Message board no longer active
This forum is no longer active. Please visit for her new forum.
All Forums / Poetry / Politics / Music / Film-making / Religion / Other topics / Write a Review /
Forums  >  Poetry  >  Using the old to create the new
Author Post
at 22:59, 24 Feb 2006
Posts: 1
Using the old to create the new
Ms. Potter,

I sat down this evening and watched YES for the first time and I must say YES! You are a god send in this now the 21 century and I Thank you, thank you, thank you. My gratitude works on a few levels, please let me explain.

I have studied poetry from Milton through Yeats for almost a decade now, I have written on the subject, defended formal verse's integrity, and worked with contemporary poets, such as Robert Pinsky, whom I questioned on the harm free verse has in the preservation of poetics. And your film, on this cold February night, game me hope. Your use of form, might I compare it to Robert Browning’s dramatic monologues in that the verse, was crafted magnificently, and was noticeable only when necessary, job well done.

Currently I have moved away from literary criticism and am writing and directing films myself, and this film stands, for me, as a testament to the inventive possibilities of art. You have done something here, that is breath taking, pardon my redundancy, but I am truly blown away.

Two questions I have about the film are: What influence, if any, did James Joyce have on the screenplay? It seemed to me that the aunt of "She", in her death bed soliloquy, and Irish accent, rambled in a stream of conscious much like Joyce's characters. I am familiar with your familiarity of V. Wolfe's works, but being that the film ends with Yes, along with being is called YES, and Molly Bloom's soliloquy ends with "Yes, Yes I said Yes I will Yes" One can not but draw a comparison. And secondly: Who did you read to prep for an entire film of Iambic pentameter couplets?

With that asked; I thank you for the film, and it will remain a film I go back to, time and again. Your inventiveness with regard to all that film’s elements make this a film, as a student and new film maker, that of a true learning experience. Thank you.

Philip Rafferty
Brian Young
at 14:14, 27 Feb 2006
Posts: 28
poetry- form or function?
I am curious- what, if any, conclusion did you and others come to with respect to what, if any, harm free verse might have on "poetics"? (Whatever that is).
What particular “form” a work of poetry has been written in seems to be irrelevant, at least to me. Perhaps that is because the very idea of “studying” poetry is strange to me.
I don’t think that poetry needs to be defended against anything by anyone. I read poems with my heart. If they speak to me, than I not only don’t care what particular form they have been restricted to, I usually don’t even notice. If any poem fails to touch my heart, in a raw and immediate sense, then it has failed in my eyes. A very great deal of contemporary “poetry” is just prose, sometimes poorly written, that has been dressed up to look like poetry by being presented in short lines. That is a common trick that many people use to write what they insist is poetry.
There can be a wide range of reaction to a work of poetry, and that just reflects how our backgrounds and experience differ. I would never judge a poem just on how I react to it. But if it doesn’t grab me at once, then I let it alone. I like to work at history and math. Poetry is not something I want to be required to study and work at. It’s like love at first sight. If it happens, be thankful. Don’t start with anatomical analysis. Love can be studied to death.
Brian Young
sally potter
at 15:32, 27 Feb 2006
Posts: 193
2 responses
hello Philip...
YES is, knowingly, a one word quotation from James Joyce's 'Ulysses'. I believe Molly Bloom's last monologue to be one of the most beautiful passages in literature; erotic, tender...
Who did I read to prepare for writing YES? It didnt really happen in such an organised way as that. I just started writing and tried to let the process of doing it become my teacher. But when i wanted to remember how iambic pentameter can be at its most flowing, intense and delicately dense, I looked at Shakespeare's sonnets.
Thank you for your appreciation.

hello Brian
It is good to respond from the heart, but the brain is also a love organ....analysis can be passionate process too. I find when writing verse that it comes from the heart (and gut and all the other places in the body where it now seems there is some evidence of having some similar functions to the brain, in the form of receptors) and then, in trying to impove the quality of what i have generated, I use my critical faculty, to the best of my ability. It is definitely work, and often painful (and slow) but often thrilling, too.
Brian Young
at 08:28, 28 Feb 2006
Posts: 28
where love grows
Hello Sally
Yes, the brain is an organ of love. I love that idea, that thought. And I know that the most intense love leaves nothing on the table. Thoughts and kisses are both gifts that we can give each other, and love requires only that we open our hearts and minds, and give and receive without restraint. I never meant that the first intense volley of passion should not, if the writer wishes, be pruned, and refined, and I am sure that almost all writers do that. The intense heart beating and sweating that we feel when writing to our love is much like the passion a mathematician feels when closing in on a difficult and elusive new proof. But that is a one person affair, while love is a venture for two, but it does indeed prove that the brain is an organ of the most intense passion. That is where love happens, and the heart is where it’s felt.
Brian Young
Brian Young
at 09:40, 11 Mar 2006
Posts: 28
Molly Bloom and YES
I’ve had a 1961 Vintage Books edition of Ulysses by James Joyce on my bookshelf since- 1961, dragged it all over and around, through two immigrations, thrice back and forth over the Atlantic, always intending to read it, and failing at several attempts, until, finally, the post above By Sally Potter firmed up my resolve, and I worked through it to the end. The end, that is the last forty-five pages, the relentless and passionate words of Molly Bloom. This passage not only ends with “yes”, it begins with “yes”: “YES BECAUSE HE NEVER DID A THING LIKE THAT BEFORE AS ASK…” and ends with “…and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes."
Ulysses is a long and difficult road to take your eyes and heart along, with passionate heights, and confusing stretches of desert switchbacks, but the journey is worth it. Anyone who has followed and loved the power of YES should at least read this final part of Ulysses. I heard in my mind’s ear the voice of the Aunt (Sheila Han****) saying these words. Forty five pages, no punctuation (only one period), you have to make your decisions about how to group the words. It is a torrent, a stream, a raging river of language, and you only need move your eyes across the page and let it flow into you heart and mind. Truly a stunning achievement in the English language. It starts on page 738. Read it!
Brian Young
ps. We can be thankful that the prose and poetry police were not riding posse in those days, or surely this mountain of free verse would have been corralled and strung up.
sally potter
at 09:00, 24 Mar 2006
Posts: 193
I completely agree with you about the power and beauty of this monologue. When i was a little girl I often gazed for hours at a battered copy of a beautiful book of photographs called 'The Family of Man' which had short literary quotes scattered throughout its pages. One of them was the last lines of this monologue. I used to stare at these words, too, strangely moved, though I knew nothing about Joyce at the time, and 'stream of conciousness' would probably have been an incomprehensible phrase.

In moscow, many years later, on a private tour of the Eisenstein museum,(which was housed in an apartment as if Eisenstein had just stepped out for a moment), I came across his battered. well thumbed copy of Ulysses on one of the crowded bookshelves. this too was a moving experience.

Like all books (or films come to that) that take huge risks in uncharted waters, Ulysses is challenging to read ( a film can feel 'boring' or provocative for the same reason).As for how to read such a challenging work, I sometimes pick up books I want to read but cannot yet bring myself to do so, and feel them, press the covers to my burning cheek, and put them back on the shelf until i am ready. i find this osmosis approach works quite well. something, somehow, gets absorbed energetically. perhaps just the desire to be associated with the mind of another.

thanks, brian.
Brian Young
at 11:42, 6 Apr 2006
Posts: 28
Feeling your way into a book
I had a similar experience with a collection of poems by Robinson Jeffers. I found this small collection (also a Vintage Book) in a used book sale many years ago. I had not heard of Robinson Jeffers before, but a quick glance was enough for me to know that it was a collection I had to have. After reading some of the short poems, I started on the long narrative poem “Roan Stallion”. After reading the first paragraph I knew that this was something special, and that I could not continue reading until I was alone. So I just held on tight (I was on a bus) until I got home, seeing in my mind’s eye the film that had already started to form. When I finally read the poem it came to me as a film, in a way no other poem ever has. I can still run it in my mind, and see, feel, hear and even smell the events portrayed.
The works of Robinson Jeffers are as relevant today as they were when he wrote them, and I would recommend them to anyone interested in the concerns discussed on this website.
Brian Young
sally potter
at 01:40, 16 Apr 2006
Posts: 193
Robinson Jeffers
Thank you for the recommendation. I am going to find this work and read it.
at 20:47, 23 Feb 2007
Posts: 14
Joyce's Ulysses & Hrant Dink
Dear Sally.....

I love your movie, YES, so much. I first saw it a couple of years ago & now own it on able to dive into the sea of YES whenever I choose. In addition to being a lover of independent films, I also love literature...especially poetry. I write poetry, as well. Yes, every day I'm a poet & a mother. It's hard to divide the two. I just noticed I used the word 'love' quite a lot in this 1st paragraph...normally, I'd challenge myself to find another way to express these feelings. 'Love' just works all around in this case.

Sally, as you've noted, sometimes a book calls out to be read. So many people have told me how "hard" a read this Ulysses is...I admit I'm a little afraid. Yet I'm a strong reader so really the fear is just an excuse. I've pressed this book to my cheek, to my heart, carried it around, thumbed the's time. I read the soliloquy excerpt....gorgeous! When I finish Orham Pamuk's fine Nobel Prize Winning "SNOW," I'll begin Ulysses.

On a more serious note, I'd be interested to hear your views, Sally, on the events that have unfolded in Turkey over the past month. The assassination of Hrant Dink, the imprisonment of writers & journalists under Article 301, Orhan Pamuk fleeing the country due to rising ultra-nationalist sentaments. You know all this, I'm sure.

Also, please ask Simon Abkarian if he'd be so kind as to share some of his thoughts & feelings on this. An Armenian friend of mine is a professor & genocide scholar who supplied historical data to Atom Egoyan for his film, Ararat. I'd be most honored to hear from either or both of you. I first saw Simon performing in Ararat as Arshile Gorky, about whom I've written a couple of poems. Both men's art -- in film & on canvas -- is full of passion & beauty.

Thank you for your generosity.

All best....

~Anthea Karanasos

There is only one man in the world & his name is All Men.
There is only one woman in the world & her name is All Women.
There is only one child in the world & the child's name is All Children.

~Carl Sandburg, from The Family of Man

sally potter
at 03:36, 1 Mar 2007
Posts: 193
To Ulysses: Yes. To assassination and persecution: No.
To the courage of he or she who dares to reinvent a form: Yes.
To the cowardice evidenced by those who institutionalize lies and encourage political amnesia: No.
To every attempt at conversation: Yes. To those who will not listen: No.
at 16:30, 14 Apr 2007
Posts: 17
Give me a flashlight so i can remove my eyes.
"Every man (Or woman) is infinitely more than what he (she) would be if he (she) would be just what he (she) is."
Martin Heidegger

That's all i have to say about your conversation.
Page: 1