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James Franco is a poet, and you didn’t even know it

James Franco is not afraid to try new things, that’s for sure. The actor has published a poetry book, and it even features a poem about the late Heath Ledger.

Photo courtesy of FayesVision /

Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Pablo Neruda, Oscar Wilde, Alfred Lord Tennyson… What do all these people have in common? They all fall short of the poetic ingenuity of James Franco. Oh, you haven’t heard? James Franco is a poet now.

The actor has published a book of poetry titled Directing Herbert White: Poems, and yes, it’s as pompously veiled in irony and laced with unsubstantiated allusions as a first-year experimental student film. Filled with verses about fame and the lives of fellow stars, Franco stated at the Chicago Humanities Festival that his poetry was “trying to say something in addition to what’s on the surface.” Which is comfortingly suiting, since poetry tends to do just that.

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Franco’s highly talked about piece right now is the one titled “Ledger” (obviously devoted to the late actor Heath Ledger), which we daresay is not the most provoking piece of the written word that has come our way in recent years and does not exactly inspire much analysis. It’s basically a list of facts about Ledger crammed into a stanza:

“There had been a time
When we were up for the same roles,
10 Things I Hate about You
(Based on The Taming of the Shrew),
And The Patriot –
Funny, you were Australian and so was Mel –
You were the knight in A Knight’s Tale
Although I’m sure you wished you weren’t.”

Riveting, no? While we make fun, it should be mentioned that Franco’s poetry collection is receiving some favourable reviews and is somewhat interesting. Once you strip away the obvious pretension slathered all over the poems and forget that it was written by the Pineapple Express guy, it does raise some rather curious points and is written with adequate skill. It’s no Browning, but it’s something.

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The problem is, most people think Franco is a d-bag, which is difficult to overlook whilst flipping through his poetry book. It becomes even more difficult when he features esoteric poems undecipherable to the general public like “Ledger” and drags on about the pitfalls of fame (the most cliché topic in history, second to love).

If you’re interested in perusing Directing Herbert White: Poems, then please do so, and tell us what you thought. Right now, we’re just curious about which artistic field Franco will venture into next. Dance, perhaps?

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