A look at: Directing Herbert White

Hey! So last Wednesday I wanted to talk to you about Directing Herbert White by James Franco, which is a short collection of poetry. This was actually the first collection of poetry I read and I loved it very much. Today I just want to explain why I love this collection and to also share my favourite poem from the collection with you. Next Wednesday I hope to share with you a poem I wrote inspired by this collection!


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 as a James Franco fan. The poems seemed more relatable/real than any others 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 a wide variety of poetic techniques and sophisticated vocabulary, 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 pretentious rubbish that I have come across before in some poetry. I would just like to say that I have the highest amount of respect for poetry and I do think most poetry is wonderful! The reason I particularly love ‘Because’ is that the poem conveyed so much emotion- it felt really raw, sort of bitter. I think all of the poems in the collection 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. I suppose the wonderful thing about poetry is that everyone can interpret it differently!

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.


Love, Sydney


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