Amber Tamblyn

Golden Globe-nominated Actress
Acclaimed Performance Poet

Readings & Lecture Topics

  • Not-Your-Typical-Poetry-Reading
  • An Evening with Amber Tamblyn

“Amber…snarls your guts with poetry truth serum…Poems about acting and essence played out with a slash and burn humor—in a voice theatrical but totally grounded.” —Bob Holman

“Here’s a poet with the courage and liveliness to speak for her generation—and for mine. She is not afraid of politics or anti-politics of either the government or of her body, including the twists of emotional beauty and deep rage. To paraphrase Emerson, these poems are as old as the rock and as new as the foam.” —Michael McClure

Amber Tamblyn was born and raised in Venice, California, and is a third generation Californian. She has been a writer and actress since the age of 9. She has been nominated for an Emmy, Golden Globe, and Independent Spirit Award for her work in television and film. In 2007 she won the Locarno Film Festival award for Best Actress for her work in the film Stephanie Daley, in which she starred opposite actress Tilda Swinton. She came to fame on the soap opera General Hospital and is most recognized for her work as Joan on the CBS television program Joan of Arcadia. She co-starred in the 2010-2011 series of FOX’s television show House and starred in the TV series The Unusuals. In 2013, Tamblyn was selected for a role on CBS’s Two and a Half Men. Other film roles include Danny Boyle’s critically acclaimed 127 Hours, opposite James Franco, and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, among others. She appears in Horton Foote’s film Main Street (2010) opposite Colin Firth. Tamblyn had her directorial debut at the 2016 LA Film Festival with the dramatic film Paint It Black.

Amber Tamblyn is the author of three poetry collections, Dark Sparkler (Harper Perennial, 2015), Bang, Ditto (Manic D. Press, 2009), an Independent Best Seller, and Free Stallion (Simon & Schuster, 2005), her debut collection, which Lawrence Ferlinghetti called “A fine, fruitful gestation of throbbingly nascent sexuality, awakened in young new language.” The book won the Borders Book Choice Award for Breakout Writing in 2006. Currently, she is working on a collection of persona poems accompanied with paintings by Marilyn Manson about child star actresses who grew up into virtual unknowns and died young. Amber’s first published poem, “Kill Me So Much,” appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle when she was 12, having been submitted by her writing mentor Jack Hirschman (Poet Laureate of San Francisco 2009). Her poems have since been published in New York Quarterly, San Francisco Chronicle, Poets & Writers, Pank Magazine, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Interview, and others. She has self published two collections of poetry, art, and photography, Plenty Of Ships and Of The Dawn, and has collaborated with Semina Culture artist George Herms to create a limited edition book of collage and haiku dedicated to Jazz Musician Thelonious Monk entitled The Loneliest. She also has a novel, Maude, forthcoming in May 2018.

In addition to her powerful solo poetry readings, Amber also presents “Not-Your-Typical-Poetry-Reading” with her mother Bonnie Tamblyn. In their one-of-a-kind presentation, Amber reads her poems and prose from Bang Ditto while Bonnie plays guitar and sings original songs. The elements of poetry, music, singing, and witty back-talk are interwoven to create a melange of intimate and funny storytelling. In Amber’s words, “It’s a variety show wrapped inside a Vaudeville show wrapped inside a gene pool. It is a collaboration of sass, grief, triumph and sometimes (if it’s not at a school) Maker’s Mark Whiskey.” While Amber’s poems frame the small pictures of a difficult life working in Hollywood for the past fifteen years, Bonnie’s songs take on the bigger picture of life, love, and growth in general, making for an endearing and thought provoking artistic conversation that goes beyond a traditional Mother/Daughter act. These two women are best friends who have lived multiple lives-on screen and off. Their show is nothing short of a punk rock lullaby for sleeping hearts, ready to be awoken.

Amber is the Executive Producer of The Drums Inside Your Chest, an annual poetry concert that showcases outstanding contemporary poets. She is the co-founder of the nonprofit Write Now Poetry Society which works to build an audience for unique poetry events. She currently writes for The Poetry Foundation and is a poetry reviewer for Bust Magazine. Amber lives in New York City with her husband, comedian David Cross.

Amber Tamblyn’s website

Amber Tamblyn is an author, actress and director from Los Angeles. She has been nominated for an Emmy, Golden Globe and Independent Spirit Award for her work in television and film. She has three collections of poetry and prose, most recently Dark Sparkler (Harper Perennial) which explores the lives and deaths of child star actresses, with accompanying artwork by such luminaries as Marilyn Manson and David Lynch, amongst others. She also has a novel, Maude, forthcoming in May 2018. She reviews books of poetry written by women for Bust Magazine and is a contributing writer for The Poetry Foundation and visiting Woodrow Wilson Fellow. She lives in Brooklyn.

ANY MAN: A NOVEL (Novel, 2018)
Description forthcoming…

DARK SPARKLER (Poetry, 2015)
The lives of more than twenty-five actresses lost before their time—from Marilyn Monroe to Brittany Murphy—explored in a haunting, provocative new work by an acclaimed poet and actress. Amber Tamblyn is both an award-winning film and television actress and an acclaimed poet. As such she is deeply fascinated—and intimately familiar—with the toll exacted from young women whose lives are offered in sacrifice as starlets. The stories of these actresses, both famous and obscure-tragic stories of suicide, murder, obscurity, and other forms of death—inspired this empathic and emotionally charged collection of new poetic work. Featuring subjects from Marilyn Monroe and Frances Farmer to Dana Plato and Brittany Murphy—and paired with original artwork commissioned for the book by luminaries including David Lynch, Adrian Tome, Marilyn Manson, and Marcel Dzama—Dark Sparkler is a surprising and provocative collection from a young artist of wide-ranging talent, culminating in an extended, confessional epilogue of astonishing candor and poetic command.

BANG DITTO (Poetry, 2009)

“Punchy, spiky, and flush with a young writer’s love of language, the collection often deglamourizes the acting business …” —Library Journal

We’d all love to stop eating the poisonous parts of our wildness. Ever wondered what it’s like to be a celebrated Hollywood actor from the age of eleven? With insightful, no BS, cards-on-the-table poetry that is quite serious yet has fun with metaphor, imagery, and language itself, author Amber Tamblyn gives readers a backstage pass to the show inside her mind. Whether she’s describing real life info-gathering for a new prime time TV drama (“Role Research”) or addressing the crossroads of public perception and private life (“Fell Off”), Amber Tamblyn reveals questions, answers, and more in Bang Ditto, wielding metaphors mercilessly in a wry and talented voice.


I took a break from writing about the dead
and drinking from writing about the dead
to walk around my childhood neighborhood.
Everything’s for rent. Or for sale, for ten
times the amount it’s worth.

Palm trees are planted in front of a mural
of palm trees under the Ocean Park Bridge.
In the painting, the metal horses of a carousel are breaking
free and running down the beach. Why didn’t I leave

my initials in cement
in front of my parent’s apartment in the eighties?
Nikki had the right idea in ’79.

I walk by a basketball court, where men play
under the florescent butts of night’s cigarette.
I could have been any of their wives,
at home, filling different rooms in different houses
with hopeful wombs. Agreeing on paint color

samples with their mothers in mind.
I’ll bet their wives let their cats go out
hunting at night like premonitions of future sons.
They will worry, stare out the front window,
pray that privilege doesn’t bring home bad news
like some wilted head of a black girl in nascent jaws.

To say nothing of the owl who’s been here for years. I hear him

when I’m trying to write about the deaths I’ve admired.
I hear him when the clothed me no longer recognizes
the naked. I hear him while writing and shitting and sleeping
where my mother’s seven guitars sleep.
I hear him in my parent’s house,
their walls covered in my many faces,
traces of decades of complacence.

My childhood neighborhood is a shrine to my success,
and I’m a car with a bomb inside, ready
to pull up in front of it and stop

—from Dark Sparkler


I’d like to say:
As a former member of your clique
(and a current member of your representation)
I know it’s hard to be a young woman ages 18-to 24-years-old.

They put you in a time slot
that doesn’t respect your views
with a ratings system
that doesn’t respect your truths.

From one cynical self-hater-by-default to another,
please put down the magazine article that has bored you
into hair extensions and reality television.
Stop with the 20th century redux:

Make your own era. You are not out of your own league.
Fake eyelashes will not get you Ryan Gosling.
Nor will sporting a Barack Obama keychain.

No need to break all the rules:
Just bend them into balloon animals,
give them to your little brothers and sisters.
Show them how silly and cute American culture is.
Time will naturally deflate all of it.

Start mosh-pits in the crowded thoughts of tycoons:
Stir something up with your tongue.
Sip someone else’s logic then spit it out
(preferably when they’re looking).

Taste test your own style.

Get your mind into the gutter of others:

Search for the things they let go down the drain or threw away.

Everyone’s scared to tell you how they really feel.

Including Oprah.

Stop getting wasted and throwing up
your individuality outside of clubs.
There is no fast food to help you cope with that.

Leave your mark on the world
with something that can’t be chosen from
a tattoo book of Chinese symbols
for the lower back.

Pierce something other than your skin:
When I tell you to think for yourself,
don’t give a shit what I say.

—from Bang Ditto