Films featuring poems and the poets who wrote them

Paterson (2016)

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

Poetically enough, repetition surges through this teeming city of poets, from the word heard by Method Man in the laundromat to a bench shared with an Osaka poet, who “breathes[s] poetry.” Shortly after discussing two dream kids, Paterson spots twins in matching plaid jackets walking around work as the opening lines of “Love Poem” roll in. “We have a lot of matches in our house,” repeats Paterson.

Based in Paterson, New Jersey, Paterson is an “Emily Dickinson-loving bus driver”, as a young poet and twin later observes. In this cherished scene, Paterson stumbles upon the long-haired poet, amid the factories, working on a “secret notebook.” The fiery writer shares “Water Falls,” which begins with “Water falls from bright air.” The last line – “Most people call it rain.” – stuns me. So different from previous language: puddles described as “dirty mirrors with clouds and buildings inside”.

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

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