Poets of Queens: Lynne Sachs – Featured Poet

Poets of Queens
Featured Poet
November 2021

Since the 1980s, Lynne Sachs has created cinematic works that defy genre through the use of hybrid forms and collaboration, incorporating elements of the essay film, collage, performance, documentary and poetry. Her films explore the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences. With each project, Lynne investigates the implicit connection between the body, the camera, and the materiality of film itself.

Lynne discovered her love of filmmaking while living in San Francisco. During this time, she produced her early, experimental works on celluloid which took a feminist approach to the creation of images and writing— a commitment which has grounded her work ever since.

From essay films to hybrid docs to diaristic shorts, Sachs has produced 40 films as well as numerous projects for web, installation, and performance. She has tackled topics near and far, often addressing the challenge of translation — from one language to another or from spoken work to image. These tensions were investigated most explicitly between 1994 and 2006, when Lynne produced five essay films that took her to sites affected by international war–where she looked at the space between a community’s collective memory and her own subjective perceptions. 

Over her career, Sachs has been awarded support from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NYFA, and Jerome Foundation. Her films have screened at the Museum of Modern Art, Wexner Center, the Walker the Getty, New York Film Festival, and Sundance. In 2021, Edison Film Festival and Prismatic Ground Film Festival at Maysles Documentary Center awarded Lynne for her body of work.

Lynne is also deeply engaged with poetry. In 2019, Tender Buttons Press published her first book Year by Year Poems. In 2020 and 2021, Lynne taught film and poetry workshops at Beyond Baroque, Flowchart Foundation, San Francisco Public Library, and Hunter.

Lynne’s work in Queens:

Lynne recently completed the seven minute poetry film “Swerve”, a collaboration with former Queens Poet Laureate (2010 – 2014) Paolo Javier completely shot in Queens!

The first time she read Paolo’s sonnets in his new book O.B.B. aka The Original Brown Boy, she started to hear them in her head, cinematically. In her imagination, each of his 14 line poems became the vernacular expressions of people walking through a food market full of distinct restaurant stalls. She re-watched Wong Kar-wai’s “Happy Together” – a favorite of both of theirs – and immediately thought of the Hong Kong Food Court in Elmhurst, Queens, a gathering spot for immigrant and working class people from the neighborhood who love good cuisine. As we all know, restaurant owners and workers experienced enormous economic hardship during New York City’s pandemic. Nevertheless, the market and the playground across the street become vital locations for the shooting of Lynne’s film inspired by Paolo’s exhilarating writing. Together, they invited performers and artists Emmey Catedral, ray ferriera, Jeff Preiss, Inney Prekash, and Juliana Sass to participate in a challenging yet playful endeavor. Each performer devours Paolo’s sonnets along with a meal from one of the market vendors. Wearing the tell-tale masks of our daunting now, they speak his words as both dialogue and monologue. Like Lucretius’s ancient poem De rerum natura/ On the Nature of Things, they move through the market as Epicureans, searching for something to eat and knowing that finding the right morsel might very well deliver a new sensation. The camera records it all. “Swerve” then becomes an ars poetica/ cinematica, a seven-minute meditation on writing and making images in the liminal space between a global pandemic and what might come next.

Previously published in Ice Floe Press

Anchored (for my mother Diane)

Caught in a framework.
Inscribed by the parameters of our misgivings.
Trapped in the mess that defines us.

You, a masked unarmed responder to
other’s calamity, a listener
to a tribute from a muted trumpet,
relishing stories pulled through
one ear
out the other.

In spite of everything, nowhere to go,
I celebrate your ability to turn routine into ritual,
you put on orange pink pastel
lipstick, run a comb
through your hair,
turn on Zoom,
catch five o’ clock sun on your cheeks.

Savoring a dinner party
that doesn’t happen.
The taste for a camp song you once knew and still love.
A pile of linen napkins thrown into the machine.
Oh, for the time when a wrinkle mattered.

A chuckle
A sigh.
Just the same.
The house at 3880.

I am there with you.
And not.
In the beginning,
not so far from the end.

The mailbox at the end of the driveway
wobbly, yet somehow firm,
sole receiver left in a zone of closures.

21 years between your birth in ‘39 and mine in ’61,
still thrilled by your attentions,
countless appreciations,
and your propensity, and willingness
to listen to those things
that launch my soul each morning.
You are so pretty, I tell you.

Outside your window,
a green lawn, mowed
and below, the remains
of a swimming pool, dirt filled,
where I spent summers hosting
watery tea parties, blowing bubbles,
kissing the rim of a shared cup,
watching you from below, refracted and wise,
wondering how long I could hold

Beside the cracked cement driveway,
a fourteen-foot camellia
pink smoke emanating from a chimney of
Not knowing a camellia is conspicuously absent of scent,
I draw in air.

Walking alone, one morning,
you take note of a
a ranch-style house with carport
at the end of the block,
on a cove, under two large oaks —
you somehow sense a neighbor’s anguish,

For 18 months, we’ve
walked, around and around and
back again.
Phones in pockets.
Cables in ears.
We talk, wonder, move on
in our way.

In the car, voices of all the people
who fill your head,
their mysteries and narratives,
your music.

I fear for you but not so much,
anchored to ground,
not underwater.

And there, too
the man you love
wanting nothing more than to feed you
not so much what you need,
but what you relish.
Not just a meal, but daily dining.

Together, you face the contagion
no one sees,
like the wind, always present, felt.

A time to spend with things –

Inside a decrepit album
you find a photo of Granny smoking a pipe,
dressed as a man –
you wisely giggle, utter of course.

And an article
saved and snipped,
concerning your grandmother’s father,
my great-great
an officer in the provisions wing of the US Confederacy,
and a Jew.
It couldn’t be, but there it is.
Now we know. We know for sure.
Heard it before, and didn’t.

A fragment of fact,
teased out, discussed, denied —
a story with weight
and then
resurfaces in a telephone conversation
from the hollow of quarantine
into our fraught and daunting now.
It couldn’t be grasped and there it is.
So clear.

Despite it all, you –
no longer
the eternal optimist
still drift toward light.


Poets of Queens creates a community for poetry in Queens and beyond. 

Readings create a connection between a diverse group of poets and an audience. In 2020 an anthology of poetry by a group of twenty-five poets was published. This paved the way for Poets of Queens to start to publish individual collections to help poets connect to their community through their work. Connections are furthered when visual artists respond to poets and poets respond to visual artists as part of special projects. Poets also become mentors and teachers to fellow poets in all stages of their careers, strengthening community.