On February 19, The Chicago Humanities Festival (CHF) and The Poetry Foundation will partner to present James Franco and Frank Bidart, Off the Shelf, an evening of poetry, film, and discussion at Thorne Auditorium, Northwestern University School of Law (375 E Chicago Ave). The program will revolve around James Franco’s film Herbert White, based on legendary poet Frank Bidart’s 1973 poem of the same name, as well as Franco’s forthcoming poetry collection, Directing Herbert White. The conversation will be moderated by Poetry Foundation president Robert Polito.

For the first time, James Franco and his hero, Frank Bidart, will take the stage together. In 1973, award-winning poet Bidart published one of his most famous poems, Herbert White. In 2010, James Franco adapted and directed it for film. Franco’s own collection of poetry, Directing Herbert White, will be released in April 2014. Exclusive, early copies of Directing Herbert White will be available for purchase at the event, provided by Graywolf Press and Unabridged Bookstore.

An acclaimed actor, director, writer and visual artist, James Franco is also the author of two works of fiction, Palo Alto and Actors Anonymous, and one work of nonfiction, A California Childhood. His newest poetry collection, Directing Herbert White, will be released in April 2014. As an actor, Franco’s breakout role was as Daniel Desario in the cult TV series Freaks and Geeks. TV credits include: the title character in the TV biographical film James Dean, for which he earned a Golden Globe Award. He has starred in several films, including Sam Raimi’s Spider Man trilogy, MilkSpring BreakersThis is the End, and 127 Hours, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Franco has taught film classes at NYU, USC and his alma mater, UCLA, and is a PhD candidate at Yale University.

“James Franco is dazzlingly original and totally out there,” said CHF Artistic Director Matti Bunzl. “Actor, director, writer—he does it all. We are excited to see what happens once he's on stage!”

Author of Watching the Spring Festival, Star DustDesire, and In the Western Night: Collected Poems 1965–90, Frank Bidart has won many prizes, including the Wallace Stevens Award and the Bollingen Prize for American Poetry. His most recent collection of poems, Metaphysical Dog, was a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award and is currently a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He teaches at Wellesley College.

An expert on mid-century American crime novels and film noir, poet and scholar Robert Polito is has edited Farber on Film: The Complete Film Writings of Manny FarberThe Selected Poems of Kenneth Fearing; and Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1930s and 1940s. His most recent poetry collection is Hollywood & God (2009). Polito earned his PhD from Harvard and served as director of Creative Writing at The New School for two decades. For more information about James Franco and Frank Bidart, Off the Shelf, visit chicagohumanities.org.
Acclaimed screen actor, director, writer and visual artist James Franco (photo courtesy of The Chicago Poetry Foundation)..

James Franco to Share Stage with Legendary Inspiration, Frank Bidart