Filmmaker and television producer John Scott is working on a feature-length documentary called Elizabeth Bishop and the Art of Losing, which will include a number of videos like this one illustrating her poems. He wrote about the project at length for the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary blog.
Each scene will end on a poem whose inspiration comes from the tensions of the time period being described. And thus the poetry will not only be an aesthetically pleasing and rewarding study of genius, it will deepen the emotional content of her life-story.
I learned about the project from a feature at VidPoFilm back on Nov. 18. Brenda Clews sent Scott a couple questions via email. Quoting from his answers:
I am not interested solely in being illustrative — I am interested in at times being playful with the way the visuals/sounds and the words come together in an effort to use the expressive powers of visuals and sounds. There’s lots of potential in the medium itself that I think might otherwise be lost if it is simply slaved word for word to the text. […]
I believe the beauty of Bishop’s poetry is that it is so loaded with the spirit of the moment, in the fragmentary, in the lush, in the juxtaposition of contrasting images and in the point of view of its subjects.
“Sandpiper” is a poem that was written by Elizabeth Bishop in 1965 and it is believed that it was based on observations she made on a trip she made as an adult back to Nova Scotia. Bishop’s adult life took her in many directions and places, and she has explicitly compared herself to the sandpiper and (presumably) both of their quests to endlessly seek (enlightenment?) through careful observation.