorable verse. Creation and island life are his private joys. Walcott is blunt and often emotional in the interviews. He is an old man compelled to speak the truth while he still has time. He offers memorable recollections about his childhood, deceased friends, colonialism, and an ever-changing ecology on the island. The natural beauty of the Saint Lucia that Walcott remembers is now threatened by resort developers. We see how he uses his celebrity to voice his opinions about these dangers. He doesn’t want the past forgotten or the landscape that shaped his mind destroyed. We are brought into the vivid tropical world of the island and get a complete portrait of the still-working artist.
In fact, Walcott is a formidable painter and playwright as well. We see him in his studio. We watch his interactions with local actors during a play rehearsal. We attend a party at his house and can be a fly on the wall when Seamus Heaney flies in for an emotional (and, it turns out, final) visit. One of the most moving participants is Walcott’s childhood friend, who also passed away just after the filming. Walcott’s wife and son supply striking commentary as well.
The island scenes are far from the footage we see of his Nobel Prize acceptance speech. The contrast in his personal history makes these moments more memorable. Moving from Boston to Stockholm, and then back again to his roots, the film will turn viewers back to the poetry, plays, and paintings. Since the filming, Walcott’s childhood home has been chosen for a full restoration by the government. It is clear that the screening must have encouraged local authorities to rescue that dwelling from oblivion. The educational role of these films cannot be stressed enough. Poetry can make something happen when it reaches people who are ready for its gifts. It is certain that poetry changed the lives of poets.
For a more recent example, we can turn to W.S. Merwin. In April 2016, to commemorate National Poetry Month, many PBS stations aired a documentary about Merwin, now 89 and going blind, a former Poet Laureate, two-time Pulitzer winner, and an unmatched environmentalist who lives in Maui. The original film (http://www.eventhoughthewholeworldisburning.com/), which is a bit longer, is called W.S. Merwin: Even Though the Whole World is Burning. The TV version has been shortened and renamed: W.S. Merwin: To Plant a Tree.
The film’s original title is excerpted from a Merwin poem called “Rain Light” about a powerful memory/vision of the poet’s mother. The PBS title is from a couplet in his poem “Place”: “On the last day of the world / I would want to plant a tree.” In the journey of the film, we learn how the lines of both poems inform his vision as a writer, Buddhist, and conservationist. The natural world proved a comfort to him, even during his upbringing in the industrial landscape of New Jersey. He asked about a weed growing up between the cracks of the sidewalk, and his mother informed him that the whole earth lurked under the concrete. That moment proved unforgettable in the forming of his imagination. It is fitting that in old age the poet would restore the seemingly useless 19 acres around his Hawaiian home in Maui and plant and foster one of the largest private palm forests in the world.
Merwin’s wife, Paula Schwartz, offers a description of his daily working life: how he rises in the morning and sits on their balcony overlooking the palms. He drinks tea while reading and scribbling. She never sees a poem until it is finished and placed on the table. Daily attention to craft remains vital. The rest of the day is consumed with the planting and pruning of the palm trees.
J.D. McClatchy, poet and editor of The Yale Review, and Harold Bloom, esteemed critic and scholar, offer wonderful commentary about Merwin and his literary achievements. Bloom even sheds some tears over the utter beauty of Merwin’s unadorned lines, lines that have abandoned almost all punctuation. The bare essentials of speech matter the most to Merwin.
The film describes his upbringing under a stern minister father. Hymns were the first poetry that engaged him. He studied under John Berryman and took advice from Ezra Pound about translating poems from as many languages as possible. He lived in a rural French village for a time to experience fully the cycles of the seasons. Eventually, studying with a Zen Buddhist master brought him to Maui. He decided to stay, mesmerized by the beauty of the land and the folklore of the people. A Merwin Conservancy will preserve his beloved palms long after he is gone. This film’s scope and pacing are entrancing. We feel like Merwin’s invited visitor in a magical landscape created from nothing. Merwin reminds us that we live in our memories. The present is passing us by every moment.
Although I found many films through online searches, I must thank the filmmakers and companies who provided me with DVDs. Ida Does kindly answered my questions and sent me her exquisite Walcott film. Stefan Schaefer kindly sent along his wide-reaching Merwin film right after it appeared in film festivals. David Cabot from County Mayo was kind enough to offer a copy of his film about Michael Longley. Haydn Reiss supplied me with a copy of his Robert Bly film, a film based on the journals of William Stafford called Every War Has Two Losers (with commentary by Bly, Merwin, Alice Walker, and others. Reiss sent a third film about the literary friendship between Bly and William Stafford. The two friends read in front of a small audience and walk together in the woods talking about family, nature, pacifism, and writing. Stafford reminds us that poems are gifts, small miracles that arrive out of nowhere and then demand revision and critical attention. Chris Felver was kind enough to send me his Ferlinghetti film.
In a way these films resemble travel documentaries. We visit actual localities and explore the landscapes of the poets’ imaginations. I don’t suggest that these films are fuller experiences than a reader sitting with a silent poem on a page. That encounter should come first. Think, however, of the young in classrooms. Today’s students are visually oriented, and films may be the engaging tool that can allow them to enter the rich world of poetry for the first time. Live theatre or film often help students engage with Shakespeare for the first time, giving them a way into the language. The Poetry Archive in London (http://www.poetryarchive.org/), an online site of audio clips of poets reading their own works, can bring poetry alive to students as well. I have used readings from this site in my university classrooms with great success, and I didn’t have to lug in a stack of CDs.
I have learned a lot from watching poets in these filmed moments. They remind me how powerful and singular a poetic vision can be. These poets wrote to rescue and transform their memories and their local landscapes. We see firsthand what they loved, their private worlds. I kept thinking of Keats’ term, “the holiness of the heart’s affections,” and how imagination and language distinguish us from other animals because of our affections. These poets tried to preserve an authentic life filled with artistic discovery. When poetry transforms a reader, it has already transformed the lives of the men and women who made it. It is fitting that the word “muse” derives from the Latin where it connotes carrying something in uncertainty and silence. Sacrifice and fidelity to their art helped these poets carry their gifts through uncertainty and silence. I feel I witnessed some of those journeys. Desmond O’Grady, in his feature, summed it up this way: “Live full lives. Leave some record.”
Poets and film, like poets and radio, can create a loving marriage, fulfilling our appetite for heightened language, fresh perspectives, and new environments. Maybe more of these films will make it to television and cable in the future. I hope that the Poetry Foundation or The Lannan Foundation might support some of these efforts, so that poetry fans do not have to search this hard to find such captivating films.
A Note About the Author: David Livewell grew up in Kensington and won the 2012 T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize for his book, Shackamaxon (Truman State University Press).