Posts in Category: Dance

Animal Bibles by Rönnog Seaberg

Poet: | Nationality: , | Filmmaker:

Swedish-American poet Rönnog Seaberg and her husband Steve Seaberg invented what they called acrobatic poetry. Rönnog isn’t in this performance, and I’m guessing that’s because it happened after her death in 2007. Steve has posted a number of videos of their acrobatic poems on YouTube and on Vimeo, which houses the nude ones. The acrobats in this performance are Steve Seaberg, Mark Wolfe and Ashkey Winnig. You can find the text of the poem on the Vimeo page.

The Seabergs and their frequent collaborator Mark Wolfe spoke to Art Interview magazine in 2005. Here’s a snippet:

Rönnog Seaberg: […] We have a group now that basically consists of 3 people; Steve, Mark and I and we have an outer circle of people who also appear with us here in Atlanta. We take my poetry, which I recite, and we illustrate it and enhance it with acrobatics to make a visual still life.

Steve Seaberg: It’s like how an illustrator illustrates a poem in a book or how William Blake wrote his own poetry and illustrated it as well. There are all sorts of techniques for doing that. We use 3 dimensional space for our illustration. The poetry, instead of being printed, is actually read by Rönnog so it is a real event and we then perform the illustrations for the poem, which often are acrobatic but not necessarily so. Sometimes we simply pose in positions that seem related to or illustrative of the poem. Her poetry is often divided into verses and each verse we do with different poses. There might be three, four, five, verses to an entire poem. So it’s a series of tableaus. Sometimes it might seem like we are imitating art but we’re not. We’re composing the work ourselves but some of the poses of course are comments on or are taken from or inspired by sculpture going back in the whole history of art. We comment upon things that people do, ways of relating to each other in space. Some are more complicated acrobatically and take quite a bit of training and practice to do. Our goal is to create an image. I guess it is something like talking sculpture. But we have also had people who work with us who do movements. Recently we worked with some dancers.

Rönnog Seaberg: And we also add music quite often with live instruments.

Steve Seaberg: A couple of times we have done this with musicians. They sort of softly improvise while we read the poetry. That is always wonderful, it’s lots of fun to do.

Reticent Sonnet by Anne Carson

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

Poem by Anne Carson, the fourth of six excerpts on YouTube from her lecture on pronouns in the form of 15 sonnets called Possessive Used as Drink (Me). See “Recipe” for more information on the series and the production.

Letter From a Parasitic Head by Dana Guthrie Martin

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

Dana Guthrie Martin wrote the poem — see qarrtsiluni for the text — and Donna Kuhn collaborated with her to make the video.

By way of explanation, the poem begins with this epigraph:

Upon autopsy, the neck stump of the parasitic head was shown to contain fragments of bone and tiny vestiges of a heart and lungs.
— www.phreeque.com

Triple Sonnet of the Plush Pony Part 3, by Anne Carson

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

Poem by Anne Carson, from Possessive Used as Drink (Me), a lecture on pronouns in the form of 15 sonnets

Video by Sadie Wilcox

See “Recipe” for more information on the production.

Red Rose 1 & 2 by A.H. Afrasiabi

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

Poems by A.H. Afrasiabi, translated by Niloufar Talebi

Video from The Translation Project — a scene from Icarus/Rise, “a multimedia theatrical piece based on new Iranian poetry, created, translated and narrated by Niloufar Talebi, in collaboration with choreographer and video artist Alex Ketley and composer Bobak Salehi” (text from YouTube).

The Translation Project’s page goes on to say:

Based on the poetry in BELONGING: New Poetry by Iranians Around the World, ICARUS/RISE is inspired by the Iranian spoken word tradition of Naghali, which is practiced in the streets, cafes, public rituals, or ‘art music’ stage. By giving this spoken word tradition new content (new poetry in BELONGING) — rather than its usual content of classical Persian poetry and myths — and fusing it with western theatrical elements, ICARUS/RISE gives voice to hybrid-Iranians, reflecting their experience in contemporary society.

Sonnet of Addressing Oscar Wilde by Anne Carson

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

Poem by Anne Carson, from Possessive Used as Drink (Me), a lecture on pronouns in the form of 15 sonnets

Video by Sadie Wilcox

See “Recipe” for more information on the production.

I Hang Myself by Saghi Ghahraman

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

Poem by Saghi Ghahraman, translated from the Farsi by Niloufar Talebi — read it here

Video created by The Translation Project and Invision Productions for the DVD, Midnight Approaches
Narration by Niloufar Talebi
Dance by Larissa Verduzen
Percussion by royal hartigan

I discovered this organization and its very fine videos completely by accident last night — just doing keyword searches on YouTube. It’s not entirely clear who the performers are on this particular film; the credits for the DVD as a whole are at the bottom of this page.

Iran has one of the richest poetry traditions in the world, so I’m very pleased to be able to feature some contemporary Iranian poets here, thanks to The Translation Project.