Mary Jane Doherty reads “The Snow Man” by Wallace Stevens (Favorite Poem Project)


Not a day goes by where I’m not stunned by
the idea of the pure synthesis of forming content. It’s an ideal goal that can never be achieved,
and yet you can get close. I’m Mary Jane and I make movies. People who don’t make movies think that moviemaking
is difficult, and I think that we’re all cheating. I find a situation filled with people that
instantly feels cinematic. I want the world that I encounter to do all
the work for me. And in order for that to happen, I charge
all over the world, marching along, looking for those stories. But you know, I don’t abide by that “I’ll
shoot a lot and hope some of it works,” that approach is a big boo boo. Because you shoot randomly, each shot has
to matter. I don’t think there’s any art form that’s
as demanding and requires as much understanding of sound and picture together as poetry. With Snow Man, for me it’s bringing us back
up to the North woods. Mind of winter. I know from cold, I know brittle, I know ice. And something I will relish and treasure is
crisp, beautiful cold. One must have a mind of winter, to regard
the frost and the boughs of the pine trees crusted with snow. And have been cold a long time to behold the
junipers shagged with ice, the spruces rough in the distant glitter of the January sun. And not to think of any misery in the sound
of the wind, in the sound of a few leaves, which is the sound of the land, full of the
same wind that is blowing in the same bare place. For the listener who listens in the snow,
and, nothing himself, beholds, nothing that is not there and the nothing that is. So I think what I could do is, stick that
guy first. This is a perfect case where it gives, what
they’re doing drives the camera. So the camera work isn’t gratuitous. I talk, probably at nauseam about this relationship
between form and content. What is it about a movie that requires that
this story be a movie, as opposed to a poem? I think the thing that kept me from poetry
and keeps a lot of people from poetry is this feeling that you have to know so much to understand
it. And so I let go of that worry and just enjoyed
them. I enjoyed the shape, the sound, the rhythms,
the way they clackety-clack together. The words clackety-clack sometimes, and then
they mush. With Snow Man, it’s the seductive setup. Same wind, same bare place. Dee dee dee, dee. It gets tiny tiny, and you can see one scraping
leaf. And to hear that little leaf produces inside
of you this opening, this space, and then can enter in the biggest question of all. Nothing that is not there and the nothing
that is. I just got chills again, like I’ve never heard
the poem before. How can you say something so big with so few
words? It’s precision, it’s efficiency and perhaps
because I’m a filmmaker and we’re on a time-based medium, I care about time. You know it’s funny because I can see the
flaws in films all the time, but when a poem is perfect, it’s there, it lives and breathes
all by itself.

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