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Movies Starring Poems And The Poets Who Penned Them


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movie poster of Paterson (2016)movie poster of Paterson (2016)

Paterson (2016)

Directed by Jim Jarmusch, Paterson begins after 6:00 on a Monday morning. Between sleep, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) tells Paterson (Adam Driver), “I had a beautiful dream.” Immediately, I’m smitten. Laura divulges dream details — a sweet routine of the baker, painter, and aspiring country singer — about their “little” twins.

Quite poetically, repetition arises across this town teeming with poets, from overheard spoken word by Method Man in the laundromat to a bench shared with a poet from Osaka, who “breathe[s] poetry.” Soon after discussing two dream children, Paterson spots twins in matching plaid jackets while strolling to work as the first lines of “Love Poem” arrive. “We have plenty of matches in our house,” Paterson repeats.

Based in Paterson, New Jersey, Paterson is a “bus driver that likes Emily Dickinson,” as a young poet, and twin, later observes. In this darling scene, Paterson happens upon the long-haired poet, amid factories, toiling over a “secret notebook.” The spirited writer shares “Water Falls,” which starts, “Water falls from the bright air.” The final line — “Most people call it rain.” — stuns me. So different from the prior language: puddles described as “dirty mirrors with clouds and buildings inside.”

For the 2016 film, Jarmusch wrote “Water Falls,” and Ron Padgett, the titular poet’s work. Dot, Padgett’s forthcoming collection from Coffee House Press (November 2022), “shows how any experience, no matter how mundane, can lead to a poem that flares like gentle fireworks.”

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