Marie Claire. But is it any good?Q: Kristen Stewart has published her first poem in
A: Put it this way: Of the experts we interviewed, few offered solidly rave reviews. Stewart's poem, "My Heart Is a Wiffle Ball/Freedom Pole," brims with sometimes intriguing but often tortured language. Lines like "Something Whilst the crackling stare down sun snuck" is kind of a mouthful. And while "I'll suck the bones pretty" is, well, kind of pretty, "Kismetly … ubiquitously crest fallen" didn't really impress anybody.
Then again, we're talking Kristen Stewart here. She's an actor, not a professional poet. At least, not yet. And most critics don't like to tear apart the work of amateur, even a famous one.
"It's a lot of ammunition, to bring professional critiques to bear on Kristen Stewart's poetry," David Orr, poetry columnist for the New York Times Book Review, points out. "The kind of thing that people write in journals across America every day.
"I've seen worse poetry, worse writing. It's not like she doesn't have any linguistic flair. She's writing in a journal, and it' pretty clear that's what she's doing. This is free verse with some occasional, possibly inadvertent rhyming ... I would guess she's got a copy of Sylvia Plath's poetry somewhere. A lot of people do."'
In case you're wondering, "Wiffle Ball" does fall into a specific poetic category: free verse. And other writers I interviewed were more impressed.
"Her style is definitely abstract, but strangely compelling," says Sarah Marchant, poetry reader for the Winter Tangerine Review and a published verse artist in her own right.
"The use of language is crisp and even hypnotizing in places," she says. "Overall, I would say she writes with a very mature, though fairly unpolished, voice. Some portions of the poem are awkwardly worded, which may very well be intentional and may be a product of her writing methodology."
Indeed: Phrases like "Your nature perforated the abrasive organ pumps" do seem to be awkward and kind of compelling at the same time. Here's another piece:
And I bellowed and you parked
We reached Marfa.
One honest day up on this freedom pole
Devils not done digging
He's speaking in tongues all along the pan handle
Crisp and hypnotizing? Maybe. Or maybe it's all just … meh.
"Emily Dickinson once said, '"If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry,'" Villanova University assistant professor of English Kamran Javadizadeh tells me. "By that measure, I'm not sure 'My Heart Is a Wiffle Ball/Freedom Pole' quite makes the cut.
"Take a line like 'Your nature perforated the abrasive organ pumps.' The best metaphors shock us because they show us something strange about what had seemed familiar. In order for that to work, though, readers need some kind of initial foothold, some place to begin. And I'm not finding that foothold here."
Maybe she could use a little coaching from James Franco?
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Leslie Gornstein is an entertainment writer and the host of the weekly Hollywood gossip podcast The Fame Fatale.