Posts By Marie Craven

White Clouds by Lo Lang

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White Clouds is a musical poetry video that was filmed, directed and edited by the outstanding Taiwanese film-maker and poet, Ye Mimi, who released it to the web just two weeks ago. The story of the film…

This song is an adaptation of the poem “White Clouds” by Taiwanese poet Lo Lang (1927-2015). The recording was made by Lo’s daughter Sirong, a renowned, award-winning singer-songwriter in Taiwan. When Lo Lang wrote the poem in 1950, he was expressing his deep desire for freedom. At that time, many Taiwanese were suffering from extreme violence and political repression at the hands of the ruling Kuomingtang, which took over Taiwan after losing the Chinese Civil War to the Chinese Communists. This recording, made in 2018, marks a watershed moment for Lo Sirong and her now deceased father, as Taiwan flourishes today as a fully democratic society.

Lo Sirong sings White Clouds in the Hakka language. She has a marvellous voice, deeply expressive of her father’s poetry. The music overall is wonderful to hear. The English subtitles bring the welcome experience of the poem in written translation as well.

Ye Mimi’s earlier videopoems include I See Green and Golden Shadows as part of the Wild Whispers global videopoetry project, initiated by Chaucer Cameron in the UK. Dave shared three of Ye Mimi’s videos from earlier years here at Moving Poems, including from her own poems. One of these videos was also published by Cordite Poetry Review from Australia, where she wrote an interesting account of her relation to videopoetry.

Ye Mimi’s bio at Vimeo:

Ye Mimi is a Taiwanese poet and filmmaker. A graduate of the MFA Creative Writing Department at Dong Hwa University and the MFA Film Department at School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she is the author of three volumes of poetry and has internationally exhibited several of her poetry films. Through collaging her words and images, she improvises a new landscape trying to erase the border between poetry and image making. Book-length translations of her work are available in Dutch and English.

Human Condition by Rich Ferguson

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Human Condition was written and performed by the one and only Rich Ferguson, beat poet laureate of California. For this spectacular film he teamed up with film director Mark Wilkinson and a marvellous ensemble of performers and musicians including gospel singer Stella Ademiluyi and James Morrison from the cast of Twin Peaks.

Rich has collaborated with other film-makers, and released a great series of videos with Chris Burdick. Most recently, while locked down in Los Angeles, he has started making them himself.

Human Condition is one of his best so far. It is highly musical, and at the same time funny, mournful and uplifting. The text of the poem is posted at YouTube in the video notes.

A Sonnet to the Smartphone by Henrique Costa

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Back in May, Dave wrote some words about a video from the poem The Long Burial by Brazilian-American writer Henrique Costa. That piece was a collaboration between Costa and UK film-maker and animator Jonathan (aka Jonny) Knowles.

They made A Sonnet to the Smartphone a few months earlier. It is an elegiac and then rousing cry for our times. For both videos they teamed up with actor Suzanna Celensu, also in the UK, who appeared and voiced the soundtracks.

All parts of this collaboration are equally wonderful. Let’s hope there are more videos from them in the future as well.

Wild Whispers: New Mexico by Sabina England and Chaucer Cameron

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Watch on YouTube.

Last week we shared a film from the series of 12 that were created for the Wild Whispers project. Each video was made in response to a poem by Chaucer Cameron in the UK. The poem went through a number of ‘blind translations’ in a film-making chain across the world, each video uniquely expressing the poem’s transformation through languages.

This film in the series is by Sabina England, whose brilliant Deaf Brown Gurl appeared on Moving Poems back in 2015. She says this about her Wild Whispers film:

When I first read the poem, it made me think of Native Americans and how much their ancestors had greatly suffered through history. As a Deaf Bihari/South Asian American, I wanted to highlight the themes of suffering and refuge of the poem by showcasing Native American culture(s) and show that despite centuries of cultural genocide, settler colonialism and violence, Native people and their cultures still thrive and resist to this day. I also wanted to draw a parallel between the sufferings of Native Americans with refugees from all over, including Syria, Myanmar, Central African Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, etc. As an immigrant in the USA, I wanted to honour Native Americans by showcasing the beauty of the Navajo language and Pueblo cultures in New Mexico.

Lastly, Plains Indian (Native American) Sign Language was a major influence on American Sign Language, which I used to perform the poem with Navajo voice over.

Wild Whispers: New Mexico
Country and place of production: New Mexico, USA.
Languages: Navajo, American Sign Language and English.
Filmmaker and editor: Sabina England.
Translators: Meryl Van Der Bergh (Dutch to English translation), World Translation Center (Navajo), Sabina England (American Sign Language and improved English prose).

Lost by Caroline Reid

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Lost was written by performance poet Caroline Reid in South Australia, teaming up with film-maker Pamela Boutros to produce this warm and frank video. The notes on the Vimeo page describe it this way:

A playful fusion of poetry, visual art and film in which a reflective middle-aged poet discovers that life’s interruptions to writing poetry are the very substance from which poems emerge.

Caroline was one of the top five Australian Poetry Slam finalists in 2018 and 2019. Her bachelor’s degree is in theatre and writing. This collaboration with Pamela Boutros brings together its creative elements so well.

frog_poem_text.doc by Annelyse Gelman and Chaucer Cameron

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frog_poem_text.doc is a videopoem from Annelyse Gelman in Berlin, whose earlier film-making and poetry have featured at Moving Poems over some years.

This film was made as part of Chaucer Cameron’s marvellous Wild Whispers project, which involved an array of artists around the world. Chaucer’s original poem was sent on a transformative journey through different nations, in a chain of writing, translation, reinterpretation and finally film-making. The project inspired very interesting and varied videos, reflecting the shifting ways we understand and express language, both textual and filmic. At its completion, Wild Whispers had inspired 14 distinct texts in 10 languages and 12 unique poetry films.

Annelyse’s film came towards the end of the two-year process of the project’s evolution across cultures. The words are almost unrecognisable from the original poem, more like a deconstruction and reconstruction of it. She arrived at this via Google Translate. The voice is synthetically generated. She has written about her approach:

I was interested in maintaining some of the imagery and observational eye of the original text while transforming its sensuousness and sentimentality into something cold and mechanical, and in working with a software collaborator that can produce, but not understand, language. (read more)

Of the 12 films in Wild Whispers, this one may have the closest relationship to a history of experimental cinema starting in the early 20th century. Still now this is a movement often abandoning populist or classical approaches to text, whether narrative or poetic, and with a similarly expanded and exploratory approach to making films. It is a movement that continues to be strongly allied with avant-garde art.

Shadow by Alice Oswald

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Alice Oswald is a very well-known and loved poet, especially in the UK, her native land, where she has been Oxford Professor of Poetry since October last year. Her poem Shadow is at the heart of this video commissioned by The Poetry Society, also in the UK.

The video is by Defacto Films based in Texas. There is no information to be found on the web about the people involved in Defacto. In any case, this is a beautifully simple audio-visual accompaniment, intimately evoking nature as a bed for Oswald’s voice. The image stream is again of green nature, creatively literal and well-edited in way that adds new feeling to the poem.

Oswald’s list of major poetry prizes is long and it’s easy to see why. With Oswald’s voice, the film’s sounds and visions of nature, the overall piece is darkly profound and beautiful.