Realistic poetry against reality

Inspired by William Carlos Williams, Jim Jarmusch looks for the poetic in everyday life in Paterson

The film quietly observes the triumphs and defeats of daily life, along with the poetry evident in its smallest details.
The film quietly observes the triumphs and defeats of daily life, along with the poetry evident in its smallest details.

Adam Driver plays an unpublished bus driver and poet in “Paterson”

There are those who have seen in “Paterson” (2016, Jim Jarmusch) a wonderful fable about “everyday poetry” and who have been disappointed by the poor quality of the poems written by their protagonist (Adam Driver). Let us now say that each and every one is right even if everyone falls short. The first ones demonstrate to have understood the context where the film is developed but they resort to the most repeated cliché in the social networks or the press to define it, and the second ones – because they do not read enough – bring up the western canon but ignore that Poetry is above anything an attitude before language (and by extension before reality), not so much a question of good or bad, better or worse. If we forget that poetry (written or visual) emanates from our most mundane essence, let’s get ready; And if we turn poetry exclusively into an Olympic Games with gold, silver and bronze medals, we will also be ready.

So let’s work a bit so we do not stereotype the exceptional. Let poetry remain a triumph and a failure at the same time, the triumph of language when we use it to overcome reality and its failure when we realize that the mental music that generates it never unfolds completely in the writing of a poem.

Images and verses

Paterson does things of poetry: he establishes rhymes between repeated images (establishing a parallelism between everyday and rhythm, without sometimes realizing the importance of these reiterations, as if we do not hear his music), and produces Images between the images (in a way similar to certain verses, capable of introducing the reader into the composition, culminating it with the words that are missing, suggested through multiple rhetorical figures with which language is generated without having to write it).

In addition, the film dwells on some of the principles on which poetry is based: the contemplation of movement in nature (through water falling through a waterfall) and the fusion of words and images (implying that poetry Does not translate other languages, but merges with them, something that is often given in Asian art and which Jarmusch explores by turning some of Paterson’s plans into canvases on which he writes the verses that his protagonist composes.

“Paterson” owes much to Jarmusch’s early dedication to poetry, after studying it at university. In an exercise of multiplication, “Paterson” in the film is the name of the protagonist and the name of the city in the state of New Jersey where he has Place history; And is also the name of a poetic cycle composed by William Carlos Williams, who lived there many years. Circles expanding in space and time, establishing a sort of overlapping despite the caesuras. And the poetry arises between the images, without the images themselves abandon their narrative side, while they follow a bus driver who in his spare time writes poems without any eagerness to publish them someday although his wife (Golshifteh Farahani) insists on doing it .
In this way, the poetic does not arise from the encounter with the extraordinary but rather from the attitude of surprise before the ordinary: a girl who reads some verses composed by her (written in reality by Jarmusch), a man who raps (the singer Method Man reciting one of his compositions) inside a laundry room, or a Japanese tourist (Masatoshi Nagase) -added to the poetry- that visits the city of Paterson only because that was where William Carlos Williams lived, one of the first poets who Made a literary use of the colloquial speech and freed the Anglo-Saxon lyrical of its pleitesias towards the metric and even the rhyme.

Jim Jarmusch thought of using four poems by Ron Padgett throughout the film, naming him “poetic supervisor” but without asking him to compose original poems, because writing poetry by commission – and under the pressure of time – must be one of the things More difficult and ungrateful. However, the openness of the script and the receptivity of the team to the unpredictable facilitated that Padgett was able to compose the seven poems finally used, thanks to the interconnection that he felt with the dialogues first and later with the images that he was seeing to measure That advanced the taxiing. I suppose in the background «

Paterson “is the sum of Jarmusch’s early dedication to poetry after studying at Columbia University (New York), and Padgett’s work (which in the 1960s, the year after the death of William Carlos Williams, went to the city where the latter worked as a doctor and in his spare time composed a long epic poem about their buildings, parks, streets and citizens). I do not know who said that poetry was something like the opposite Of the money, the important thing is that for me he is right and I think he also has it for Jim Jarmusch, who in Paterson deploys a subtle fabric of references to money, job insecurity and trouble to afford the least luxury if you are A worker in the United States today, with the possibility of isolating you from the world when you can not even realize small dreams (like painting your house of another color, baking muffins to sell in the local market or learn Give up playing the guitar) and give up poetry, which can discover the rhythm of your life and the rhyme of seemingly repeated days, in addition to connecting with those who have similar experiences and do not know how to express them. In American society (according to David Foster Wallace, full of impossible expectations, ruthless judgments and endless psychic shit), Paterson’s protagonist tells us – with verses by Chantal Maillard – that: “I write / so that poisoned water / Can drink.”


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