When I attended Camille Rankine’s reading this past week, I distinctly remember her talking about watching The Avengers, and how one of the lines stuck with her, while the movie didn’t. She used Loki’s “I am burdened with glorious purpose” line, and I remember that as she read it, I couldn’t help but smile. The Avengers and the fans of The Avengers online have used that line and GIFs from that scene to express anything from mild pride to feelings of intense social anxiety, and while this isn’t anywhere near where Camille Rankine was going, I can’t help but let my preconceived ideas about that scene/line into her poem. Is it worth it to use a line, such a memorable line, from some other kind of media to write a poem, or does it overshadow the poem? If I hadn’t watched The Avengers, I wouldn’t have any idea and I probably would have applauded that line, but as it is, I can only think about the movie and the scenes it links to.
In recent workshops, we’ve seen pieces worked around song lyrics, and with zero knowledge of Bruce Springsteen, I enjoyed the poem, but it seemed to have a different affect on readers who knew the song and the story attached. I think that Camille Rankine’s poem was similar, and while I really believe in the power of art to inspire more art, I myself am unsure whether I would take such a risk in my poetry.