Ceri’s Updates/Reviews (#22)

Hey! Sorry I haven’t been posting recently but it was my birthday and then I went to Disneyland! I had no wifi at all the whole time, but that was the only bad thing really.

Today I shall be reviewing Directing Herbert White by James Franco, which is a short collection of poetry- this was a much loved birthday present from Katherine 😉


Directing Herbert White is the debut poetry collection by the actor, director, and writer James Franco.

I’m a nocturnal creature,

And I’m here to cheat time.

You can see time and exhaustion

Taking pay from my face—


In fifty years

My sleep will be death,

I’ll go like the rest,

But I’ll have played

All the games and all the roles.

     —from “Nocturnal”


The reason I chose to read this book was because James Franco had written it and I’m slightly obsessed with the Franco brothers. I wasn’t aware until finishing the book that many people thought the poems were awful. Having read many reviews dissing Franco as a poet; I have to say I completely disagree.

I am not an expert on poetry, but that does not make me enjoy and understand the basic meaning of the poem any less. In fact, I very much enjoyed the poems and I’m saying that as a poetry reader not a James Franco fan. The poems seemed more relatable/real than any other I’ve ever read. They were not pretentious in any way- so anybody could read them. Maybe people didn’t like them because they didn’t have all these poetic techniques or whatever, but I think poems are about expressing yourself and James certainly did that. He even expressed vulnerability, which I never expected to see from Franco.

In this book I discovered my now favourite poem called ‘Because’. This is the first poem in the book and I immediately loved it because it was so different to anything else; you couldn’t compare it. The language is how people actually talk in real life, it’s not a load of fancy words that don’t even make sense. This poem conveyed so much emotion- it felt really raw, sort of bitter. I think all the poems allow us to see the different layers to James’s personality, plus I don’t think he’s holding anything back. The passion in each poem is clear, you can tell he freely wrote the poems down with all of his emotions.

I found it interesting that in the poem ‘Fake’, he wrote:

there is a fake version of me

and he’s the one that writes

these poems

I can imagine doing a very vigorous analysis of this in English. Those few lines capture so much of James as a person. Sometimes I felt like there was a double meaning to his poems, but I’m not sure if I was reading into it too much. It is still easy to understand though. That was the probably the main reason why I like this book so much!

Below is my favourite poem- Because By James Franco.

Bye for now!




Because I played a knight,

And I was on a screen,

Because I made a million dollars,

Because I was handsome,

Because I had a nice car,

A bunch of girls seemed to like me.


But I never met those girls,

I only heard about them.

The only people I saw were the ones who hated me,

And there were so many of those people.

It was easy to forget about the people who I heard

Like me, and shit, they were all fucking fourteen-year-olds.


And I holed up in my place and read my life away,

I watched a million movies, twice,

And I didn’t understand them any better.


But because I played a knight,

Because I was handsome,


This was the life I made for myself.


Years later, I decided to look at what I had made,

And I watched myself in all the old movies, and I hated that guy I saw.


But he’s the one who stayed after I died.


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