• the thought fox

2 poems from "The Kindergarten Teacher" - Ocean Vuong

The Kindergarten Teacher is a Holly wood remake of a critically acclaimed Israeli film about a kindergarten teacher who discovers that a 5 year old in her class is a prodigy who composes mature and sublime poetry. This gift surfaces early on in the film, contrasted with the teacher who has just begun to take poetry writing lessons and is working hard at her writing. Her struggle to nurture and protect the gift that she has perceived in the child, and the attempt to find meaning through the actualisation of the child’s talent is the film’s central theme. Her fascination with the young poet becomes an obsession and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s intensity as the teacher conveys the gathering sense of something miraculous that is being lost.

The film touches upon various themes felt by artists including self-belief, creative confidence, art in a world dominated by reduced attention spans and instant gratification, but also the guidance and community required to sustain the creative enterprise. While at times, the pedestalisation of poetry as a prodigious gift, and the polarity created between art and everything else does seem a bit too superficial and simplistic, arguably, this is the teacher’s vision of the world, and it only heightens the sense of isolation that she feels. In conveying the teacher’s character study, the film is spot on, but I wasn’t so convinced about the portrayal of the child genius.

The poetry for the child, who spouts the pieces almost as if he is in a trance was written by Ocean Vuong and Kaveh Akbar who had to work hard to make it simple enough to be plausible for a five year old.

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