Maggie Clark’s film of a poem by Laura Seymour, part of a collaboration between Magma Poetry and the University of Edinburgh to make poetry films for Magma 71, The Film Issue. I attended the launch on Friday night at London’s wonderful (and threatened) Cinema Museum, and this was the stand-out film to me. You can find all the films linked from this article. Here’s what they have for Anyone Can Buy a Seat in the Cinema:
Maggie Clark: As my focus is primarily in documentary, the film poem has been an opportunity for me to expand my creative practice and be a little bit more playful with the way I film. It’s pushed me to use visual metaphor as a storytelling device, which is a challenge I’ve really enjoyed! Laura’s poem is about love in the face of prejudice. It carries a sincere and important message, which I hope to do justice in my film.
Laura Seymour: When Maggie and I were talking at the start of the project, I saw that one or two images in the poem stuck out visually from the rest, and also that the images that stuck out visually were perhaps the most ambiguous. The idea that readers or watchers might be more affected by ambivalent imagery was really interesting to me.
To celebrate yesterday’s release of Liu Xia from detention, here’s a video of her reading two poems while in captivity, “Untitled” (translated by Ming Di and Jennifer Stern) and “Drinking” (translated by Yu Zhang). A 2015 post on the PEN America website has the text of both translations, as well as the back-story:
October 8, 2015, will mark five years that Liu Xia, the wife of imprisoned Chinese writer and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, has been under extralegal house arrest in her Beijing apartment. It was on this date in 2010 that Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjørn Jagland announced from Oslo that her husband was to receive the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize “for his long and nonviolent struggle for human rights in China.” Within hours, police descended on her apartment complex, cut her phone lines, and barred friends and family from entry.
In this rare video, shot in December 2013 after friends ripped past the guards to her apartment, Liu Xia is seen reading two of her own poems in her apartment. Liu casually sits at her desk just outside the soft glow of a reading lamp, smoking a cigarette and reading from her notebook. After she finishes reading the second poem, “Drinking,” she gives a hasty thumbs up to the unidentified camera operator heard whistling in approval.
On December 1, 2015, PEN will host a reading of Liu Xia’s poems from a new translation of her poetry, Empty Chairs—forthcoming on November 3 from Graywolf Press—at Book Court in New York City. Stay tuned for details to come.
the founder and Executive Producer of Visible Poetry Project. Michelle is currently based in Brooklyn, NY, where she writes screenplays, essays, and poetry. She directs and produces both short and long-form films and web series. She graduated from Columbia University, where she studied English.
“Threshold” is the opening poem in Vuong’s debut collection Night Sky with Exit Wounds, which has won the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Whiting Award, the Thom Gunn Award, and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, among other honors.
I’ve been following Sarah J. Sloat’s erasure poetry project using Stephen King’s Misery ever since it began, on a subsequently deleted Tumblr site, as a poem-a-day project in 2016, and thereafter in various online magazines (such as Tupelo Quarterly and Escape Into Life) as Sloat’s erasures have become ever more visually arresting and imaginative. Just last week there was this interview and feature in Neon Pajamas.
So I was delighted to see a video collaboration between Sarah Sloat and Marie Craven, incorporating images from the erasures in a montage of Marie’s own invention. Here’s how Marie describes it in a just-published blog post:
Sarah Sloat creates hand-made visual art pieces that are also poems. She does this by using various techniques to ‘erase’ most of the words from pages of Stephen King’s novel, ‘Misery’. Her ‘erasures’ leave only scattered words around the page, forming small poems. To these, she adds found images, related to the poems in associative ways that might recall surrealism. With Sarah’s permission and ongoing feedback, I have here selected a number of the visual poetry pieces and adapted them. The video of ‘Misery’ attempts to construct a fragmented narrative, or new poem, from the juxtaposition of the selected visual poetry pieces. It focuses strongly on the image components of Sarah’s ‘Misery’ pages and creates a new form in motion with them. Not a strict ‘presentation’ of Sarah’s visual poetry, the video is my response to their inspiration. Music is by Gurdonark, whose Creative Commons music I have been following for about eight years. Other videos I have made from Sarah Sloat’s poetry are Dictionary Illustrations and Nightlight Ghazal.