14 times poetry was used in awesome movies.

If you know me, you know I love poetry and films. One predates the other by thousands of years but in this day and age they are becoming increasingly similar. Here is a list of 14 times films used poetry to awesome effect.

14. 22 Jump Street

Oscar Wilde said “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” so I am gonna apply that here. I am sure everybody is aware of this, and honestly only 60% of open mics are actually like this. Jonah Hill does a wonderful job here, my second favourite part of the movie, beaten only by “My name is Jeff”

13. So I married an Axe Murderer

So I Married an Axe Murder features a brilliant original poem performed by  Mike Myers (Shrek, Austin Powers). In this spoken word piece Myers character throws shade on all the  women in his life that left him feeling blue.

12. Blade Runner

You may have been expecting “Tears in Rain.” That final monologue has become one of films greatest soliloquies. However, Blade Runner actually borrows a few lines from famous poems, when the Replicant’s use these quotes with their sinister tone it adds an eerie intelligence to their characters. I have chosen to use a purposely misquoted William Blake’s America: A Prophecy. 

11. Ill Manors

Awesome movie? Maybe not. Awesome Poetry? Definitely. I am not a huge fan of Plan B’s directorial debut, it’s essentially an urban Lord of the Rings where Francis (Yeah from Deadpool) walks around to find his phone. I respect this film massively for the inclusion of John Cooper Clarke, reading his poems at a pub open mic. That is the experience of a spoken word artist right there, maybe not those as famous as the big JCC though.

10. Four Weddings and a Funeral

I love John Hannah. I think it was his wonderfully Scottish portrayal of ruthless roman Batiatus in Spartacus, which you loved when you were 18 but now is just an over-sexed, super violent, less intelligent Game of Thrones.  Anyway, here is John Hannah reading Auden in its entirety. What more do you need?

9. Dangerous Minds

I was really tempted just to post the music video to Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise, now that’s poetry. In Dangerous Minds, Michelle Pfieffer (Good) has to teach some poor kids (Bad) about words and stuff, she used poetry, music and…karate?? It all works out in the end and if it doesn’t feel satisfactory just bump that Coolio track again.

8. Skyfall

Skyfall is a great film. It’s even a great James Bond film when you judge it against the Daniel Craig embodiment of Bond. Here, M quotes Alfred Tennyson’s Ulysses , a harrowing reminder of the constant clash of the old versus the new, a key theme throughout the entire film.

7. Death Proof

Tarantino says it’s his worst film. If you’re somebody (like me) who spent their teenage years trying to watch every horror film ever starting at Numero Uno (The Devil’s Castle, 1896) then Death Proof may have a place in your heart for the way it pays homage to it’s wonderful grind house predecessors. What makes it extra sweet for me is Stuntman Mike quoting Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening in a super creepy but somewhat manner.

6. Apocalypse Now

T.S Eliot’s The Hollow Men appears in Apocalypse Now. Read by a still wonderful Marlon Brando, I don’t really want to say much more. If you haven’t seen the film, do not watch the above clip instead get yourself down the blockbuster and rent the video immediately Granddad.

5. Holes

Holes was genius. You read it for GCSE English, it starred a not yet viral Shia Labeouf and the main character’s surname was his first name spelled backwards. Admit it, when you were a kid you loved it, and they even snuck in some Edgar Allen Poe. You know before you knew who he was in your goth stage.

4. 10 things I hate about you 

Remember Kat? Remember Kat’s Sonnet? Yeah that’s a love poem and you know it, you can tell from how many times she uses the word “hate”. On reflection I feel like my entire literary career may have been inspired by this piece.

3. Kindergarten Cop

The ultimate action film for 90’s Kids. For years film makers had been posing the question “Can Arnold Schwarzenegger act?” but only Kindergaten Cop had the gall to ask “Can Arnold Scwarzenegger read?” Here he is reading some poetry from A A Milne.

Side Note: 

2. AI

The second sentient robot film on the list, but this one is a Spielberg masterclass. Its a half crafted fairy tale mixed with a sci-fi fable.  Here Yeat’s poem The Stolen Child is shown to David by Dr Know.

1. Citizen Kane

Considered one of the best films of all time, usually by people who haven’t seen it, Orson Welle’s 1941 drama. I mean it is great for the the time, it is kind of complex and will hold your interest but does it have giant robots fighting monsters, or any of the current Marvel/DC roster? It does not. It does have some poetry though, which is a strong second.

Disclaimer; I couldn’t find the clip that uses Coleridge’s Kubla Khan but I found a Minecraft remake. I think it’s what Welles would have wanted.

To Aaron Dugmore

It is 4 years to the day since Aaron Dugmore took his life, aged only 9. I have written a memorial piece for Aaron and have today shared it online complete with a video.

I remember writing this poem, an anti-bullying awareness piece; I was sat in my room alone mourning the loss of my grandad Roy, who had died a few days previous. My eyes were stinging, I wasn’t sure if it was from the stale tears that sat on my cheeks or the fact my laptop’s light had been beaming directly on to my face for hours. I sat with a blank word document open, I was desperately trying to write a memorial piece for my grandad but the words would not come, everything was wrong, it was misguided and most of all rushed.

Then I remember one of the best memorial poems I have ever heard, it is a piece by Brighton based poet Karen Withecomb and speaks honestly and openly about her mother, it is aptly titled “For My Mother.” I remember the first time she read it aloud, it struck a real chord with me and I could feel the love and adoration radiating from the poem. It may just be one of my favourite poems I have ever heard. Then I remembered another fine detail, Karen stating it had taken her years to complete, and this gave me an overwhelming sense of relief.  I stopped trying so hard.

I came away from the blank MS Word document and opened up my web browser, I looked at the news stories and that was when I saw the story of Aaron Dugmore trending. I must have read every article available on the case and it filled my heart with a great sadness. As somebody who has battled with depression and flirted with suicide, seeing a story about a child taking their life is sobering, it makes you see a real irrationality in the act but also a deep empathy resonated in my bones.

The story reminded me of another poem, To Ricky Reel, by the amazing author Benjamin Zephaniah. This poem was an open letter to Ricky Reel, a young man who lost his life in a savage racist attack in 1997. There were stark comparisons that could be drawn from both Aaron Dugmore’s story and that of Ricky Reel from the media coverage and this made me sad, angry and more importantly inspired.

I borrowed Zephaniah’s tone and began writing an open letter to Aaron Dugmore. I was able to channel my grief and work it in to an apology, to say sorry for the ugliness a young child saw in such a short lifetime.

As time goes on, some of the finer details of the case have changed, and some people question the racial elements and what really happened, even suggesting the media furore clouded the cold hard facts, but that does not make my work any less important.

This poem speaks out against bully’s, much like Benjamin Zephaniah’s work. We must teach our children to see everybody as one, to look upon each other with the eyes of love. We must not fill children with fear; we must be disciplined when we teach them to interact with society. We must teach them to accept and not just to tolerate and we ourselves must become more accepting.

I perform this poem every time I step on to a different stage or a new venue so the memory of Aaron is not forgotten.  I dedicate this work not only to Aaron but to any child who has hated their existence because others have made them feel worthless, for those who suffer in silence because of fear of speaking out, or that they will be dismissed by those who are supposed to look after them.


Here is the full transcript of the poem;


To Aaron Dugmore

You packed your bag for the last time today,

You reluctantly walked to school amid the cold February air.

Your body shivered but the weather was not penetrating that warm winter coat.

No, today, you shook with fright.

If we believe the papers you were punished for being white,

They cite the fact the school is made up of 75 percent ethnic minorities.

The priorities of the authorities was never your safety,

I’ve lost a lot of faith in humanity lately,

When I heard how another child had taken his life,

I could do nothing but cry.

You were only nine, but your outlook on life was that there was nowhere left to hide.

Even when they threatened you with a plastic knife and told you their parents said white kids deserve to die,

The school just turned a blind eye.

Erdington wronged you.

They said Boys will be boys

or kids can be cruel

but not one single child should fear going to school.

How was the walk home for you?

Did you have any clue what you were going to do?

Or was it merely madness of the moment,

here’s hoping you felt no pain

God knows I have done the same

And no child should experience the way in which a rope cuts off oxygen flow to the brain.

I broke down when I saw your picture,

but if I’ve learnt anything, it’s to wipe my eyes.

So Aaron on behalf of earth

I apologise.