James Franco's Inauguration Poem: He Knew Me From 'Spider-Man'

2012-06 TOWN James Franco P
Rob Kim/Newscom

An essay by James Franco, who leaves no highbrow stone unturned, appears in the winter issue of n+1. What's n+1, you ask? It's a Brooklyn-based intellectual journal that prints 10,000 copies thrice yearly and is read mostly by Ph.D. candidates and avant-garde artists.

The actor/perma-student is commissioned to pen a poem tied to Monday's swearing-in.

What the world needs now: an inauguration poem from James Franco. Because when you are looking for someone to provide poignant perspective on a historic event, you immediately think of the actor and perma-student who squeezed some time in his academic schedule to film a Justin Bieber parody and abandon Anne Hathaway onstage at the Oscars.

And so it was that Yahoo! News commissioned Franco -- who's currently "studying writing" in Asheville, N.C. -- to pen a poem tied to Monday's public presidential swearing-in at the Capitol. The meandering piece, entitled "Obama in Asheville," explores Franco's misgivings about receiving the assignment ("I was asked to write something/For the inauguration of his second term, but what could I write?") and musings on the mundane ("I went to class and then the little burrito place where they know me").

STORY: How Hollywood Gets Invited to Obama's Inauguration

Then the name-dropping begins. A choice excerpt:

I met Obama once, in D.C., the Correspondents’ Dinner.
I was the guest of Vanity Fair, guided through D.C. by the wife
Of Christopher Hitchens, when he was alive. We went to Hitch’s place,
He had books from floor to ceiling, and said he had read

To Borges, when he was blind, Old Icelandic Eddas—
Then we waited in a private room with the likes of Tom Cruise,
And Katie Holmes, and Claire Danes. When Obama entered
The crowd converged. Finally, I got to shake his hand,

He knew me from Spider-Man. I asked him for advice,
I was scheduled to give the commencement speech at UCLA
And there were some undergraduate knockers against me;
He had been denied the usual honorary degree by Arizona State

Because he hadn’t accomplished enough, so I wondered
How he dealt with detractors. He smiled his smile and said,
“Humor.” Well he’s damn right, and I wonder how much
That stand-up comedian is laughing in the face

If Franco confessed insecurity over the task of creating an Obama-themed poem, then acting-wise, he seems fairly confident that he might be able to channel the POTUS on the big screen -- even win an Oscar, Daniel Day Lewis-style. For example:

If I were to act in the film about Obama,
All I would need to get down, aside from the outer stuff—
And I know that’s important—is his essential kindness,
I’d let the writer put in all the political crap,

And the specific things that he was up against,
All that stuff on CNN and the Huffington Post,
And I’d say the lines that were written, just like Obama
Reads his lines, but what would really put the role over

Would be the goodness at its core.
That’s what will be remembered.
Yes, his race, no one will forget. But the soul too.
I’d win the Academy Award if I just captured that. 

Twitter: @ErinLCarlson

Email: erin.carlson@thr.com