Exclusive Q&A: Amber Tamblyn Talks Poetry and Her New Book, Bang Ditto

Amber Tamblyn was raised by beatniks and bohemians, which might explain why the TV and film star insists on spending her free time buried in books. From her earliest published poems and stories, it was clear that she takes the power of words seriously, crafting poetry and prose that is dramatic, emotionally raw, and always cliché-free. This week, she celebrates not only the launch of her much-anticipated new volume, Bang Ditto, but also the anticipated theatrical release of her new film, a remake of the classic Fritz Lang thriller Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, in which she lays down the law to Michael Douglas and Jesse Metcalfe. Flavorpill’s Shana Nys Dambrot caught up with her between hats to ask all about it.

Flavorpill: Who are your favorite poets, both your early influences and contemporaries?

Amber Tamblyn: One of my biggest influences has been poet Laureate of San Francisco, Jack Hirschman. He is responsible for getting my first poem published at the age of 12. I remember the first time I saw my own words in print. It was a magical feeling… even though they spelled my name wrong. Some poets I really admire are Derrick Brown, Noelle Kocot, Mindy Nettifee, Jeffrey McDaniel, Sherman Alexi, Diane Di Prima, Kate Braverman. The list could go on forever. Derrick is really leading the fight against bad poetry shows, making them more of a rock show and less of a trip to the cancer ward. Not that there’s anything wrong with cancer wards. Other than that’s where people usually go to die. We don’t want people to feel like they are dying when they (have to) go to a poetry show. No sir. No mas.

FP: How is your literary career received by your Hollywood colleagues?

AT: They are intrigued by it like anyone else. They are certainly more open to me writing about my life living amongst them than people who aren’t Hollywood colleagues. There is a lot of initial judgment that goes up when an actress tries to do something other than acting, let alone poetry. It is indeed a hard sell. But so was the ShamWow at first, let us not forget this. Post-Script: what the fuck is a Hollywood colleague?! This makes it sound like a club. It’s really more like a shooting range, Shana. Some days I’m the gun, others I’m the empty beer bottle waiting to be shattered. (Spit, poet!!!)

FP: Re: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt — was it intimidating to remake such a classic?

AT: I’m not sure if intimidating is the right word for this movie experience. That’s the word I’d use for Jesse Metcalfe‘s pectorals. Oh, how Grecian god he looks in this movie next to my pale Scottish pork roast of a behind. I swear that guy’s tears are made of Booty Butter Tanning Lotion. Back to the movie… I’m mildly panicked about how people will receive this film. It’s really hard to remake Fritz Lang, or anything really. I think people will enjoy it though. It’s one of the first films I’ve seen in a long time that maintains great suspense all the way through, from beginning to end.

FP: If there was one poet you felt everyone should be required read, who would it be?

AT: Diane Di Prima. Every woman — writer or not — should read her book, Recollections: My Life As A Woman. She is one of the most influential women living today. Her writing, the lifestyle she paved for herself in the ‘60s, pretty much everything about her is incredible. She’s like the Beyoncé version of Susan B. Anthony.