James Franco to read at the Poetry Foundation

Written By Sun-Times Wire Posted: 01/29/2014, 03:11pm

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Actor-writer -filmmaker James Franco will join poet Frank Bidart for a Poetry Foundation event.

Actor-writer -filmmaker James Franco will join poet Frank Bidart for a Poetry Foundation event.

Chicago’s Poetry Foundation has made it possible to combine a celebrity encounter with a serious does of poetry and “a side of film.”

In conjunction with the Chicago Humanities Festival, the Foundation will present actor-writer-director-producer James Franco, and award-winning poet Frank Bidart, in a conversation about film and poetry with Poetry Foundation president Robert Polito. The event, scheduled for Feb. 19 at 8 p.m. in the Thorne Auditorium of the Northwestern University School of Law, 375 E. Chicago, will focus on Franco’s short film, “Herbert White,” which is based on Frank Bidart’s poem of the same title.

Award-winning poet Frank Bidart published one of his most famous poems, “Herbert White,” in 1973. The speaker of the poem is a psychopathic child-murderer and necrophiliac. Franco adapted the poem for the screen, releasing the short film, “Herbert White,” in 2010. Franco’s own collection of poetry, “Directing Herbert White,” is forthcoming from Graywolf Press. Early copies of “Directing Herbert White” will be available for purchase exclusively at this event courtesy of Graywolf Press and Unabridged Bookstore.

Bidart grew up in California, entertained thoughts of becoming an actor or director when he was young, but instead discovered literature at the University of California–Riverside and later studied at Harvard. He is now the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Wellesley College. His book, “Desire,” was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. A National Book Award finalist, Bidart’s most recent book, “Metaphysical Dog” (2013), is also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Franco, the high-profile polymath, received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his role in “127 Hours,” has taught classes in filmmaking, production and screenwriting at New York University, the University of Southern California and his alma mater, the University of California, Los Angeles, and is currently a PhD candidate in English at Yale University.

Polito, the moderator of the post-film discussion, has a special interest in film noir. After the conversation, Bidart and Franco will read from their work and sign copies of their books.

For tickets ($10-$15) to this Off the Shelf program call (312) 49409509 or visit chicagohumanities.org.. Book and ticket packages are also available from $25–$30. Tickets are now on sale to CHF members. Tickets go on sale to the public at noon on Jan. 30. For additional information visit www.poetryfoundation.org/programs/event/3087