Selected Poems

5 Best Poems About Hollywood That You Will Enjoy

Last Updated: January 23, 2023

Hollywood, the land of dreams and glamour, has long been a source of inspiration for poets. From its glitzy movie sets to its seedy underbelly, Hollywood has provided poets with a wealth of material to explore in their work. Here are five of the best poems about Hollywood that you will enjoy:

1. Daffy Duck in Hollywood by John Ashbery

Life anyway, is between. We don’t mind
Or notice any more that the sky is green, a parrot
One, but have our earnest where it chances on us,

Daffy Duck in Hollywood is written in free verse, and it describes the speaker’s feelings of confusion and disorientation in a surreal, dreamlike landscape where elements of pop culture and everyday objects are mixed with references to literary works and historical events. A feeling of alienation and a sense that the world around him is not real or is not as it seems. John Ashbery ends the poem by reflecting on the nature of time and reality, and the idea that his experiences are not entirely his own.

The language is also quite dense, with multiple references and allusions, which contributes to the sense of confusion and disorientation. The speaker muses on the thought that his experiences are not fully his own and discusses his desire for a sense of meaning or purpose in his life. He also mentions identification, time passing, and the possibility that his experience could not be real.

2. Lesbos by Sylvia Plath

I am still raw.
I say I may be back.
You know what lies are for.

Even in your Zen heaven we shan’t meet.

Lesbos refers to the woman being addressed as a former Hollywood actress, describing her past as “acting, acting for the thrill.” This implies that the woman has left her past behind, but has retained some of its superficiality and insincerity in her current domestic role. The woman is described as a “pathological liar” who is cruel and neglectful towards her child and pets, and a “kleptomaniac” who is “still raw,” which could be interpreted as a commentary on the power dynamics at play in Hollywood, where individuals often seek to exploit and manipulate others for their own gain.

Sylvia Plath has subtly mentioned through this poem the power, manipulation, and superficiality in Hollywood culture. The poem uses vivid imagery and sharp language to convey the speaker’s feelings of oppression and despair, and to comment on the ways in which a culture can shape individuals and their relationships.

3. Helen in Hollywood by Judy Grahn

and Helen
when she was an angel
when she went to Hollywood

The first section of Helen in Hollywood describes a Hollywood actress as an “angel,” with a “luminescent” and “dazzling” beauty that captures the attention of the audience. This section explores the idea of Hollywood actresses as symbols of beauty and perfection, and the ways in which society projects its desires and aspirations onto them. The second section of the poem explores the darker side of Hollywood with imagery of “dark wax,” “candle,” and “dark flesh.” while the last part of the poem describes a singer, depicted as a complex and multifaceted individual, who is more than just a product of Hollywood and its beauty standards.

Helen in Hollywood is a powerful and thought-provoking exploration of the representation of women in Hollywood and the ways in which society perceives and consumes them. Judy Grahn highlights the intricacy and multifaceted nature of Hollywood actresses, and the ways in which they are both symbols of beauty and perfection, and victims of power and exploitation.

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4. California Plush by Frank Bidart

The only thing I miss about Los Angeles

is the Hollywood Freeway at midnight, windows down and
radio blaring bearing right into the center of the city, the Capitol Tower
on the right, and beyond it, Hollywood Boulevard

Frank Bidart describes the Hollywood Freeway at midnight as being the only thing he misses about Los Angeles, highlighting the allure and glamour of Hollywood. However, as the poem progresses, the speaker delves into his past, specifically his childhood and his relationship with his father. He reflects on memories of a room done in California plush, an aesthetic that represents the excess and superficiality of Hollywood, which he finds unfamiliar and threatening.

California Plush also touches on themes of family, with the speaker mentioning a strained relationship with his father, and the struggles of the speaker’s past, including drinking and being in prison. The poem ends with a letter from the speaker’s past, from a friend asking for a job and discussing his desire to leave Bishop and his past behind. Overall, the poem illustrates the speaker’s complex relationship with their past and their identity in relation to California and Hollywood.

5. Old Hollywood by Roger Turner

She put pictures in our heads
But, now thanks to her avarice
Old Hollywood is dead…

Old Hollywood laments the death of the Hollywood of the past, specifically the golden age of Hollywood where studios like Warner Brothers, MGM, United Artists, and 20th Century Fox dominated the industry. The poet reflects on the changes in the industry and how it has been impacted by technology and corporate greed. It highlights the loss of originality in the industry, with a focus on remakes and reboots instead of generating new ideas. The poet also discusses the commercialization of the film industry and how it has become more focused on merchandising and making money rather than creating art.

The speaker reflects on how Hollywood has changed, with the rise of computer-generated imagery and the focus on financial gain rather than the art of filmmaking. Roger Turner notes the loss of Hollywood magic and paints a nostalgic picture of the past, expressing a sense of loss for the Hollywood that once was.

Final thoughts

Hollywood has always been a source of inspiration for poets and writers. These 5 best poems about Hollywood offer a glimpse into the glamour, the darkness, and the complexities of the entertainment industry. If you’re a fan of poetry and Hollywood, these works are a must-read for you. They will take you on a journey through the highs and lows of the industry, leaving you with a deeper understanding of the world of Hollywood.

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