The Day The World Ends by Ethan Coen
Crown Publishing Group; April 3, 2012
Trade Paperback, 128 pages
Also available in as an ebook
From one of the most inventive and celebrated filmmakers of the twentieth century, and co-creator of such classics as Fargo, No Country for Old Men, and True Grit, a collection of poems that offers humor and insight into an artist who has always pushed the boundaries of his craft.
Ethan Coen's screenplays have surprised and delighted international audiences with their hilarious vision and bizarrely profound understanding of human nature. This eccentric genius is revealed again in The Day the World Ends, a remarkable range of poems that are as funny, ribald, provocative, raw, and often touching as the brilliant films that have made the Coen brothers cult legends.
In recognition of National Poetry Month this April, I read a new book of poetry from one of Hollywood's most acclaimed filmmakers: The Day The World Ends by Ethan Coen. (Yes, that Ethan Coen.) Although I'm not primarily known for reading poetry, astute followers know that the whole name of my blog is based on a poem. This is Coen's third book of poetry. He is also the author of the short story collection Gates of Eden," and co-author of two Oscar-winning screenplays. I sincerely doubt that a collection of poems from Ethan Coen titled The Day The World Ends being published in 2012, the year a Mayan calendar says the world will end is a coincidence.
If you know his movies (Raising Arizona, The Hudsucker Proxy, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Intolerable Cruelty, No Country for Old Men, and True Grit - to name a few), then you may have a good idea of how Ethan Coen's mind works and therefore the myriad directions his poetry could take. They were at time melancholy, hilarious, profound, profane, raw, and polished. Some of the poems were serious and reflective while others were silly and funny. Subjects of Coen's poems range from following the crowd, regrets, a whole collection of limericks, creativity, aging, the passing of time, big-boned girls, an elegy for a waterbug, a bad poem, bad relationships, Venice, the English language, and a profound discourse involving glue traps.
In "Night, Then Day" readers will know this feeling:
"It all takes on a
When sleep won't come. I read until
My eyes at least want rest, and kill
The light at last."....
"I watch the night thus
Stretch and touch
The day. The meaning of the show
Is hard to read. There is one, though -
I know this much." pg. 22
Self-Assessment is short but true:
In his heart a young fighter expects no defeats,
Every ham can play Hamlet, all poets are Keats
And all women are Garbo and men Cary Grant,
Being each of us his own best sycophant." pg. 43
In "To the English Language":
For being there
During certain parts of my life:
When friends failed me,
When women dumped me,
When my weight ballooned and I was treated in the
hurtful dismissive way familiar to those
Who are fat.
Because of you, I could respond,
Declare my humanity
And, in verbalizing, prove it."...
"So, on balance,
You are good, very good.
You mean so very much to me, O English language,
And I love you.
I love you.
I really do." pg. 69
I laughed several times while reading "On Turning Fifty" when Coen promotes skipping your forties completely:
"I'm telling you: the forties are nothing
The forties are less than nothing.
The forties are the ugly stretch of the Interstate.
The forties are taupe." ...pg. 76
In “On Seeing Venice for the First Time”
"Seeing Venice for the first time really makes a guy sit down and think.
Boy, you think.
Boy, this is Venice.
Wow." ...pg. 88
In "A New Poem" his new poem, obviously not successful is described as:
"The bald chicken,
Glistening, feather-plucked, beak the color of old toenail." pg. 103
"You have set out all your glue traps
I have skipped across the floor
I have not stepped in your glue traps
I have made it out the door." ...pg. 106
In honor of National Poetry Month this April, I'm offering one of my lucky readers a chance to win a copy of Ethan Coen's The Day the World Ends from the publisher! (Be forewarned that some of the poems in this collection include profanity and adult situations.)
This giveaway ends at noon on April 30th and a winner will be announced that evening.
The giveaway has ended and he lucky winner, Belinda, has been sent an email!
Thanks to everyone who entered!