Family Movie Night


by Karyn Bowman


Blame it on Shakespeare that April is National Poetry Month, if you must.


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The greatest writer, ever, was born on April 23rd and for that we must remember poetry in our life during the month of April.


I know some of you might be wondering what’s the use of poetry. Most poets starve unless they can find work as college professors or Hallmark card writers.


Let me argue that poetry is like flowers, adding something to our daily lives that we didn’t even know was missing.


As an English major, I’ve read many poems. I was never able to memorize poems but a few stay in my head thanks to little musical tricks.


“Never a lender or a borrower be,

And Don’t Forget,

Stay out of Debt.”


That bit of advice comes from Polonius to Laertes in Hamlet, although I am sure no one sings it on-screen to the classical tune I do so I can remember it. There are many screen versions of Hamlet. Some may prefer the Mel Gibson version from 1990 or Lawrence Oliver’s of 1948. Kenneth Branagh did his in 1996. Then there is the irreverent adult comedy of Hamlet 2 starring Steve Coogan and Catherine Keener.


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My second oldest reports reading Romeo and Juliet in class right now. He is having a difficult time because the language is stiff, stilted. I understand how he feels because the language can be tough. As a senior in high school, we read John Keats’ The Eve of St. Agnes in class. Our teacher could not believe how dully one of us read the section in which our heroine undresses. It came out like a laundry list of things to be done, not the disrobement that it is.


I would have my son watch the much maligned Shakespeare In Love because of how the movie displays the power of those words when they are spoken. They are not stilted but passionate language telling the story of forbidden love and heated family rivalry. Perhaps, I should get the Leonardo Di Caprio version which has a more musical flair to it.


There is one poem I love more than any other, written by e.e. cummings. This poet was known for ignoring capitalization and various other rules of poetical form. Surprising enough, at the time of his death in 1962, cummings was the second most read poet in our country. Robert Frost was the most read at that time.


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someplace i have never traveled, gladly beyond was featured in the Woody Allen movie Hannah and Her Sisters. It is used to woo a woman by her brother-in-law and when you read the poem, it is easy to see how these words can do so. The writer talks of a love that can bring him out or shut him off from the world. He talks of a love that thrills him with its beauty and the sense of the unknown in the person he loves.


Listening to Michael Caine read these words remind me that beauty surrounds us in the everyday and finding it takes only a little effort.

Is there a poem that you remember beyond any others?

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.