So here’s James Franco reading his poem, “Obama in Asheville,” something that he was asked to write for President Obama’s inauguration (at least according to the poem itself). I don’t know much about poetry, especially the kind that just sounds like arrhythmic prose, but if James Franco put on a nice t-shirt and set down his A&W root beer for the occasion, it must be pretty important. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s probably the most important poem ever written to include the line “he knew me from Spiderman.”
Obama in Asheville
Asheville, North Carolina, is the birthplace of Thomas
Wolfe and the sometime residence of F. Scott Fitzgerald
When he visited Zelda at her institution;
He stayed at the Grove Park Inn, a grand stone edifice.
On the phone once, Cormac McCarthy lamented
The two added wings and the spa, and marveled
At the original structure, They pulled the stones
From the mountains and brought them down on mules.
Soon after his fortieth birthday, Fitzgerald attempted suicide
Here, but couldn’t shoot his own head, drunk, I guess.
Later, after he was actually dead, from alcohol,
Zelda perished in a fire at her institution, one of nine.
Asheville is the place where the Black Mountain College once stood
And helped birth Rauschenberg, Twombly and Johns,
Cage and Cunningham; now I think it’s a Young Men’s Christian Association.
On the wall of the Grove Park, they have pictures of the famous guests;
I’m not up there, but Obama is. I was asked to write something
For the inauguration of his second term, but what could I write?
I was in Asheville, studying writing, but not the political sort;
I write confessions and characters, and that sort of thing.