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Screening of intimate portrait of poet Peter Kane Dufault to be followed by discussion with director Ethan Dufault, September 21, 2011.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—On Wednesday, September 21, the English Department at Vassar College will present a public screening of the film What I Meant to Tell You: An American Poet’s ‘State of the Union’, an intimate, unforgettable portrait of the life and work of the American poet, Peter Kane Dufault, directed by his son Ethan Dufault. Free and open to the public, the screening followed by a discussion with the director will begin at 7:30pm in Sanders Classroom Building, Spitzer Auditorium (room 212).

A World War II pilot, musician, boxer 1968 Congressional candidate, Peter Dufault writes—in the cadences of the English lyric—of his lover’s quarrel with this nation’s assault on the Law of the Land and on the land itself. The film provides a searching look at the poet’s personal joys and sorrows and is of interest to anyone concerned with democracy, peace, ecology, as well as poetry.

Through conversations with his former American History student, the actor Chris Noth (The Good Wife, Law & Order, and Sex in the City), two Poet Laureates and his son, poet Peter Kane Dufault reveals how poetry can bridge the chasms that separate us from one another and from the larger environment and political landscape. His rich language is able to articulate the American nightmare he sees and points to a path out of the predicament we are in. As he observes a colony of seals, or a hawk in a snow storm, he is able to remind us of the splendor and fragility of our world.

In the film, poet Dufault “pondered our human place in the landscape in carefully crafted poems, which he recited from memory directly into the camera. He also used his wry wit and powers of observation to level blistering political attacks on American domestic and foreign policy, or to celebrate the earth and its inhabitants,” noted film director, Ethan Dufault. He continued to say that, “One of the films virtues is (the poets) willingness to grieve the ‘piece by piece demolition,”’as he put it, of  ‘the supreme law of the land and of the land itself.’  To witness an 87-year-old poet expressing in the heightened language of verse, his anger and sadness at our nation’s illegal wars and the destruction of habitat and species was a significant event.”

In director Dufault’s opinion, “Poets no longer command the serious consideration that they once received as the ‘unacknowledged legislators of the World.’ They are still however the custodians of our collective capacity to imagine and re-imagine our place in the world, both personally and politically. I believe that this film can help bridge the chasms that separate us from one another and from the larger environment and political landscape.”

What I Meant to Tell You has been screened at film festivals here and abroad, including the Berkshire International Film Festival (2010), Charleston International Film Festival (2011), International Film Festival of Ireland (2011), New Hampshire Film Festival (2010), Rivers Edge Film Festival (2010), Swansea Bay Film Festival (2011), SURGE Film Festival (2011), and the International Film Festival of Australia. For further information, visit the film website at http://www.americanpoetmovie.com/ or ‘like’ the film on Facebook.

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations at Vassar should contact the Office of Campus Activities at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available. Directions to the Vassar campus are available at www.vassar.edu/directions.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Tuesday, September 6, 2011