The Writing After David Lynch ten-week course took us all on a thrilling and mysterious journey across David Lynch’s films. As part of the penultimate session, on Mulholland Drive, I invited the students to respond to Naomi Watts’ staggering audition scene with a single four-line stanza, that I would then order and curate into a group poem.
I took inspiration for this exercise from Edward Doegar’s recently published PERVERSE poem and note, one of several in which he submits a poem but invites the editor to arrange the stanzas into whatever order they prefer.
Huge thanks to the students whose words appear below (in no particular order, as that would be telling): Poppy Cockburn, Arji Manuelpillai, Emily Haworth-Booth, Nick Makoha, Vasiliki Albedo, Charlie Baylis, Derek Adams, Aidan Flinn, Jane Salmons, and Sue Kindon.
I’ll leave you with the words of critic Roger Ebert: ‘This is a movie to surrender yourself to. If you require logic, see something else. Mulholland Drive works directly on the emotions, like music’. Enjoy the poem.
If you can’t get away,
go deeper. This is ACTING:
pretend your hair is a lightbulb
illuminating the universe.
As you talk show them your
hands and palms. Ask questions
like it’s true that – you’re only
as healthy as you feel.
Only his body is in the room.
When the director’s called on for advice,
a somnambulist surfacing, he looks up,
strings words into vacuous banalities.
Our orbs of expectation
are drowned by the harsh light of reality.
Dreams, crushed into desolation
to become the plaything of an inferior man.
The platinum blonde
moves his hand to
her ass. Acting/reacting.
the secret to intimacy is heavy breathing
the secret to spell-breaking is applause
the secret to living is saying ‘action!’
the secret to secrets is fake tan.
A slow hand runs
into the puncture
of a question mark.
are those fake pearls, the ear studs,
the single strand? She places
his hand nice and close, like in the movies,
noisy kisses, wanting
heavy breathing, do it as expected not imagined,
do it with your surprise guest, tell me where it hurts
baby, action until it gets real, nice and close, clap
baby, that was humanistic and really very good.
Follow the hand / not the glove
the hand dictates.
Step out of the silence / Diane in tears.
If this is how it ends / forgive me.