Monday, May 16, 2011

Poetry the Movie


Have you seen Poetry? Not the literary journal or the genre, but the movie.

When I saw it a few months ago at the lovely Avalon Theatre in Maryland, I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into. The preview and the title suggest that this Korean movie would focus on the main character’s poetry writing class and her new relationship to the world because of her attention to it. Instead, there’s a death, a grandson’s crime and Alzheimer’s to consider.

I left the movie disappointed that I hadn’t been treated to an all-poetry-fest of a movie.

But now I think differently. The movie has continued to haunt me. As Andrew O’Hehir wrote in the Salon review, “the story is about Mija, and how she confronts both this turning point in her grandson's life and her own illness (not to mention a society that prefers to sweep all such crimes and tragedies under the rug).” There was so much to the plot and its relationship to a wider world beyond the movie. 

The characters and visual attention to the surroundings, which I could focus on even while reading the subtitles, have stayed with me. I wonder about the ending and the ultimate role that poetry can play while confronting personal and public tragedy. My own writing has something to learn from this both foreign and familiar tale. 

It was a beautiful, although difficult, movie. Have you seen it? I’d love to read your thoughts about it. 

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