In a recent interview with the British newspaper The Guardian, Daniel Radcliffe--best known for playing Harry Potter on the big screen-- revealed that he writes poetry, explaining that "as an actor, there is room for a certain amount of creativity, but you're always ultimately going to be saying somebody else's words." Poetry gives him the chance to speak his own.
For someone so young, Radcliffe has surprisingly strong opinions about the art, saying of contemporary poetry, that it "irritates me...sometimes free verse, for me, is for people who can't do structure. And when I don't write in form and metre, I become unbearably self-indulgent. It's what Robert Frost said: free verse is like playing tennis with the net down."
Of far more interest to the British press was Radcliffe's admission that he once published a few poems under a pen name. And while he didn't offer up the poems, exactly, he left enough clues for the savvy interviewer to figure it out. He soon discovered that Radcliffe once published four poems under the pen name Jacob Gershon in the 2007 edition of Rubbish magazine, a small publication that describes itself as "a playful platform for fashionable people". The press, of course, scrambled to track down Radcliffe's work.
The Daily Mail was able to get its hands on one of the poems. "Away Days," is written from the point of view of a cheating husband. It is formal, though I'm not sure Frost would approve of Radcliffe's "net" (the rhythms are a little messy). Also, I couldn't help but laugh when I read the first line. I saw part of Radcliffe's episode of "Inside the Actor's Studio," wherein he mentioned that verdurous--which means "freshly green" or "verdant" (it's seldom used anymore)--was his favorite word. Keats famously used it in "Ode to a Nightingale" in the line "Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways." Radcliffe apparently couldn't wait to use it himself.
Beside these verdurous and wind-blown fronds
I lie with two long-legged, glistening blondes.
The wisps of comb-over that I call hair
Are slowly bleaching in the sunlit air
That's also turning orange the skin I wear.
The wife thinks I'm on some dull business trip!
'Poor bitch,' I think and take another sip
Of sweet champagne with no hint of remorse.
I mean why would you bother with divorce?
It's so much easier to slip away
And put a week aside so you can play
Without the chance of ever getting caught
And leaving her and Robert so distraught
That they would never speak to me again.
What is the point in causing all that pain?
It's better to protect your son and wife
And casually build up a secret life...
Soon they will want their money and I'll pay,
Oh, but who cares? I make five grand a day!
My buzzing phone reminds me of this trick,
I tell her I'm busy, my God she's thick.
She always just accepts, never inquires.
Which is just what I want with my desires,
To sweep off suddenly Overseas
And **** whoever I bloody well please.
In every port a new exotic squeeze
And I mean it when I say exotic,
My carnal exploits have been quite quixotic!...
No doubt I'd be incapable of saying it,
But I don't mind if there's no trouble paying it.
Too soon I'll go back to my family
And enter through the door and there will see
The trusting faces of my wife and child
Whom, without their knowledge, I have defiled
With hookers and lies and sordid relationships
On various and frequent business trips.
My wife sweetly smiles and her eyes seem glad
My son gives me a hug and says: 'I've missed you, dad.'
Radcliffe, responding to the poem's second publication, told a reporter at the website Teletext that the work is "not necessarily my best," adding, "I hope you enjoy it and don't judge me too harshly." Daily Mail literary critic Lloyd Evans, at least, followed the young writer's advice. While he noted that Radcliffe's "grasp of rhythm is rather shaky," he went on to praise him effusively:
...his ability to create a complex dramatic character is surprisingly good. The voice of the middle-aged adulterer seems authentic and the poem's conclusion is both affectionate and yet full of tension and possible future conflict.
This is a dark and perceptive examination of self-indulgence and hypocrisy.
Now, I think it's poor form to publicly criticize a 17-year-old's poetry (Radcliffe's age when he published it), but that last bit is ridiculous--far more entertaining than the poem. I think that "Away Days" does show Radcliffe to be creative and sharp, and certainly not shy.
Radcliffe's other poems are reportedly about the British reality competition Pop Idol, Pete Doherty, and seducing women (seriously). If you can track them down, the British Press just might be interested.