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Excuse me, Aha! Why we should all take Paterson's Poetic Journey

Jim Jarmusch’s film Paterson takes the viewer on a week long journey through all the minute details of poetizing, of engaging in the process of writing and expressing poetically. Every day has its poem, which spills into the next day and so strings together the richly simple living of Paterson the protagonist. There are layers and allusions within and throughout the film, but those are for a second viewing. To take in Paterson that first time is to be confronted with several hard questions about creating, and about identifying as a creator of poetry, and maybe of art as a whole. Who do poems belong to? once they're written, what to do with a poem? To what extent are you what you create or the fact that you create? Should we tally your works or understand your inspiration, approach and motivation? Paterson shows us the poem in process, on the screen in voice over, Paterson's (Adam Driver's) actual handwriting arranging itself across the screen and performing that daily poem. The voice over works as a kind of "press play" on poem mode -- and in a conversation Paterson has with a Japanese traveler to this Town of Poetry we see the traveler depart with "excuse me, Aha!" and in that moment Paterson presses play and answers some of those questions.


--by Edward Gonzalez

  • With the exception of a William Carlos Williams poem and one written by Jim Jarmusch himself, all poems are from poet Ron Padgett.

  • Live the poems for yourself by watching this playlist and then get your notebook and write your poem for the day. You can also read the poems from the film here, but beware of spoilers.

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