We were lucky to have Gregory Robinson come to Phoenix with his brand new book All Movies Love The Moon. I remember seeing Rose Metal Press mentioned on some writer's list of presses that put together beautiful books and now I can see why:
I always intend to lavish a little Goodreads attention on some of the poetry books that make me happy, but I rarely follow through. So here is my latest attempt:
This book is as beautiful from the inside as it is from the cover. Conveniently condensing the entire Era of silent film into a wonderful collection of prose poems that accompany sample images of title cards. Robinson knows when to stick close enough to the subject to share his expertise, like with the infamous 1902 classic A Trip To The Moon:
"poof! Obliterated. A ball of smoke. The same cloud hovered over Star Film Studios when Melies, watching his fortunes fall, set every reel, every mask, every prop ablaze."
and when to depart and splice in tangential memories from his own private reels or pop culture references to Jennifer Love Hewitt TV shows or iPhone apps in order to help illuminate the flickering ideas, like in Hell ' Angels (1916):
"Satan is not all evil, just more of a jerk, always posting pictures with ironic captions on Hell ' Facebook."
In the end, this book is Robinson's eulogy for the Silents and he mourns them with the same selective reverence of any passed loved one:
"no use dying if you cannot be remembered as someone else, someone better."
There aren't a whole lot of these poems available online, so I asked Rose Metal Press if I could post a couple that might make everyone order this book immediately. Here are two of my favorites:
UNDERWORLD (1927)There is an esthetics to trespassing, a beauty in being where you should not.Not old enough to know any better, I waded through a pool of boards and rusty nails to sneak into an abandoned hospital with narrow halls and holes in the floors. There were signs of recent life in the rooms--bedrolls and old magazines. Glass broke on the floor below and my flashlight flickered and died. Fumbling for a dim light of a window, the sound of glass settling turned to voices.Outside, a great city in the dead of night: streets lonely, moon-flooded. The bar was called Sneakers. After four a.m., it is a perfect void, filled with empty booths and denizens that turn the world into a film noir. Drink and smoke deliberately--the end of hope greeted with alacrity.Easy, here, to get used to staring forward. There is a cemetery outside of town, unofficial and unmarked. People bury their pets there, fencing off tiny plots, visiting and bringing bones to set on their graves. If you are worthy, a white cat will follow you around. Her way of saying You shouldn't be here, but I am glad nevertheless.
DIARY OF A LOST GIRL (1929)Day OneGave up baby fathered by creepy German guy with huge hands and serial-killer smile. He is not what you call the marrying type.Day TwoDad has knocked up the housekeeper again. Her name is Meta, as if she is a housekeeper that comments on housekeepers. Made many friends after arrest and internment at all-girl reform school. Hello mother hello father greetings from camp getmethehelloutofhere.Day ThreeEscaped male porn fantasy of all-girl reform school. Another creepy guy: Yes Thymian, you're a lost girl now. Moved in with prostitutes, but fairly convinced I am not a prostitute and unsure of what prostitute position entails. May involve dancing or exercise.Day FourAdopted into high society, bonnets and furs. Reasons for adoption are unclear, but involve another man with questionable intentions. Unfortunately, baby dead and dirtbag father continues to live happy, unrepentant life.Not to self: Rethink policy on male friends, and men in general.
I also love how title card images are included throughout the book. It's an intriguing aspect that ties everything together. I never fully appreciated this literary aspect of silent films and the best writers brought a haiku-like element to these cards.
Gregory Robinson is also an engaging reader and a delightful person, so we enjoyed having him stick around to chat and sign books for a little while at our Caffeine Corridor Poetry Series.
I hope some of you get your hands on a copy and let me know what you think.
This blog will fade out to his book trailer: