Frangipani Grove by Cindy St. Onge

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Nic Sebastian has remixed a video of a horse and rider by Gregory Latham with a Poetry Storehouse poem about what endures after the death of planets by Cindy St. Onge. Somehow it works—for me, at any rate. I’m not crazy about the music (which is by David Mackey) and I think I might’ve preferred St. Onge’s own reading at the Storehouse to Sebastian’s. But the juxtaposition of images is strong and surprising enough to make up for that.

Sueños Culinarios (Culinary Dreams) by Pedro Mercado

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This is Sogni Culinari, a humorous, surreal poetry film by Venezuelan director Clarissa Duque and AWA Producciones, based on a poem by her friend Pedro Mercado. The actors are Nabilia Gąnem and Javier Figuera, and the recitation is by Luigi Sciamanna. The Italian translation is by Marco Baldo and the English by Lorenzo Duque. There’s also a version with subtitles in the original Spanish.

For the full credits, see Vimeo or the film’s own website. Sogni Culinari also has a Facebook page and a Twitter account (which is how I found out about it). It’s kind of cool to see a surrealistic short getting this much promotion and publicity. And why not? It’s very well done, and they clearly spared no effort in the production. Duque talked about it on the blog Directors Notes. I was especially interested to hear how her script expanded on the text with details from her own dreams:

The idea for Sogni Culinary began once I read a poem written by my friend Pedro Mercado. That poem is recited exactly as in the original by the character of the dreaming man as voice over throughout the film. The very first time I listened to the poem, I felt bombarded by different images and sensations. One of the first ones that came up in my mind was that feeling when a great love breaks your heart and leaves it behind like pieces of waste laying on the ground. Everybody has felt at least once in their life that terrible sensation of emptiness produced by an unrequited love.

Alongside that is my passion for the culinary arts. I learned when I was still a child how every single ingredient of a dish is like a magic recipe, itself capable of activating every human sense and evoking all kinds of sensations in the human body. My father, a great cook, always used his skill as a tool to get what he desired. He was able to close great deals after his partners, captivated by the sensitivity and power of his food, would accept any proposition my father made to them. Never the less, he also managed so many times to solve romantic problems with delicious banquets. I always thought that he was a kind of magician. With time, I understood that love and food, even though they can also be my weakest points, will always be the greatest passions in my life.

Since my childhood, my oneiric world has been very intense. I wake up from nightmares very often where I am a fish and I end up dying asphyxiated outside of the fishbowl. The people around me, trying to calm me down always tell me “It was just a dream”. Therefore, this time with my new short film I couldn’t miss the opportunity to transmit not only my two greatest passions in life (Love and Food) but also a part of my own oneiric world. I have to confess, filming the scene of the fish was very stressful, even more so because lately I’ve been working for animal rights.

The production of Sogni Culinary was just wonderful. It was January 2015 and we didn’t have any money but we were all looking forward to starting the new year working on a new project, but not those that you don’t like but take to pay the rent. We actually wanted to start working on a project that you get really passionate about and involved with. We wanted to make cinema, so I gathered a group of friends and proposed that we start working without a budget but all together for this culinary dream. Luckily, everything that was needed came along. Rental company Pata Negra let us use a Red One camera, an optic kit, a dolly and lights with all their accessories. As we say in Venezuela “Now we got all the toys”. The crew from Artecomestible made the food makeup which was very rigorous work with lots of attention to detail. The shooting was very pleasant, even though it lasted for a very long day from 6.00am in the morning till 2.00am of the following day. Actually, we’re a tight crew so, when we are at work filming on the plateau, we feel like a fish in the water (literally).

Filming real food can turn out to be a very difficult art. The hardest shot we did was with the meatball, trying to make it bleed in a Tarantinoesque style. The hose placed inside the meatball got blocked many times by the fork, then we had to shoot it several times until it finally worked and looked just as I had dreamed. We knew from the beginning that we could achieve all the special effects that we wanted in post-production. For example; the water falling down from the paintings hung on the walls. Glendis Lopez and I have worked together in art direction many times and now we know that we don’t want to lose the sense of reality and handcraft in our productions. We like to keep the old school style. Still, it was very complicated for her and Filou Frechou to build the scenography with the system of pipes behind the walls but as expected, it turned out to work perfectly and we only had to repeat the shots twice.

Read the rest (and watch the “making of” video).

Late Fragment by Raymond Carver

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This is Último Fragmento, Spanish director Eduardo Yagüe‘s film based on a brief poem by Raymond Carver. The actors are Pau Vegas and Faustino Fernández, and the music is by Swoon. It’s the final film in a series of eight that Yagüe calls La Luz Tenaz.

LA LUZ TENAZ es una serie de ocho vídeos en los que investigo con los lenguajes de la poesía, el cine, la actuación, la música, la fotografía… Mezclo los géneros, experimento, busco la manera de contar las historias que los poemas que uso como inspiración me sugieren, creando una obra nueva y personal.
[THE TENACIOUS LIGHT is a series of eight videos in which I investigate the language of poetry, film, acting, music, photography… I mix genres, experiment, look for ways to tell the stories that the poems I use as inspiration suggest to me, creating a new and personal work.]

Poem Looked Up On Google Streetview by Ross Sutherland

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Here’s an approach to videopoetry that I’ve never seen before: using Google Street View as a poetry prompt, then turning screen grabs of the prompt location into a visual accompaniment to a recitation of the poem. Or, as Ross Sutherland rather more eloquently explains it in the description on Vimeo:

Few years ago, I was commissioned to write a poem about “living in London and being a Londoner”.
I don’t live in London. But I also don’t like to disappoint people.

I took the little Google Streetview man, dropped him into London, then wrote about the street he landed in. The result was this poem, which ended up in my 2012 collection, Emergency Window.

The video was uploaded by The Poetry School, where Sutherland is currently the digital poet in residence.

For his residency – ’30 Videos / 30 Poems’ – Ross will create thirty new films over March to April 2015, while he tours across the UK with his show Standby For Tape Backup. Each new film will be a synthesis of poetry and video, exploring the different ways that the two mediums can shape and influence the other. Ross will use his residency to respond to the places he visits and the people he meets while on tour, hence, the project also doubles as a video diary of a working poet in the world.

This is the 10th (and latest) of these videos. (Watch the others on Vimeo.) In three additional videos, Sutherland “answers questions about his ’30 Poems / 30 Videos’ project, the distinctions between film poetry and poetry film, and what all this writing lark is about anyway.”

For more on Ross Sutherland, see his page at The Poetry Archive.

Death Meditation by A.M. Thompson

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This is the second of two films by Marie Craven using Poetry Storehouse poems by A.M. Thompson. (I also liked the first, Unavoidable Alchemy, but felt that it ended too abruptly.) Here she has used footage by Mollie Mills, guitar music by Josh Woodward and a voiceover by Nic Sebastian to create a surprisingly upbeat video remix. I’ll let viewers decide whether it succeeds, but I salute its boldness as an experiment in confounding expectations. (Read the text.)

Common Room by Talia Randall

This animation of a poem by UK artist and performance poet Talia Randall was one of the 29 competition films (selected from among 770 submissions) at the 7th ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival last October. It’s also a staff pick at Vimeo, where it’s amassed more than 58 thousand plays. Here’s the description at Randall’s website:

The Common Room Animation Project is a collaboration between 13 animators, based on Talia Randall’s spoken-word poem Common Room. Each of the animators chose a segment of the poem that inspired them the most, and brought their own unique style, technique and interpretation to the poem.

The film has been shown at film festivals and events across the world including Argentina, Germany, Brazil, Russia, America and the UK.

The animators are (in order of appearance) Yael Ozsinay, Nir Philosof, Maayan Moreno Erlich, Shimi Asresay, Inabl Breda, Noa Evron, Inbal Ochyon, Yuzefovic Valery, Dekel Oved, Adva Rodan, Dan Berger, Sivan Kotek and Tal Rachmin.

(Click through to read the text.) Watching this again, I’m even more impressed than I was the first time I saw it, on the big screen in Berlin. It’s like a master class in poetry animation; very few of the quite distinct segments veer too close to literal illustration. Instead, they each expand upon the text in a different way, yet somehow we are not distracted from the poem’s argument and music. And it’s the sort of poem that really benefits from this kind of treatment, having a strong message and a fairly discursive style. Had it been denser and more allusive in the manner of much contemporary lyric poetry, I don’t think it would’ve so easily permitted the animators’ imaginations to run riot. In effect, they are supplying much of the allusive power here, in a sort of conversation among artists that makes the whole succeed as something greater than the sum of its parts: a true videopoem or filmpoem, in other words, and not merely a poetry film.

Facing the Wall by Laura M Kaminski

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A Swoon film from five months ago that I somehow forgot to share until now. Laura M Kaminski‘s text (from The Poetry Storehouse) is meditative enough to make the slow revealing of lines work here. You’ll probably need to watch the video in HD in order to read them all, though. The poem appears in Kaminski’s 2014 collection last penny the sun (which I happen to own, and recommend highly).

Swoon (Marc Neys) shared some process notes on his blog, as he usually does. Here’s an excerpt:

This poem felt perfect for another film composition (rather than an audible videopoem), so I started with constructing a (longer) soundscape;

[listen on SoundCloud]

During my trip to Bristol I filmed some close ups and details of walls. Footage that fitted perfectly together with other recently filmed images. A search through IICADOM and Videoblocks completed the collection process.
After that came the fun part. Combining lines from the poem with the suitable footage, trying out different fonts and sizes for the text on screen, placement of words… It’s a puzzling way of editing.
I’m not only editing film anymore, I’m carefully trying to blend sound, image and text in one edit. It feels more like composing. It makes me rethink the way I worked (and still work) with audible videopoems.

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