Sollozo por Pedro Jara (Weeping for Pedro Jara), IV by Efraín Jara Idrovo

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This is the fourth of a five-part audiovisual composition by Ecuadorian musician, composer and poet Paola Proaño for an MMus thesis at the Berklee College of Music, “An Audiovisual Approach to sollozo por pedro jara (1978) by Efraín Jara Idrovo.” Watch all five parts in order on her website, which also includes background on the poem and her composition:

Efraín Jara Idrovo (Cuenca, EC, 1926) finished this work in 1978. He wrote it for his son Pedro Jara after his suicide in 1974 at age 16. This is one of the most expressive poems I discovered thanks to an admired professor in April 2014.

Jara Idrovo’s approach to structure, rhythm and sound in this piece is unique. This work is divided into five series and each series consists of three parts. Inspired by its musicality/resemblance to musical compositional approaches, I started working in November 2015 on an audiovisual frame for this piece as part of my M.Mus. thesis. The project consisted, initially, in writing music inspired on the emotional content and avant-garde structure of this elegy and trying to find creative approaches to translate or adapt this poetic work into a composition for electric guitar. This is the “musical” element of the frame I wanted to provide for this poetry.

More information about the compositional process is available here.

In the end, these five resulting pieces are now part of five audiovisuals, which include the recitation of the poem, audio and footage editing that supports the emotional environment and English subtitles based on a translation by Dr. Cecilia Mafla Bustamante.

The purpose of my project is to make this elegy available in other “formats” and, therefore, hopefully, reach a broader audience for this beautiful poem.

For anybody interested in this elegy, I would like to share the following documents, which are available online. This is a compilation from sources cited below:

Purpose and reading instructions stated by the author (in Spanish) (screenshots of El mundo de las evidencias (1984) by Efraín Jara Idrovo available for partial preview in Google Books): Propósitos e instrucciones

Poem (in Spanish) (corrections made on online versions): sollozo por pedro jara – estructuras para una elegía

English translation by Dr. Cecilia Mafla Bustamante: Weeping for Pedro Jara – Structures for an Elegy

Proaño’s essay on her composition process is also well worth checking out. She doesn’t say anything about her process for choosing the film images, which I find generally successful, erring more on the side of arbitrariness than literal illustration. I am especially impressed by the scope and ambition of this project and the music-first approach to poetry filmmaking. At any rate, do go watch all five parts, and if the Wix site doesn’t display properly in your browser, watch them on Vimeo.

Hammersmith by Sean O’Brien (excerpts)

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This new poetry film by UK filmmaker Kate Sweeney, based on a poem by Sean O’Brien, was commissioned by the 2016 Newcastle Poetry Festival. The Vimeo description reads:

In response to extracts from Sean O’ Brien’s same-titled poem, ‘Hammersmith’ is an elegiac, hand-drawn animation sweeping through 1950’s London. drawn from the iconic cinematography from Jules Dessin’s 1950 noir film, ‘Night And The City’.

The soundtrack by Lady Caroline Mary includes a song by Bernadette Sweeney.

In the Forest by Candida Baker

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I love the abstract imagery in this videopoem by Marie Craven. It’s partly the work of the poet herself, according to Craven’s process notes in a recent blog post, “Mid-year videos 2016“:

Much closer to home, I was delighted when well-known Byron Bay writer, Candida Baker, contacted me recently with some lovely poems she thought might be of interest. She already had high quality voice recordings of her own readings, produced by Sunshine Coast musician and sound artist, Michael Whiticker, and some abstracted landscape photographs to work with as well. An attempt at creating a video poem was irresistible to me. This video, ‘In The Forest’, is the result. It is, again, a visually abstract piece. The effect of motion from still images was achieved by creating three layers, one static and two slowly zooming in opposing directions, and also by creating multi-layer dissolves between the images. I was struck by the beautiful colours of the Australian landscape that were captured in the original stills and was pleased for their colours and textures to become even more abstractly focused in the video images. The music is by Podington Bear, whose wonderful sounds I have included in videos before. These I’ve sourced from the many musical tracks available around the internet on Creative Commons license. The bird sounds are from Tai Inoue at Nature Sounds Australia in Cairns, from a download link he shared at Soundcloud with permission to re-use. The email collaboration with Candida Baker was very engaged and a joy from start to end. She and I will be meeting in person for the first time this week, when she interviews me for the online magazine she edits and publishes, Verandah. It’s rare that I have the opportunity to meet internet collaborators and I’m very much looking forward to this. The profile will appear in an issue of the magazine in the near future.

Click through to watch and read about all three of Craven’s recent videos. I just want to add that I think it’s commendable not only that Craven regularly collaborates with poets and musicians at such a high level, but also that she “shows her work” and describes her process in such detail. I wish more filmmakers and video artists would follow her example.

On the Road to the Sea by Charlotte Mew

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A wonderful dance interpretation of a poem by the early modern British writer Charlotte Mew, voiced by Alice Barclay. Zenaida Yanowski, principal dancer at the Royal Ballet in London, performs with choreography and film direction by Will Tuckett. The film represents a collaboration between Tuckett and the poetry-performing ensemble LiveCanon.

With all the dance-centered poetry films I’ve posted here over the years, I can’t remember one taking such a balletic approach before. I hope this isn’t the last.

The Translation by Brendan Constantine

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Sarah Jensen directed this adaptation of a poem by Los Angeles-based poet Brendan Constantine (which I found via his website, following a link below his excellent new poem in Rattle, “Red Sugar Blue Smoke“). Here’s the description on Vimeo:

A Hello, Margeaux Production
Written and Read by Brendan Constantine
Write Bloody Publishing
Music by Carina Pearson
Featuring Laura Whitfield and Philip Hood
Concept and Direction by Sarah Jensen
Video and Edit by Amy Hobbs

Orakel van een gevonden schoen / Oracle of a Found Shoe by Mustafa Stitou

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A new poetry film by Ukrainian director and animator Angie (Anzhela) Bogachenko featuring a poem and recitation by the Moroccan Dutch poet Mustafa Stitou, with the English translation by David Colmer in subtitles. The soundtrack includes music by Oskar Schuster.

Poema Cas’leluia & Final Brega (take dezessete) / Poem with Flying Termites & Cheesy Ending (take seventeen) by bagadefente

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An at-times quite literal but nevertheless thoroughly entertaining videopoem from bagadefente, “a brazilian self-taught multimedia artist, who creates works in several languages & media, specially video, writing & prints, using Chance and Chaos as its main creative tools.” I liked the use of text-on-screen, and the soundtrack by Dael Vasques was another favorite element (I’m a sucker for banjo music), but mostly I just liked the quirky, improvisational feel. And I see I’m not alone: According to the Vimeo description, it was screened in most of the major poetry-film festivals last year.

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