Fear of A Poet in New York


Words by Billie Jenkins

I have yet to watch the Hollywood incarnation of On The Road. It isn’t in protest of the presence of super sulker Kristen Stewart, and not without want of seeing Sam Riley semi clad. It is because I am not quite yet ready to relinquish the feelings I first felt when I read Kerouac’s words,  however distant their traces were becoming. It is a fear that does not merely apply texts intimately intwined with fascinations of my early twenties, the sight of a bloated Tom Hollander writing himself into the legacy of Dylan Thomas left me unsettled. My esteem of Tom Hollander as an actor is unchallenged, somewhere between Rev, In the Loop, and helping a film student produce a feature that went all the way to the Oscars he replaced David Mitchell as one of my favourites (Hollander would never host Would I Lie to You?). But Thomas? Not now, not like this.

I could overlook the reincarnation of the poet who comes closet to my heart in The Edge of Loveit was never about Thomas, it was about friendship in unique circumstances and really good knitwear. I could sideline the Dylan Thomasness of Matthew Rhys. I’m not sure the Mr Toad in tweed and a glass of whiskey would detract somewhat from the potency of

‘From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages’
Probably not.
Since On The Road came out two years ago I have become increasingly resistant to the retelling, reframing and refilming of the books I hold dear. Arguments for the natural life of a text and organic development are no substitute for that gut wrenching feeling as you encounter words that will change you for the first time.




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