My Lover’s Pretty Mouth by Cindy St. Onge

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

This author-made videopoem by the Oregon-based poet Cindy St. Onge is

the first in a series of Japanese/English poems that are part of process which is reflective and purgative. Soundtrack created with Garage Band, footage sourced from Videoblocks and Shutterstock, and edited with Movie Maker.

Read the text (in both languages) at St. Onge’s blog.

Intrigued, I contacted Cindy to ask if she’d like to say anything more about her process. She wrote:

These poems that are coming through are what I call ‘telegraphed,’ in that there is little contrivance involved until the revision happens. The meaning of “…Mouth” wasn’t clear to me until I had completed the video.

The poems are rooted in my difficult relationship with Japanese culture, after being married to a Japanese man many years ago. The mystery, to me, is the sudden and spontaneous telegraphing. Honestly, I don’t understand it. At this point, I’m just trying to be a good conduit for the poems, and if I get closure, even better.

As for the bilingual process, the poems were drafted in English with a smattering of Japanese, and I realized as I recited one of the poems that I loved how the Japanese sounded, how the word felt in my mouth, and determined to translate the whole poem — as an experiment. I haven’t spoken Japanese in 25 years, so I had to research most of it, relearning the language, really. As the translation got underway, the Japanese shaped the English revision of the poems, so there was this back-and-forth construction happening. It’s riling up memories, but it’s very satisfying at the same time.

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