Poetry in film – a quick update

I finally caught up with watching O Brother, Where Art Thou and loved it. I was blessed that a friend volunteered to watch it with me. She cooked chicken, I bought salad. (It is generally understood and accepted that if I’m bringing something for the table I’ll be picking it up on the way.) Sharing the viewing wasn’t something I had planned when I thought of this project.

With all the other reading I’ve had on the go lately, I hadn’t had time to review The Odyssey in the detail I would have liked. Instead, I resorted to rustling up some quick searches on my tablet as the DVD played. I figure that since I went through a phase of watching the movie a lot a few years ago (scenes and dialogue memorised, etc.) I wasn’t interfering with the viewing process.

Not too much, anyway.

On balance

I decided I really do like the looseness of the Coen brothers’ approach to the story. I’d also like to look at more interpretations and spin offs, but I know I just don’t have time. Perhaps when I’m next looking for a side-project it could just be about incarnations of epic poetry in popular culture.

The possibility of it feels so deliciously nerdy.

I can see my reading/viewing list already. I think it will begin with Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad (Canongate Myth Series, 2005).* The first film is likely to be 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968) – because I can’t remember when I last watched it. Certainly not in living memory.


I’ve also been thinking there might be a couple of poems of my own that I’d like to work on. (To be clear, I have NO plans to attempt epic poetry any time soon!) Not that I need to add anything more to the to-be-written list. That seems to have been exploding in the past little while. On the upside, I’ve managed to move some titles from the to-be-written to the that’ll-do-for-now side of the ledger.

Getting things written is always lovely.  I don’t mean that as a euphemism. I literally mean that I find finishing a piece of writing to be one of life’s pleasures. It is lovely.

In the meantime, there is a short story that I’ve been meaning to read again – ‘The Owl Boy and the Goddess Athene’ by Gillian Rubinstein. You’ll find it in Bizarre: Ten wonderfully weird stories, compiled by Penny Matthews (Omnibus Books, 1989). I used to love reading it to Year 8s. Such fun!

Reading wakes me up, so now – it’s gone midnight – isn’t my best time to open the book. I think it’ll be a goer for when the alarm goes off in the morning. So long as I get to sleep soon(ish).

Before I go

Next up on the poetry-in-film plan is

  • March Jabberwocky (Terry Gilliam, 1977)
  • April The Raven (I’m not sure which version … Charles Brabin, 1915; Louis Friedlander, 1935; Roger Corman, 1963; James McTeigue, 2012)

I think we can safely say, March is going to look a lot like April by the time I sit down to Jabberwocky and I still need to work out which version of The Raven … I’m a shade torn.

Twists on myth quick reads
A couple of quick reads for the meantime


*Jeanette Winterson’s Weight is a part of the Canongate Myth Series. I love it. I cry every time I read it – and I seem to read it every year or so.






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