Celebrity Dream Poems by Noah Falck
Poor Claudia, 2013
Reviewed by Nathan Kemp
Noah Falck’s chapbook Celebrity Dream Poems is a series of 20, four-couplet poems named after famous people. The chapbook begins with a quote from John Berryman’s “Dream Song 14,” which reads, “Peoples bore me.” While the Berryman reference recognizes the superficial existence of celebrities, the poems take the opposite approach by reinterpreting the celebrity’s role in our culture through humor and unexpected associations.
Some of the poems are titled after expected celebrities and the associations that follow are also expected. In “Lady Gaga,” for example, Lady Gaga “[has] sex with monsters” and the poems ends with Gaga singing to “all the girls / skinny to the point of tears.”
I prefer the poems titled after politicians and pseudo-celebrities. Here is “Steve Jobs” in its entirety:
Inside my private Idaho I think out loud
in mixed fractions, in German traffic patterns.
A language created from mistakes,
mixing another version of science.
My mood ring overworked itself
at the train station where I last saw you.
Tomorrow I will send pixilated snow
as a digitized representation of our love.
Steve Jobs is a subject that creates a different kind of celebrity poem: 1. He is dead. 2. He is a celebrity with few, if any, predecessors with his clout in his field. 3. While Falck has a Bill Gates poem in Celebrity Dream Poems, it isn’t the same. Despite his death in 2011, Jobs is still more of a celebrity than Gates.
The juxtaposition of reading “Bill Clinton” after reading “Lindsay Lohan” is really what makes this chapbook for me. Falck levels the celebrity playing field and he disregards years of political service, Grammy nominations, immense athletic talent, etc. in the process. This is how Celebrity Dream Poems works so well—by boiling celebrities down to their 50-words-or-fewer biographies, Lohan’s eyes can “float down / the Hudson with all the other wishes” while Clinton “die[s] in a meadow of thought."