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James Franco Waxes Poetic About Heath Ledger

James Franco Waxes Poetic About Heath Ledger

James Franco, the bard? The 127 Hours star, known for dabbling in art, short-story writing, and multiple graduate programs, published his first poetry collection in the spring, Directing Herbert White. According to critics, you may want to hold those literary prizes.

Some of his poems focus on fellow celebrities, including Lindsay Lohan and River Phoenix. But it’s an ode to the late Heath Ledger that’s received the most attention — and mockery — on the web. The poem describes Franco's relationship to The Dark Knight star:

"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.”

Gawker joked that the poem reads as “a loosely rhyming retelling of Heath Ledger’s IMDB page.” The Telegraph was also unimpressed: ”North Korea recently condemned the actor James Franco’s upcoming film, The Interview, as ‘an act of terrorism and war.’ Let’s hope they don’t find out about his poems.”

Franco has weathered bad reviews before. His recent photography show led New York Times art critic Roberta Smith to dismiss him as “embarrassingly clueless when it comes to art.” But as ETonline pointed out, the actor could be in on the joke since he likes to play with his public persona. As for Franco himself, he told a crowd at the Chicago Humanities Festival earlier this year that his poems are “trying to say something in addition to what they’re saying on the surface.”

The actor does have at least one fan: poet Frank Bidart. “There’s never been a book quite like this,” Bidart wrote for the collection’s promotional materials. “Hollywood — fame, celebrity, the promise of becoming an artist — is the beast at its center. Franco knows it like Melville knows whaling.”

Photo credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images