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The United States of Poetry


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Product Details

  • Actors: Leonard Cohen, Allen Ginsburg, Johnny Depp
  • Directors: Mark Pellington
  • Format: Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Studio: Direct Cinema Limited
  • DVD Release Date: October 22, 2008
  • Run Time: 132 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001J207H4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #253,551 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This 2-DVD set contains all 5 episodes of the series.

PART 1: The Land and the People
Poetry in a New World! A place where our different origins and lineages mirror sensibilities and traditions to come together as a new poetry. Featured: former US Poet laureate Rita Dove, Indian cowboy poet Henry Real Bird, hiphop meets sound poet Tracie Morris, Palestinian-American poet Naomi Shihab Nye, Jeff Tagami, Nora Marks Dauenhauer, Sparrow, Everton Sylvester, Lord Buckley, and more.

PART 2: A Day in the Life
Cycle. Routine. Rhythm. From our first waking minute to setting our alarm clock for the next morning, we are waltz and stumble to the drumbeat of time in all its shapes and form. Hear the words of two Nobel Prize-winners, Derek Walcott and Czeslaw Milosz, as well as Thylias Moss, CD Wright, Dennis Cooper, Hal Sirowitz, Paul Beatty, Pedro Pietri, cheerleaders, auctioneers, and square-dance callers, among others.

PART 3: The American Dream
Can poetry be politicized? What does it mean to be a poem if it contains a political message? Has it ceased to be poetry and become propaganda? Listen to Leonard Cohen, Amiri Baraka, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Wanda Coleman, Vess Quinlin, Genny Lim, Ruth Forman, Luis Alfaro, and Jim Northrup.

PART 4: Love and Sex
What is love? An eternal question that gives vent to what is arguably the subject closest to a Poet s heart. Can love be dissected? The subject of love is uppermost in the minds of poets such as Allen Ginsberg, Nobel-Prize winner Joseph Brodsky, rockers Lou Reed, Maggie Estep and John S. Hall, Quincy Troupe, Pear Cleage, Sandra Cisneros and Miguel Algarin.

PART 5: The Word
Poems are made of words. Is ''the apple'' green? or yellow? Hanging on a tree or baked in a pie? Is it knowledge, the darling of your eye, or New York City? All the above and more. This episode features Johnny Depp reading Jack Kerouac s Mexico City Blues, American Sign Language poet Peter Cook, President Jimmy Carter talks about the Cosmos, and other poets give us their take; Michael Franti, Robert Creeley, Ai, Larry Eigner, Carla Harryman, Emily XYZ.

Review

Unabashedly celebrates the Word. These days, that's downright courageous. --New York Times

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 22, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Produced by Bob Holman from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, this video brings poetry to life in an accessible way. It is able to live up to its name by presenting self-performed works, categorized in themes, by cowboy poets, immigrant poets, urban poets, celebrity poets (Alan Ginsburg, Lou Reed, Jimmy Carter and more), published poets and even child poets. The staging of the performances is fabulous, and the poems themselves range from inspiring to funny to poignant. I especially liked Paul Beatty, Maggie Estep, Pedro Pietri and Jimmy Carter.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 21, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
This video is a collection of short films which feature poets reading their work and visual interpretation. It's well edited and at times, visually stunning. Some of the films are over-dramatic, but the readings are all superb and inspired. I recommend it highly. Lots of diversity and some very funny and touching poems of the utmost quality.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. O. Aptowicz on February 24, 2009
Format: DVD
If the only televised poetry programming you have seen has been from HBO ("Russell Simmon's Presents Def Poetry") or MTV ("Spoken Word Unplugged"), then I highly recommend the PBS series "The United States of Poetry," a fantastic series celebrating American verse which was utterly ahead of its time.

"The United States of Poetry" not only emancipates poetry from the page but frees it from the traditional performance stage. Instead taking the traditional tack of filming poets doing their thing live behind a mike, visionary director Mark Pellington provides depth and contrast with creative visuals and real & poetic landscapes, allowing each poet's work to really shine. It is wonderful to see and hear work by some of America's best known poets, including Allen Ginsburg, Rita Dove, Leonard Cohen, Derek Walcott, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Sandra Cisneros and Bob Holman, among many many others.

Organized by theme ("A Day in the Life," "Love and Sex," etc...), the series shows a compelling and diverse vision of American poetry. Even better, the poets are introduced only with their name and the poem's title -- no biography, titles or prizes spotlighted. Slam poets and Cowboy poets are introduced the same as Pulitzer Prize winners and U.S. poet laureates! It has a wonderfully empowering effect, allowing you to value each piece based on whether or not it resonates with you as opposed to the pedigree of its writer.

Even though it is over a decade old, I still return to this series again ang again. I am so thrilled that it is finally on DVD as my poor worn-out VHS was on its last legs. I hope the new format will inspire more people to check out this wonderful & inspiring series!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ida Lizabeth on August 18, 2008
Format: VHS Tape
This mezmerizing program is artfully designed in three segments around three themes--the land and the people, a day in the life, and the American dream. The poems are performed as spontaneous monologs spoken by a wide cross-section of Americans going about their daily lives in real life settings--on the street, in the home, in subways, and at work. The videography, use of light, and sound editing enhance the dramatic performances without compromising the intimacy and authenticity of the poets' voices. A wide range of poets are represented, including Joseph Brodsky, Sandra Cisneros, Leonard Cohen, Rita Dove, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac (read by Johnny Depp), Czeslaw Milosz, and Naomi Shihab Nye. The topics reflect the light and dark side of life in America from the intimately personal to the deep social issues that divide us. The program's engaging and hip style provocatively challenges us to take a closer look at the experience of living in America today. 120 minutes, in color.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By L.S.W. on March 12, 2009
Format: DVD
This DVD is not closed captioned. Also it has a poor/grainy quality to it. Unfortunately, it is not accessible for people with hearing loss (Deaf/Hard of Hearing).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gerald Baron on September 12, 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I was amazed at how the visual part of the poetry video worked so well with the poems. If you are neutral or less enthusiastic about poetry, this video will open you to the exciting world of poetry.
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