A Poet from Hollywood: Love, Insanity, Stephen Gyllenhaal, and the Creative Process // Chapter 1

Cantara Christopher
12 min readAug 19, 2022


“So, This Isn’t Some Kind of Joke”

This is the story of how I tried to turn Stephen Gyllenhaal into a famous poet, then fell in love with him, then fell out of love with him — and how Team Gyllenhaal came to its own end after that and how other things found their beginnings.

I’ll begin in New York early December 2005 with the main dilemma I had to face when my brand-new small press decided to publish Stephen’s poetry collection. I was in a Brooklyn bar having beers with Andy Laties — who’s known in the book trade as the Rebel Bookseller — where I explained it to him.

“Suppose I do manage to get a reading for Stephen at some bookstore. What I’m afraid is that the room will be packed with girls expecting to get a glimpse of Jake and they don’t buy anything.”

“Who’s Jake?” he asked.

“Stephen’s son. You know, that hot young movie actor. They’re very close. The whole family’s very close. If his dad gave a reading, Jake would come to support him. Stephen says they all would.”

To give you an idea of the time, Brokeback Mountain was about to open that Friday.

“Oh yeah, that guy. Well, that is a risk,” said Andy. “What do you think you’ll do about it?”

At that point, I didn’t know what I’d do about it. I didn’t even know if we were even going to publish his book. I’d sent Stephen the contract to sign back in September, but he insisted he never received it and that week I’d just sent him another. The only thing I knew is that from the moment we first talked on the phone a few months earlier, I’d entered into a strange relationship with him.

That was back in July when my husband Michael discovered three of his poems in a batch of submissions to the literary annual I’d been employed to edit.

“Get in here and take a look at these. This guy’s actually good,” he called to me from our kitchen, where he’d set up a makeshift office at the table to help me get through the stack of manuscripts. I came in and read them. Yes…



Cantara Christopher

Actress-writer leading visitors down the rabbit hole of the arts, sex, magick, Filipiniana, and America’s hidden history [cantarachristopher.blog]