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Prolific poet and author Jade Sylvan is not so busy gearing up for the National Poetry Slam starting here Monday, publishing movie novelizations and gearing up for a book release to offer some advice to awkward, lovestruck male writers everywhere.
The four-minute “How Not to Write About Women: A Guide for Men,” posted today on YouTube, takes Sylvan’s poem of the same name – the full text can be read underneath the video – and gives it the funny, faux-1950s documentary style with the help of producer and editor Kenth Thompson. Rich Burns and Lauren Robbins star as the hapless poet and object of affection.
The poem and video came “in response to an unfortunate spate of unintentionally sexist poems I kept hearing at open mics,” Sylvan said.
Spoiler alert, but Sylvan winds up advising men to avoid making women feel like goddesses, saviors or icons and to instead “Write the love poem you wish someone would write for you. Not you as you wish you were. Not how you think you need to be to get women,” she says. “You. With all of your failures. With all of your scar tissue and belly fat and your drooping smile.”
The poem and video is already drawing a bit of debate online that avoiding the tropes Sylvan warns against is self-censorship “when the real problem seems to be a lack of understanding (on the part of the writer) and an oversensitivity (on the part of the listener).”