Celebrity Poetry: Where Is It?

In 1995, Jewel had a best-selling album, Pieces of You, which sold 12 million copies. Before releasing another CD, she published a book of poems, A Night Without Armor, which sold over a million copies. Why didn’t this become a trend? Why don’t more celebrities publish poetry? Even Bob Dylan has written only books of prose (Tarantula and Chronicles: Volume One).

Can’t you see a “tell-all” epic poem by Britney Spears topping the best-seller list? We’re not talking about great poetry here, just chatty verse. See, here’s the beginning of Paris Hilton’s Confessions of an Heiress rendered as poetry:

 

A lot of people seem

to have the wrong idea

about me. In fact,

pretty much everything

I read about myself

is totally ridiculous.

Newspapers and

magazines write that

I’m spoiled and

privileged, and

that all I do is dance

on tabletops …

 

Not bad, huh? I’ve read worse Carl Sandburg poems.

After numerous phone calls to literary agents, I can only find one potentially poetic celeb. Joan Rivers is rumored to be writing a 260-page narrative poem about her career from 1964 to 1966—in couplets! Hopefully, once her book is released (in late 2010), other stars will pull out their thesauruses and get to work. (Get your ass to the desk, Johnny Depp!)

The Critic’s Critic

I spoke to Arnold J. Foley, freelance art critic, in a Nigerian tea bar in Astoria, Queens.

Sparrow: What are the main problems in the contemporary art world?

Mr. Foley: To begin with, the art world in New York is entirely segregated by neighborhood. All the paintings in the Upper East Side galleries must be attractive hanging over a sofa.

I don’t care if they’re by Picasso, they have to be “sofa-ready” (that’s the term I use). The art in Chelsea must impress an art professor; in fact, it has impressed an art professor. The art on the Lower East Side is scruffy—not really scruffy, but faux-scruffy. The art in Williamsburg is made out of non-art stuff: mayonnaise, poodle hair, broken zippers.

Sparrow: And which is your favorite art?

Mr. Foley: It’s not a matter of favorites. My point is just the opposite. All segregation is evil, even in art. We need the sofa-ready paintings to speak to the poodle hair sculptures, but they never do! In fact, the two genres need to mate.

Sparrow: Do you have any other complaints about the art world?

Mr. Foley: Another philosophical problem is “outsider art.” No one can settle on a name for it. Some prefer “vernacular art”; some go for “self-taught art.” Or “folk art.” I like to call it True Art.