There are some business ventures that seem like a rite of passage as a celebrity, like fragrances, alcoholic beverages, make-up lines, and shoes. But, unfortunately, the latest celebrity thing is poetry. Maybe it’s the English Major coming out in me, but celebrity poetry is my least favorite type of literature. Celebrity poetry stems from the combination of a famous person having far too many options and the idea that they are convinced that they somehow hold the answers to, well, everything.
Here’s where the problem starts… Celebrities have the financial security to pursue other passions outside of the field they’re talented in (the one that, presumably, made them famous), and sometimes those passions involve truly terrible poetry. I know—they’re just like us. Plenty of us “normal” people have creative hobbies, and, likewise, plenty of us have written dreadfully serious poetry as well. Most of us, however, don’t have the name recognition and money to get our poetry published and placed on the shelf at Target’s across the nation simply two months after writing our first line in the Notes app of our iPhone.
What frustrates me most about this is that there are so many poets who have spent their whole lives perfecting their craft or who have dedicated their entire education to learning to write better poetry. And then Lana Del Rey decides on a whim that poetry is her next pursuit, only to flood the market with her self-involved 1950s daydreams.
I will admit that Lana Del Rey isn’t totally unqualified, considering writing music could be considered a form of poetry. There are even some decent singer-songwriter poets, like Florence Welch; however, there are also people like Gabby Hanna, an internet personality who decided to break into the world of poetry in 2017. Her poems, which attempt to mimic Rupi Kaur’s use of powerful emotion and simple language, include lines like “time / is relative. / beauty / is relative. / family / is relatives.” Sadly, this poem is embedded in my brain forever.
Then, there are also actresses in the mix. This includes Kristen Stewart, the then Twilight star who shared her nonsensical road trip poem “My Heart is a Wiffle Ball/Freedom Poll” with Marie Claire, which has lines like “Your nature perforated the abrasive Organ pumps” and “Your every twitch hand drum salute”. Or, there’s Bella Thorne and Lindsay Lohan’s Instagram poetry, which takes the form of therapeutic, stream of conscience journaling more than anything else.
Poetry has become a way for celebrities to attempt to understand their career by moving to another. Amber Tamblyn, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Actress, acknowledges her fallen acting career in her poem “Laurel Gene” when she states “I used to play characters. Now I am portrayed. / As a dull domestic darling. A 30 year old 80 year old.” It’s not that bad. At least that’s what I thought until I got to the next stanza which begins to describe her sexual fantasies about a vacuum and Ingmar Bergman. In short, any line that even had the guise of being profound completely lost its credibility.
Celebrity poetry seems utterly pretentious and full of “life experience” from people who rarely experience real life. The fact that they haven’t experienced life like us “normal” people is not necessarily what makes them often inept at writing; instead, it’s that most of them lack the ability to see that their life isn’t like everyone else’s. People do not want to read about celebrities internal musing, and more often buy their books to laugh at their audacity. Unfortunately, this still takes attention away from writers who dedicate their time to writing smart, thoughtful work to put into this world, and that’s something that I can’t get over.