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Guide to the Amos Poe Papers, 1966-2005 MSS.203

Fales Library and Special Collections
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
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Fales Library and Special Collections

Collection processed by Rhyannon J. Rodriguez, 2009 - 2010. Finding aid completed by Ashley Todd, 2010.

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on November 22, 2016

 Record edited by Rachel Searcy to reflect 2016 accretion  , October 2016

Biographical Note

Amos Poe (Amos Jay Porges) was born in Tel Aviv in 1949, and his family emigrated to the United States in 1957. The Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia provided a source for his first photographic series in 1968. His film career began in the early 1970s, when he made his first Super-8 films and briefly worked in distribution. Poe became one of the leading figures of the No Wave Cinema Movement (1976-1985) that developed out the New York East Village music and art community, which included Jim Jarmusch, Eric Mitchell, Beth B and Scott B, Vivienne Dick, John Lurie, Becky Johnston, James Nares and Nick Zedd. This movement embraced the artistic sensibilities of the avant-garde, French New Wave, and B-Movie genres. It was also during this period that Poe contributed writing and photography to publications specific to this scene, including NY Rocker and Traveler's Digest.

As a filmmaker, Poe sites the work of Jean-Luc Godard, John Cassavettes, and Andy Warhol as primary influences. In 1975, Poe collaborated with artist Ivan Kral (bassist of The Patti Smith Group) to create "The Blank Generation," which includes early performances of Iggy Pop, Blondie, Patti Smith, Television, Richard Hell and the Heartbreakers, The Ramones, Talking Heads, and Wayne County. Beginning in 1976, Poe experimented with the theme of alienating modernity amid new environments in his next three films, "Unmade Beds," (1976) "The Foreigner," (1978) and "Subway Riders" (1981). "Unmade Beds" is an homage to Godard's "Breathless" while "The Foreigner," starring Eric Mitchell and Debbie Harry, shares sensibilities with Jim Jarmusch's "Permanent Vacation" and Susan Seidelman's "Smithereens."

Poe's most widely distributed film, "Alphabet City" (1985) starred Vincent Spano, Kate Vernon, and Jamie Gertz. It was also during this time that Poe directed music videos for artists such as Run DMC and Anthrax. During 1985-1986, Poe wrote "Rocket Gibraltar," which was Burt Lancaster's first film and Macauley Culkin, Kevin Spacey, and Bill Pullman's debut film. During 1988-1990 Poe wrote a number of unproduced screenplays including "Port of Call," "The Golden Eagle," "Mrs. Dogg," "Beach House," and "Paint It Black." The production of "Triple Bogey On A Five Par Hole" marked Poe's official return to independent filmmaking in 1990. With Dolly Hall, he produced Steven Starr's "Joey Breaker," which starred Richard Edson, Gina Gershon, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman in 1992.

1993-1994 was another prolific writing period for Poe in which he completed "Kid Killer," "La Pacifica," "The Guitar," "Lodz Seven," "The Grey Nun," "Hard on Berlin," and "The Listener." In 1994 with novelist Joel Rose, Poe co-wrote and directed Stephen Baldwin and Bai Ling in the Ed Wood inspired sci-fi fantasy, "Dead Weekend." In 1998, Poe wrote and directed "Frogs For Snakes" starring Barbara Hershey, Robbie Coltrane, Ian Hart, Debi Mazar, Harry Hamlin, Clarence William III, Lisa Marie, and John Leguizamo. In 1998-1999 Poe completed "Stunning," "To Kill An Angel," "Underage" (with Dirk Wittenborn), "Bypass" and “The Night Witches.” Also during this period, Poe directed videos for singer-songwriter Steve Earle and later directed and produced a portrait of the same artist, "Steve Earle: Just An American Boy" (2003). Current projects include an interpretation of Andy Warhol's "Empire" and an online, proactive platform for filmmakers, designers and artists called "Pianospecs." Poe resides in New York City with his wife, artist Sarah Charlesworth, and teaches screenplay development and experimental production at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.