'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner Records Poetry Audiobook

"I always wanted to inject my understanding of poetry into 'Mad Men,'" Weiner, who admitted to working on his "terrible accent," told THR of recording Frank Ohara's 'Lunch Poems.'
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Matthew Weiner

After Don Draper chanted his last om, ending Mad Men’s seven-season run, fans wondered what series creator Matthew Weiner would do next. It turns out he has immersed himself in … poetry?

On July 19, Audible Studios will release an audiobook version of Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems, performed by Weiner. “I’ve never recorded poetry. I’m not a performer,” he explains. But the nine-time Emmy winner wanted to pay homage to the form, given its influence on the series.

“I always wanted to inject my understanding of poetry into Mad Men,” says Weiner, who wrote a book of verse for his college thesis and continues to churn out poems to this day. “To me, it’s the most dramatic of the arts when it’s done right.”

Mad Men obsessives will recall Lunch Poems from season two, when Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm) recites O’Hara’s Meditations in an Emergency. Weiner prepared intensely for the audio reading because, he says, “I have a terrible accent. I was terrified by how embarrassingly American it would all sound.”

Though viewers never saw the brooding protagonist reading other poets, Weiner thinks Don would have been a fan of Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg and Emily Dickinson (“Advertising people — anyone who writes copy — loves Emily because she’s so terse, economical, cutting and there’s a wry smile,” Weiner notes). Betty (played by January Jones) would have enjoyed Sylvia Plath. 

During season two, Weiner even gave Jones a copy of Plath’s Ariel, which depicts a woman in an ambiguous relationship with motherhood.

Though Weiner would prefer to just talk poetry, he keeps getting asked about that mysterious $35,000 payment from Donald Trump’s campaign to a company called Draper Sterling for "web advertising" services. The vocal Democrat has remained mum. “I don’t approve of that message,” he says regarding Trump. “And that’s more than I’ve said on the subject to anyone else.”

A version of this story first appeared in the July 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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