Deze zachte witte kamer / Our padded white rooms: six poems by Runa Svetlikova

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Belgian poet Runa Svetlikova‘s collection, Deze zachte witte kamer, has just won the 2015 Herman de Coninck Debut Prize. Here’s a film Swoon (Marc Neys) made a few months ago with help from the Spanish filmmaker Eduardo Yagüe. (Be sure to watch on a laptop or desktop computer and expand to full screen so the English subtitles are legible.) Marc described their process in a blog post:

Early this summer Runa Svetlikova asked me if I would be interested in creating a video for some poems from her debut ‘Deze zachte witte kamer’ (Uitgeverij Marmer, 2014)
“The beating heart of that new collection is a series of six poems that would fit perfectly in one video”
She was right.

The collection appears to consist of no more than a handful of atoms that randomly traverse space. Against that cosmic and sometimes comical background Runa explores the alienation she feels at the birth of a child, the difficult maintenance of a love without knowing whether there is such a thing as love, the urge to give a voice to a dead father… Yet the poems do tell a story. Especially the middle six; Vogeltje / Birdie – Verzorging / Care – Habitat / Habitat – Classificatie / Classification – Conceptie / Conception – Draagtijd / Gestation.

[…]

For this project I asked the help of Eduardo Yague. I felt these poems could use the visual approach of Eduardo. We mailed back and forth on a concept. On what kind of images to use, on colours, a vision. I was lucky he said yes.

I created a track with a reading from Runa;
[listen on SoundCloud]

I gave the recording to Eduardo along with a fantastic translation by Willem Groenewegen.
During a stay in Stockholm he filmed different scenes and improvisations with an actress (Gabriella Roy) and sent me the footage. I asked more or suggested different stuff.

In a final stage I chose and edited the different piece of footage to the track. I am very happy the way this turned out. Working with Eduardo was rewarding and there might follow more…

This easily would’ve qualified for inclusion in my list of Top Ten Multi-Poem Films and Videopoems, had I not already included two other Swoon films. It’s interesting to see how differently he approaches the challenge of melding multiple poems into a single work for each project.

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