Essays on Poetry & Film 



Poetry in Movies: A Partial List
A catalog of references to recognizable, often canonical, poems, or excerpts from poems, in mainly American and British films.


Poem as Screenplay: Six Video Collaborations
A collection of poems that have been adapted into short films, including work by Rita Dove, Allen Ginsberg, Mark Strand, and more


The Well-Versed Movie
by Stacey Harwood
An essay and virtual anthology of "movie moments" in which poetry takes the lead.

 "Cracking the Shell of the World"
by Robert Polito
A discussion of cinematic influences in poetry—from D. W. Griffith to Frank Bidart.


Poet Biopics 


Bright Star
"A portrait of love and loss, Jane Campion's film Bright Star chronicles the tragic love affair between John Keats and his neighbor, Fanny Brawne."


"The tempestuous relationship between Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes is given center stage in this 2003 biopic."


"Tells the life story of the poet-playwright-actor Miguel Piñero, played by Benjamin Bratt."


Tom & Viv
"Recounts the volatile marriage of poet T.S. Eliot and the British aristocrat Vivienne Haigh-Wood."


HOWL: The Movie
"The movie is composed of three interweaving sections: an interview with the poet, his famous Six Gallery reading, and the landmark obscenity trial—depicting a Ginsberg both personable and larger than life."


A Room and a Half
"Veteran filmmaker Andrey Khrzhanovsky's feature debut, A Room and a Half, chronicles the life of Russian poet Joseph Brodsky."


Before Night Falls
"Directed by well-known visual artist Julian Schnabel, this film inventively portrays the life of Cuban poet, playwright, and prose writer Reinaldo Arenas."


The Basketball Diaries
"Based on the autobiographical book by poet and performance-artist Jim Carroll, a story of youth spent skipping class, running around with friends, and abusing drugs."


Total Eclipse
"Depicts the turbulent and absinthe-soaked relationship between the poets Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud."


Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle
"Sly, sharp and witty, Dorothy Parker and colorful characters of the Algonquin Round Table are the subject of this acclaimed film directed by Alan Rudolph."


Shakespeare in Love
"A tongue-in-cheek romantic comedy about the young playwright and his struggle with writer's block."

Poetry on Television & Radio 


Fooling with Words with Bill Moyers
"Beloved journalist Bill Moyers trains his inquisitive eye on poetry in this series of documentary programs produced for public television."


The Simpsons
"One of television’s longest-running series is also one of its most literate and hilarious."


Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac
"Keillor, best known as the host of A Prairie Home Companion, hosts a daily feature on public radio stations around the country called The Writer’s Almanac."

Poetry Videos & Adaptations 


"The United States of Poetry"
"Originally aired in 1996 as a five part series on PBS, The United States of Poetry is an excellent presentation of twentieth century poetry."


Dr. Seuss Cartoons
"Seuss's clever use rhyme, humor, and colorful illustrations continue to entertain and educate readers, young and old alike."

Films Featuring Poetry 


Dead Poets Society
"Robin Williams plays the school's new English teacher and Welton alumnus, John Keating, who inspires his students to love poetry."


Henry Fool
"This brilliant and odd film traces the story of Henry Fool, an aspiring writer and ex-convict, and a sanitation worker whom Fool encourages to take up a pen."


Il Postino
"Portrays the story of a shy postman who develops a transformative friendship with the exiled Chilean poet Pablo Neruda."


Poetic Justice
"Set in South Central Los Angeles in the early 1990s, Poetic Justice stars Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur."


Big Bad Love
"Anyone who has ever received a rejection letter from a publisher can identify with Leon Barlow, the main character."


Four Weddings and a Funeral
"The recitation of "Funeral Blues" by W.H. Auden is one of the film's most memorable moments."


"Ray Joshua is the local bard of his housing project. When he is arrested on trumped-up drug charges and sent to prison to await trail, poetry is his only means of survival."



The Poet's View
"A film series written and directed by Mel Stuart and produced by the Academy of American Poets, featuring John Ashbery, W. S. Merwin, Louise Glück, Anthony Hecht, and C.K. Williams.


Bukowski: Born into This
"The film combines television interviews with recollections by former drinking buddies, teenage friends, fellow postal workers, writers, girlfriends, and his second wife."


Frank Bidart, The Maker
"Filmmaker Jay Anania crafts an intimate portrait of Bidart's life and work, including readings and discussion of poems."


Lannan Foundation Video Series
"Many of the country's most esteemed contemporary poets have been documented in this exhaustive series."


"Chronicles the competitors from the 1996 National Poetry Slam in Portland. The documentary weaves together interviews, readings, home videos, and excerpts from competition events."


Donald Hall and Jane Kenyon: A Life Together
"In this Emmy Award-winning documentary, Bill Moyers visits one of poetry’s most famous couples."


Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry
"Def Poetry continues to present both established and emerging spoken word poets to a wide television audience."


The Source
"A compelling film about the writers and personalities of the Beat Generation, it is both a documentary and a dramatization."


Something Wonderful May Happen
"Filmed in 2001, this Danish documentary is a rare effort to document on film the history of the New York School of poets."


Voices & Visions
"Explores—through interviews, archival footage, and readings—the lives and works of some of America’s greatest poets."