Poetry and horror movies. At first glance, the two seem to have little in common. One’s about blood gushing and the other’s about gushing hearts. But Christoph Paul recognized a significant connection between the two—they’re both primarily interested in displaying and evoking emotion. The author of Horror Film Poems discussed this connection with WellWell, along with the unique benefits of poetry and all we have to gain from watching horror movies.
How did you develop the idea of Horror Movie Poems?
I’ve always been interested in getting people to be interested in poetry. I love it. I don’t write as much as I’d like to these days, but I love it. Being the publisher of Clash Books, we still publish a lot of poetry. And I love horror. I’ve always noticed that horror people don’t really like poetry and poetry people don’t like horror. I like to bring things together and I love doing persona poems, poems where you get to be an actor and get in someone else’s skin. So, I thought it’d be fun to get into these psychos’ skin and see where they’re coming from. I wrote a poem each week after watching the corresponding film and eventually it added up to the book.
What are the singular benefits to reading and writing poetry opposed to other mediums?
Poetry is different than fiction, and I’m speaking more as an editor and a writer right now. Poetry is spiritual, similar to singing a hymn in church, it can give you same emotional response and release. Poetry taps into something ancient opposed to fiction and stories that are more about lessons. It’s not a logical thing but when you read a great poem, it really can change you, it stays with you.
There’s a lot of references to classic horror movies, like Psycho and Halloween, but there’s also some more obscure ones, like Kevin Smith’s Tusk. What went into the process of selecting the movies to write about?
It just came down to what I was most interested in. In hindsight, I actually feel like I left a few off that I would’ve liked to include. But it was really just what I was into at the time of writing. It was all what I felt passionate about at the time. This was definitely a passion project.
What were some of the ones that you left off you would have wanted to include?
Probably some modern ones. It’s tempting to maybe do a second edition down the road. There’s been a lot of great horror that has come out over the last few years.
We recently spoke to S. A. Bradley, the author of Screaming for Pleasure, who claims horror movies are good for your health because they allow you to face your fears in a controlled environment. Do you agree with that?
Yes, absolutely. With good storytelling, you get to put yourself in somebody’s shoes and, I think, when things come down to it, we as human beings, are very primal. Horror really does deal with primal drives extremely well. I think that’s why you’re always going to have horror and it’s a safe way to deal with these drives in a healthy way.
What’s your horror comfort food? What are the movies that you always go back to?
I’m a nineties and eighties guy, that’s probably my favorite era. I love a good Nightmare On Elm Street, even the sequels. I love Hellraiser. Give me a good Jason, Friday the 13th movie. you I like that stuff a lot. In terms of newer stuff, I really liked Rob Zombie. He’s definitely good comfort horror.
Why do you think people gravitate towards horror?
I think we’re all trying to deal with these deeper questions of life and death and horror helps us face death in a way that’s more fun than maybe religion or any other avenue does. It’s a way to play with the idea without really having to think about it in a deeper way. It’s a safe way to deal with this huge question of death and what it means. Horror is a fun way to deal with the worst things that we have to deal with in existence in a lot of ways.
Do poetry and horror have any underappreciated connections or overlaps?
I think horror and poetry are both really great ways to deal with the deeper and sometimes scary aspects of life. Both really get the job done. I can feel a deep satisfaction reading poetry that deals with death or longing. These really deep emotions that if you don’t deal with you can get sick or unwell. Horror and poetry are good for you, they are a type of medicine for modern life.
If you’re just avoiding those unpleasant feelings repeatedly, whenever they come, because they always will come, you’ll be less likely to deal with them in a constructive and healthy way. I think poetry and horror both gets you in tune with the rhythms of life. Even if some of those rhythms are not fun, they’re not good rhythms but they’re still a part of life and poetry and horror help you feel them in a healthier way. The dark rhythms of life.
About Christoph Paul
Christoph Paul is an award-winning humor author. He writes non-fiction, YA, Bizarro, horror, and poetry including: The Passion of the Christoph, Great White House Volume 1 and Volume 2, Slasher Camp for Nerd Dorks, and Horror Film Poems. He is an editor for CLASH Media and CLASH Books and edited the anthologies Walk Hand in Hand Into Extinction: Stories Inspired by True Detective and This Book Ain’t Nuttin to F*%k With: A Wu-Tang Tribute Anthology. Under the pen name Mandy De Sandra, he writes Bizarro Erotica that has been covered in VICE, Huffington Post, Jezebel, and AV Club.