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Amber Alert

Newbie poet (and teen hero) Amber Tamblyn versifies on Les Moonves, Dick Cheney, and the celebrity-industrial complex.

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Who knew that the star of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and CBS’s Joan of Arcadia identified so strongly with the proletariat? In Free Stallion, a book of poetry published this month by Amber Tamblyn, 22, the oppressor is big business, the celebrity system, and “rich men with their cannons blowing off.” She nods to Johnny Rotten in the prologue (“the best you can be in a positively backwards world is absolutely negative”), asks of a hypothetical Hollywood chauvinist, “How am I to fit into your bulimia?/ Don’t know what else to tell you—I love pizza,” and continues with her blue-state lyricism from there.

In your poem “Pax Vobiscum (A Last Love Song for Woody Guthrie),” you write that you dreamed that you two made out. For real?
No, not really—though that would have been hot. Guthrie was and is the clarion. He was part of a time when people used their music and talent to stand for something. Look at Guthrie and 50 Cent: They do come from the same poverty. But one of them came under pressure from the culture and conforms to that, and one of them died struggling.

You write about wanting Mother Earth to “deliver rapid spankings to those white asses,” primarily Gale Norton’s, Dick Cheney’s, and Samuel Bodman’s. What made you an environmentalist?
There was a little issue on Joan of Arcadia with Good Girl Friday chastising Dick Cheney. Then I went to see an amazing discussion with Robert Kennedy Jr., then I read his book, and right afterward I read Fast Food Nation. That book changed my life: It made me a vegetarian.

Were you upset about Joan of Arcadia’s getting canceled?
I was upset that our Emmy-nominated show was starring the Duff sisters [in its last season]. Those girls are very sweet, but they’re not what our show was made of. It’s what Les Moonves wanted, and he got what he wanted. He got a show that tanked.

Do you write poems on set?
When you’re going to write a poem, it’s almost like having a baby—there’s no stopping it. I had to learn how to form an agreement with my muse, to write at times that were appropriate. I sat on set a lot with a piece of paper, and when we started shooting, I just stuck it in my back pocket.

Do you hang out with other celebrities?
Celebrity is anthropomorphism on steroids. It’s people trying to generate a stronger, more resilient, more powerful, more sexual image of who they are. Most celebrities will go down as interesting, and they’re not. I want to hang out with interesting people who will elevate who I am as a human being. I don’t want to be sitting next to my Sidekick buddies at a dinner table.

Your dad, Russ Tamblyn, starred in movie musicals like West Side Story, and he played Dr. Lawrence Jacoby on Twin Peaks. Did you hang out with that cast?
Yeah, at the wrap party I had the entire cast sign my shoes. I went around like an annoying brat, and every single person did it. Then my mom took them and put them in a safe. I was so pissed: I didn’t understand why I couldn’t wear them to school the next day.

Do you ever go to Hollywood events with him?
He likes to keep under wraps, but sometimes I drag him onto the red carpet. He still gets offers for things, and he says no. I met David LaChapelle, and he wanted to put him in a video. My dad was like, “Um, I think it’s my nap time.”

Free Stallion: Poems
Amber Tamblyn
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
96 pages. $14.95.


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