There is a vision of power at the center of James Franco's first chapbook of poems, Strongest of the Litter. Power here is both generative and frightening, self-consuming and bracing. It is the artist's power of self-making. These poems, thoroughly beautiful and spare, have the texture of contending angles. Authenticity can be achieved only through different voices: in an investigation of the range and strength of American art, in homage to Williams Carlos Williams, in awe at the cost to American actors of their art (notably Taylor, Clift, De Niro and Brando), in the celebration and limitation of Kowalski love - "I'm a raging Kowalski whose / Temper can be measured by // How little I can give. / How abusive my reticence." Pervasive in these eloquent poems is the power of memory, the collective memory of Hollywood and specific memories of the poet's own past.
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October 2012 : USA Paperback