Saturday, July 19, 2008



It’s All a Movie by Alex Gildzen
(Otoliths, Rockhampton, Australia, 2007)

Classifying Alex Gildzen’s book It’s All a Movie is not easy. In size and shape, it looks like a poetry book (6 x 9, published by a poetry press, begins with a poem)—it even contains a fair amount of poetry, but a poetry book alone it is not; rather, the collection documents one writer’s love affair with film, with “the movies” in their classic star-filled glamour. The title, of course, gives us a clue to this fact, as do the images of Marilyn on the cover (we get a prose section in the book on a Marilyn paper doll), yet even with those, I wasn’t prepared for how much of the spirit of the movies Gildzen would capture in this book. He brings us questions of reality versus story, life versus art, and art versus life. Ultimately, the influence of films on Gildzen, of one art form on a writer’s imagination, is fascinating to see spread out across these disparate pages.

It’s All a Movie is separated into five parts. The parts are preceded by an introductory poem, one that sets us up for a book filled with the movies. Part 1 is about first movies, about what we remember and how our memories of movies influence us. Less poem than recording, this section catalogues responses to the question, “What is the first movie you remember?” Gildzen starts with his own answer, The Wizard of Oz, and then presents answers from 50 people he claims were sent the question. The list includes people like Woody Allen, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Robert Altman. Right away, the question becomes, is this a catalogue of real responses or imaginary ones? To me, either would be interesting because of the commentary provided on the people through their memories or the writer through what he imagines as their memories. Part 2 shifts to present poems that look like traditional ones. These poems all in some way deal with movie stars or reactions to them. In part 3, we see photographs of stars or influential people from films in pictures with Gildzen or with Gildzen’s mother, or we see pictures Gildzen’s has taken himself of movie stars, like Buddy Ebsen (Jed Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies). In part 4 we are presented with a prose explanation of the Marilyn Monroe paper doll housed in the Kent State University Library’s Special Collections. The prose explores Marilyn’s strict control over her image, making me wonder if Gildzen is doing the same in this book with his image. Part 5 turns again in a new direction, for the writer presents us with a list of movies seen and events from 1981 in chronological order.

Ultimately, though I do not know what exactly to call this collection, I found it fascinating, and that says a lot since I do not consider myself much of a movie person. This collection, however, somehow captures the essence, the glitter, that has made Hollywood so influential and shows its influence on a writer, so perhaps it could be said that this work traces the roots of a communally imagined world heightened through Gildzen’s eyes.


Musician, sailor, poet, critic--William Allegrezza teaches and writes from his base in Chicago. His poems, articles, and reviews have been published in several countries, including the U.S., Holland, Italy, Finland, the Czech Republic, and Australia, and are available in many online journals. Also, he is the editor of moria, a journal dedicated to experimental poetry and poetics, and the editor-in-chief of Cracked Slab Books. His e-books and books include Fragile Replacements, The Vicious Bunny Translations, Covering Over, Temporal Nomads, Collective Instant, Ladders in July, and In the Weaver's Valley. He occasionally posts random thoughts on his blog p-ramblings.

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