The Poetry of Everyday Life: Paterson, Padgett, and Williams
Mondays, November 5-December 10, 2018 (six sessions)
Guide: John Brehm, Tuition: $220
Jim Jarmusch’s 2016 film Paterson proceeds from an unlikely and extremely undramatic premise: that the daily routine of a good-natured, poetry-writing bus driver in Paterson, New Jersey, will engage an audience’s attention for two full hours. But the film succeeds brilliantly precisely by subverting the conventions of Hollywood filmmaking and our expectations for sex and violence, intrigue and deception, and for all kinds of bad behavior typically associated with poets. The film gives us something else instead: the ordinary magic of daily life. In this way, Paterson embodies the aesthetics of William Carlos Williams, who wrote an epic poem about the city, and the New York School poet Ron Padgett, who wrote the poems that appear in the film. In this Delve seminar we’ll look closely at the film as well as the poetry of both Williams and Padgett to discover how they find such enchantment in such commonplace materials.
Reading List: Williams Carlos Williams, Selected Poems (Charles Tomlinson, ed); Ron Padgett, How Long and How to Be Perfect
John Brehm is the author of two books of poems, Help Is On the Way and Sea of Faith, both from the University of Wisconsin Press, the associate editor of The Oxford Book of American Poetry, and the editor of The Poetry of Impermanence, Mindfulness, and Joy. A two-time Oregon Literary Fellowship recipient, he has an MFA from Cornell University and has taught at Cornell, Emerson College, and Portland State University.