SANTA MONICA, Calif. — “It’s scary when you hear an actress is going to put out a poetry book,” concedes Amber Tamblyn, an actress who is putting out her first book of poetry, “Free Stallion” (Simon & Schuster), on Sept. 1. “Those words — pain, death, passion — come out too much in a lot of writer’s poetry. But you have to be able to say, ‘I hate him’ in 50,000 ways.”
It’s part in jest that the 22-year-old rising star says this. Between her six-year stint on “General Hospital” and two years on “Joan of Arcadia,” the self-effacing Tamblyn not only discovered pain, death and passion, but a voice to articulate those emotions beyond acting.
Many of the poems were inked during the filming for this summer’s “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.” The “new presence” in her poetry even “shocked” her mentor, beat poet Jack Hirschman, who wrote the book’s intro.
Tamblyn can’t recall which came first, acting or writing, but both were encouraged at SMASH, the experimental Santa Monica Alternative School House, which she attended for nine years.
She does, however, remember the defining moment: While watching a lambasting on the plight of the homeless by Hirschman, a longtime pal of her father, actor-artist Russ Tamblyn. His circle includes Neil Young, Dennis Hopper and Dean Stockwell.
“I was 12 and it was the first time I realized I was affected by a poem. I tried to emulate the style, to write a call to his words,” says Tamblyn. She opens the book with the resulting “Kill Me So Much.”
Sure she was young when she wrote some of the 30 works included. That said, Tamblyn adamantly insists that “among all honest writers, there is no such thing as juvenilia. You have to take yourself out of that context of age and realize it is right for that time.”
On a recent Sunday night, at the red-lit Temple bar in Santa Monica, Tamblyn is among the featured readers during an evening that teeters between authentic inspiration and unintentional parody. Even when she takes the mike alongside jazz bassist Roberto Miranda the result is neither trite nor forced. This is one actress who can claim to be a poet, too.
“It’s good to show people a wide perspective of who you are.”