William Park, Faculty Emeritus in Literature, is a scholar of the 18th century and knows his heroic couplets—so it’s no great surprise that he would eventually put his hand to writing an epic poem in the style of Alexander Pope and other poets whose work he enlightened for generations of SLC students.
What might be more surprising, though, is the subject Park chose: the complete history of Hollywood. The poem spans a century of film lore, full of the insights that were part of his fabled SLC lecture course, “The Movies.”
Park’s portfolio includes a cum laude baccalaureate from Princeton and a doctorate in 18th century English literature—as well as a love for the movies that was, in the early '60s, when he came to teach at SLC, more a secret passion than an acceptable academic bent. But by 1966, Park found a way to add the study of film to his teaching load.
Park calls his 89-page poem Hollywood: An Epic Production—an apt title, says novelist Allan Gurganus ’72, one of Park’s former students. “The Poetic Muse, blessed with her gift for lyrical compression and radical jump-cuts, appears to be the perfect historian for our age’s essential art form,” Gurganus writes in a preface to the poem. “Hollywood, without quite knowing it needed one, has found its informed and playful bard.”
Hollywood, published by 1stbooks, is available from such online booksellers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Borders and by special order at your local bookstore.
Hollywood: An Epic Production
To you O Muse! We bow in our appeal;
Implore thy aid for words that make us feel,
The greatest glory Thirties movies bear,
The dancing, singing Rogers and Astaire.
An ancient Greek, as wondered modern man,
How Homer could compose his epic span,
So wondered we how in these latter days,
Despite the Crash, the wars, the lethal ways,
An art like Keats’s storied Grecian urn,
Again appeared preserved in cam’ra’s turn.
From famed screen test: “Can’t act, can dance a bit,”
Fred took a plane to Rio, made a hit,
He put his head to Ginger’s head, the dunce,
And said, “Let’s try this ‘Carioca’ once.”
On patterned floor in black and white they dance,
Perfection in their steps, their arms, their glance;
A chemistry of equal gender love,
A magic mixture sent from high above.
© 2002 1stbooks, Inc. and William Park