List

Movies about Poets

By Cecilia Cygnar

To celebrate National Poetry Month, try these movies to fulfill your poetic curiosity. Some films feature real-life poets, while others are about fictional poetic souls.

  • Sylvia

    2004

    Gwyneth Paltrow plays the doomed Sylvia Plath in this excellent biopic. Daniel Craig also stars as Plath's husband, Ted Hughes. A powerful film about love, writing, and suffering.

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  • Wild Nights with Emily

    2020

    Another fictionalized account of a real-life poet, Emily Dickinson. Saturday Night Live alum Molly Shannon stars as the poet, who has a troubled and tumultuous relationship with another woman.

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  • Poetic Justice

    1998

    This film comes from the mind of writer-director John Singleton, who died in 2019. Janet Jackson plays a depressed poet, and the late Tupac Shakur plays a postal worker who befriends her and eventually romances her.

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  • Young Goethe in Love

    2012

    An on-screen account of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe who, when we meet him, is an aspiring writer and failed law student. Much of this movie covers his romance with a woman who is already promised to another man.

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  • The Edge of Love

    2009

    Another fictionalized biopic, of ill-fated Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. Like Young Goethe in Love, this is mostly a romance, depicting Thomas' struggles between his wife and another woman.

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  • A Quiet Passion

    2017

    A fictionalized-but-based-in-reality account of Emily Dickinson, this time with Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon playing the reclusive poet. Unlike Wild Nights with Emily, this movie covers much of Dickinson's life, from childhood to her prolific, yet sheltered later years.

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  • Howl

    2010

    James Franco takes on the role of Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg. Much of this film is told through animation, depicting the story of Ginsberg's most famous poem, "Howl." The obscenity trial that followed after the publishing of that poem is also covered in this movie.

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  • Possession

    2002

    One of my favorite romances of all time, which also just happens to feature two incredible fictional poets: Randolph Ash and Christabel LaMotte. Their story is told through flashbacks, brought on by letters unearthed by two modern-day scholars, played by Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart.

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  • The Happy Poet

    2013

    A quirky film about a poet who starts a healthy food stand. Romance buds as he reaches out to people for business support and one of them offers more than financial backing.

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  • Shun Li and the Poet

    2013

    On a small island in the Venetian lagoon, a friendship blooms between a young Chinese woman and an older Slavic fisherman, nicknamed "the poet." Some of the island's residents find this friendship troubling, for many reasons.

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  • The Aspern Papers

    2019

    Based on the novella by Henry James, this is a romantic tale about a young 19th-century Venetian editor who is fascinated with the life of a poet from the Romantic Era. Much of the story revolves around the romance of the poet and his muse/lover.

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  • Home

    2009

    Oscar-winner Marsha Gay Harden plays a poet who is yearning to recapture her childhood. She tries to achieve this by buying a house that reminds her of her childhood home.

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