For centuries, poets have tapped the rich font of Greek gods for source material, sending dutiful students to Bulfinch’s to unpack the meaning of verse by Byron or Keats or Glück. But as A. Van Jordan proves in his new collection, The Cineaste, movies are the new mythology. He offers sharp ruminations on films both familiar (Blazing Saddles) and relatively obscure (Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali).
Jordan reimagines classic images, like the boy carried aloft above his schoolmates in The Red Balloon: ”his floating away,/his act of no-act-at-all for him, is already/too many octaves above their voices.” In “Do the Right Thing,” he seems to join an onscreen Greek chorus: ”People were evicted,/put out like butter sliding across a skillet’s face./Most of us were outside by then….” Throughout, he finds evocative new ways to connect us to a shared storytelling heritage. B+