In the old days, actors longed to direct, a horrible cliché that polluted our cultural palates for decades. Well, I’d gladly welcome that trend back in a second instead of the more current phenom: celebs wanting to write! Having to act out other people’s scripts apparently isn’t good enough for these icons, so they strive to create their own words, pouring all their most florid feelings and obscure references into verbiage that’s alternately impenetrable and silly.
Kristen Stewart is the latest thesp to jump on this (per-) verse bandwagon, having submitted a poem to Marie Claire, which she wrote about a year ago and which reads like the workings of someone with a kaput franchise and relationship. Here’s a sample:
“My Heart Is a Wiffle Ball/Freedom Pole”
I reared digital moonlight
You read its clock, scrawled neon against that black
Kismetly … ubiquitously crest fallen
Thrown down to strafe your foothills
…I’ll suck the bones pretty
The rest of the poem goes on to invoke expressions like “abrasive organ pumps” and “pining erosion,” whilst reading like the inner workings of the pretty girl in high school who desperately wanted to prove she was more than a cheerleader captain. (I can’t believe I just used “whilst.” Where did I get THAT from? Oh, yeah! It’s in Kristen’s poem! Ugh.) The diffuseness of Kristen’s ideas is clear starting with the title, in which she can’t even decide if her heart is a wiffle ball or a freedom pole. Pick one! And do it kismetly, if you please — whilst kindly rethinking the whole thing and going back to acting.
Fortunately for Kristen, she’s far from alone in her literary aspirations. She joins an illustrious list of stars who’ve dared to poeticize and somehow survived (though they probably had to avoid being seen in public for a few months after the work was leaked). Having read some celebrity poetry highlights to a cabaret crowd not long ago and clearing the room with it, I know more than I ever bargained for on this topic. For example, in 2012, Beyoncé offered a succinct yet succulent poem for gay hip-hop star Frank Ocean:
“Be fearless/be honest/be generous/be brave/be poetic/be open/be free/be yourself/be in love/be happy/be inspiration.”
Once again, that was by be-yonce. And perhaps she should be-quiet.
At least Charlie Sheen’s immortal poem about interspecies doings is supposed to be ridiculous:
“There’s a goat in my ass,
Living mainly on grass.
They say the creature was stolen,
Yet he feeds on my colon.”
Who knew Charlie was the Dr. Seuss of the dirty crowd?
Leonard Nimoy — aka “Star Trek”’s original Dr. Spock — also doesn’t have an ear (nyuck nyuck) for good writing. He once wrote a poem that went:
“You fill me with your love
You fill me with your caring
You fill me with your thoughts
You fill me with your sharing”
Eek. Corny stuff. Dr. Spock should not be causing sugar shock. That poem is not even good enough to be beamed up to Hallmark headquarters.
But Oscar-nominated Viggo Mortensen is quite the Renaissance man, it turns out. The comely, brooding actor has done books containing paintings, photos and poetry, holding a penetrating mirror to our soul, though he might just be better off standing there and looking good. Kidding. I welcome creative stretching. Even this: “Are we ruined for
finding our faces fit
and want to know more
about morning? Is
if we can’t call
each other anymore
in amnesia, invite
ourselves to last glances
under suspicious clocks
telling us when we’ve
To which I can only respond: “I have no freakin’ idea, Viggo!”
Alicia Keys apparently needs some keys because in 2004, she took to poetry to express the cagey way her life in the spotlight has turned out. To wit:
“Right now I feel like a bird,
Caged without a key
Everyone comes to stare at me
So much joy and revelry
They don’t know how I feel inside
Through my smile I cry
They don’t know what I’m doing to me
Keeping me from flying.”
Ah, the heartbreak of being an international superstar. But one good thing about writing celebrity poetry is that it knocks you down a notch, career-wise, and people stare a lot less.
Even Britney Spears waxed poetic once. No, I’m not referring to her immortal songs like “I’m a Slave 4 U” or “If U Seek Amy.” She didn’t even write those! But she was inspired to put pen to (divorce) paper and wax profound about her ex, K-Fed:
“The guilt you fed me
Made me weak
The voodoo you did
I couldn’t speak
The phone is ringing
Resurrection of my soul
The fear I’m bringing.”
I can’t go on even recreating this thing, so let me just jump to the end: “Damn, it’s good to be me!” It sure is. In fact, I hear that whenever Britney performs this poem in public, she only has to lipsynch it.
There have also been poems by Suzanne Somers (“I wore my green sweater today and smiled…), Rosie O’Donnell (topics have ranged from “Cagney & Lacey” to her heart attack), Russell Crowe (“I am celebrating my love for you with a pint of beer and a new tattoo”), and so many more. So I guess this trend is nothing new after all. Just as long as they’ve wanted to direct, celebs have longed to express themselves in free-form fanciness that’s more Shakes the Clown than Shakespeare. I’m ubiquitously crestfallen over it, but I’m not going to strafe their foothills over it. I’ve got better things to do — like painting!