~ William Carlos Williams ~

Paterson: the movie

I’ve always liked William Carlos Williams’ book-length poem Paterson, so I was intrigued to see this trailer for a feature film inspired by it. It’s not, however, based on Williams’ poem in any sense, as the director explains in an interview with Time magazine:

In Jim Jarmusch’s thirteenth feature, Paterson, Adam Driver plays a bus driver named Paterson who also happens to live and work in Paterson N.J. And like an earlier Paterson resident, physician-poet William Carlos Williams, he writes poetry in his spare time. During coffee and lunch breaks, and in the moments before he begins his route, Paterson writes poems inspired by everyday things. For example, a box of Ohio Blue Tip matches sparks a meditation on the pure, quiet love he feels for his wife, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), a charming, stay-at-home DIY dynamo.

Jarmusch, too, loves poetry. He’s a fan, in particular, of Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery, members of what’s commonly known as the New York School of poets. (The poems in Paterson, in fact, were written by New York School poet Ron Padgett.) Jarmusch has drawn on that love, and more, to make a picture that shows how art—maybe even especially art made in the margins—can fill up everyday life. Here, Jarmusch explains how Paterson came to be, describes his admiration for the work actors do, and offers a mini reading list for anyone out there who may be a poetry lover, but just doesn’t know it yet.

TIME: I understand that you came up with the basic treatment for Paterson a long time ago. Did you set out to make a film specifically about poets and poetry?

Jim Jarmusch: I went on a day trip to Paterson 20, 25 years ago. I was drawn there by William Carlos Williams, a doctor and a poet whose work I liked. I went to the falls there, and I walked around and saw the industrial parts of it. It’s a fascinating place: It was like Alexander Hamilton’s vision of a new industrial city, based around the power from the waterfall, kind of an intended utopian city. And it’s incredibly varied in terms of its demographics, the variety of people there.

[William Carlos Williams’] book Paterson, by the way, is not one of my favorite poems—in fact, it goes over my head, I don’t understand a lot of it. But at the beginning of it, a man is a metaphor for the city of Paterson, and vice-versa. And I thought that’s just a beautiful idea. I thought I’d like to write a little treatment about a poet, a working-class guy in Paterson who’s actually a very good poet but not a known one. So I had that little one-page treatment in a drawer for years. I kept remembering it, but I never really got to it until now.

Read the rest.

The Art of Poetry Film with Cheryl Gross: “A Nose That Can See Is Worth Two That Sniff”

A Nose That Can See Is Worth Two That Sniff
poem: William Carlos Williams
animation: Isaac Holland
narration: William Carlos Williams
sound and music: Skillbard
Part 4 of Poetry of Perception, an eight-part series featuring representations of perception and sensation
produced by Nadja Oertelt

It’s great to see The Fundamentals of Neuroscience embrace video poetry. Any organization that uses an art form such as this is in my opinion groundbreaking. The main reason why I even mention it is because by doing so it increases our audience.

A Nose That Can See Is Worth Two That Sniff is one in a series of animations illustrating their online course at Harvard University. Another fun one to watch, although not a video poem, is Perception Is In The Eye Of The Beholder:


Makes me want to enroll in the course.

Now getting back to A Nose That Can See Is Worth Two That Sniff: The work is incredibly charming. Beginning with the visual (my favorite place to start), the colors are somewhat subdued. This allows the viewer to glide through the poem without distraction. The illustrations are made up of flat vector computer-generated shapes. The old scratchy film effect combined with vector imagery makes it even more interesting. It’s a great blend and adds to the atmosphere of the piece. The outcome is not only successful, but bears the imprint of the artist’s unique style. I love the use of type, and the movement is terrific.

There is an echo in the voice. My guess is that it was recorded on computer or using a small microphone. It’s the poet’s own voice, which is a nice, simple touch. Perhaps the sound is deliberately distressed to match the visuals.

All in all, A Nose That Can See is Worth Two That Sniff is well worth checking out.