Now that the NCAA basketball tournament is over and my alma mater lost to the little team that could, I can turn my mind to loftier celebrations – like the fact that April is National Poetry Month. This naturally lead a movie buff like me to think about movies that I have enjoyed over the years that have featured poetry in some way.
Don’t worry, I am going to skip right over those self-important, depressing movies about angst-ridden poets like “Sylvia” or “Tom and Viv.” Instead, I have come up with an eclectic list that includes something for everyone.
If you have any suggestions to add to my list, let me know in the comment box below.
Slam Nation : There are several pretty good DVDs out there that feature slam or performance poetry – “Poetry in Motion,” “Russell Simmon’s Def Poetry Jam” – but I am picking this documentary about a national poetry slam event because it breaks up the poetry with backstage drama and features my favorite performance poet – a voice no one should miss- Taylor Mali.
Bright Star: I recently mentioned this movie as my DVD pick for the week but it can’t hurt to mention this biopic about poet John Keats again. Honestly, even if you hate poetry or Keats bores you, at least watch it for the scene with the butterflies alone. You’ll be glad you did.
Dead Poets Society: A classic 80s movie that, of course, could not be left off this particular list. Robin Williams forever made poetry cool in his portrait of an irreverent teacher at a private school who inspires his students to love poetry and love life.
Reading Rainbow: My America, A Poetry Atlas of the U.S. : If you are looking for something family-friendly but is still not a snoozefest for the kids, this is a fun, fast look at some of the great poets of American culture.
Belle of Amherst: Until Hollywood finally gets around to making a decent movie about one of the greatest poets in American history, Emily Dickinson, this DVD of Julie Harris’s award-winning portrayal of Emily will have to do.
Il Postino: This is one of my all time favorite love stories, and it certainly must be the best movie featuring poetry. The story revolves around a poor man’s attempt to woo a woman who is out of his league with the help of a reclusive poet.