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Galen Williams

GALEN WILLIAMS is the founder of Poets and Writers.

In Conversation

A Poetic Life
HARVEY SHAPIRO with Galen Williams

Harvey Shapiro, who passed away in early January just weeks before his 89th birthday, was the partner of my mother, Galen Williams, for 15 years. They had known each other for decades beforehand, as Harv (as I came to call him) moved in the same literary circles for many decades that my mother and my father, the late William Rossa Cole, traveled in.

OUTTAKES: Patricia Clarkson Humor & Rue without Ado

Her voice is deep and rich, like the sauce of coq au vin. Her gaze is calm, nonchalant, spacey. But as you watch, bewitched, a sudden switch: a spurt of sarcasm, a wry twist of the mouth, a trenchant stare. She dishes out a tough "Get over it!" dose of face-your-life reality. Though her characters know vulnerability and melancholy, she moves on mordantly, yet wistfully.

Charlotte Rampling

Actress Charlotte Rampling’s cat eyes catch you in their vise. She knows more than she’ll ever let on; she’s seen things she’ll never tell. A glance could hide a sadistic affair; a flicker, a murder. Her angular face is intelligent, subtle. She achieves the maximum with the merest muscle. "She threw me a look I caught in my hip pocket," says Robert Mitchum in Farewell My Lovely (1975) about Rampling’s sizzling femme fatale. In The Night Porter, (1973) Dirk Bogarde says of her, "Those emerald eyes turn to steel within a second." Of course, in that movie Rampling lays a sadomasochistic lover of her former SS commandant.

Outtakes: On Movies—The Gyllenhaals

There is Shirley MacLaine and Warren Beatty, Joan and John Cusack, Julia and Eric Roberts (who got his sis into show business in the first place). Now there’s Maggie and Jake Gyllenhall (pronounced Jill-enhall), ages 24 and 21, the newest brother/sister combo to hit town.

Outtakes: Notes from Paris

Lovers may love Paris, but Paris loves movies. Three hundred films are shown daily, many of them American, both old and new. The other night, for example, I saw Charade, the elegant, fast-paced 1955 film with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn upon which The Truth About Charley, a haphazard film and a waste of studio money and customer time, is based.

Outtakes: The Words of Kill Bill Volume 2

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote scripts in Hollywood for two years. A complete flop, he was fired as a screenwriter. He was a born novelist. On the other hand, Quentin Tarantino, who wrote and directed Kill Bill, is a born screenwriter and he’s not shy talking about it.

OUT-TAKES: The Power of Osama

A country governed by the Taliban is not the best place to have wet dreams. If it happens, you are forced to perform ablutions decreed by them.

Teen Power: From American Brands to Foreign Brandos

The cover of July’s Vanity Fair provocatively displays "tween" stars all clad in pink skin-tight duds. Maybe it’s because I grew up with a young Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet as my heroine, but the magazine’s emphasis on these teens’ status as commodity spin-offs rather than their (few shreds of) talent startled me.

Outtakes: On Movies (Isabelle Huppert)

I don’t know of a serious American actress who would take such enormous risks on screen as calmly cutting her vagina with a razor blade so her blood drips into the white bathtub; incestuously ripping away her mother’s nightgown rasping, “I see your hairs!”; or giving a blowjob to a man she imperiously commands not to touch himself to finish it off, adding, “Now you can put it away…hard.”

Outtakes: On Movies

Minority Report and The Fast Runner

Poetic Lives I: Harvey Shapiro, in conversation with Galen Williams

Harvey Shapiro has published 11 books of poetry. His most recent is How Charlie Shavers Died and Other Poems (Wesleyan University Press, June 2001).


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

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