Posts in Category: Documentary

Tamamushi-Iro: haiku about bugs by Issa

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A thoroughly wonderful project from Media Mike Hazard at The Center for International Education:

A swarm of 25 first through eighth graders at Capitol Hill School in Saint Paul, Minnesota, was busy as bees off and on for a whole school year, creating Tamamushi-Iro. It is a great little video of haiku about bugs written by the Japanese poet Issa (1763-1827). We might look at it in many different ways.

While developing the project with the art teacher Julie Woodman, I learned from Ross Corson, then an aide to Ambassador Mondale in Japan, that there is a saying, “tama-mushi-iro,” literally meaning “round-bug-color.” It is used in diplomatic circles to describe something which looks beautiful to everyone, yet different from all angles. Our dream became to create a video of some of Issa’s insect haiku which might be seen as tamamushi-iro.

Like a Rashomon, the video has been seen as a program about Issa, about bugs, about poetry, about Japan, about kids’ views of the world, about art and artist residencies, about television, about international education, about experiential learning, about crossgenerational, crosscultural and crossdisciplinary education, about a person who lived 200 years ago, about inquiry science, about old poetry and new technology…It has been seen in many colorful ways.

First, it’s about great poems. This is why I love poetry. My nine year old daughter, who was on the Issa team, saw a spring fly, and flew to get a flyswatter. She raised her arm, and in mid-air stopped, and thought “Issa,” and let the fly fly. Now if we raise a society to respect even the tiniest creatures of the earth, maybe when some dumb finger is about to push a button and blow us all to kingdom come, some small poem will save us from our worst selves. If we can create a society which stops and thinks, stop and think: we just might….

Ambassador Mondale helped us connect with Sakurababa Junior High School in Nagasaki. Our sister city relationship between Saint Paul and Nagasaki was set up to heal the war wounds of World War Two. On a profound level, this was all about international education, across time and space.

I look into a dragonfly’s eye
and see
the mountains over my shoulder.

Toyama ga
tsuki ni utsuru
tonbo kana

Be sure to read the whole article, and if you’re an educator, consider ordering a copy of the video.

Cold Mountain (Han Shan)

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A while back I posted another excerpt from this documentary, featuring three animations. This is the opening 5+ minutes of the half-hour documentary by Mike Hazard and Deb Wallwork, with animations by John Akre.

Tsead Bruinja, Frisian poet

A short documentary about contemporary Frisian poet Tsead Bruinja from the German broadcasting company Deutsche Welle.

A video of Bruinja reciting one of his poems, “Darling no one knows about the previous lives,” with English subtitles. This is from Wyld Hynder (Wild Horse) films, according to the info on YouTube.

Here’s Bruinja reading a poem called “‘Sy wennet yn in baarnend hûs” — “She lives in a burning house.” This was produced by the Omrop Fryslân broadcasting company. Bruinja includes an English translation by David Colmer on the YouTube page:

she lives in a burning house
every storm takes a tile from the roof
it’s cold her teeth chatter
someone outside thinks up new rules for traffic
an old man cycles on
newspapers stuffed under his clothes
she walks out with a basket full of washing
black sheets black blankets black
pillowcase she sees the fields are burning too
no point in going out
it’s better back inside the walls
flames dancing on his portrait
letters fall unasked through the door
rustling down not reaching the mat her cat
jumps onto her lap with a vegetable desire
to be stroked she pours more meths
over the photo albums wipes
the ash from her glasses and reads
and reads and reads

Some more English translations of Bruinja’s work may be found on Poetry International Web, though according to the translators’ notes, they were based on the author’s own translations into Dutch. (Bruinja also writes and has published poetry in Dutch.)

Poet’s Work by Lorine Niedecker

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Excerpt from a documentary called Immortal Cupboard: In Search of Lorine Niedecker, by Cathy C. Cook, which won a Jury Award from the 2009 Wisconsin Film Festival. Cook reproduces the official blurb on her blog:

In this unconventional documentary, filmmaker Cathy Cook takes cues from Niedecker’s work and the Wisconsin heritage they share to explore the poetry and life of Lorine Niedecker (1903 – 1970). The poetry and film subjects included are: nature, history, ecology, gender, domesticity, work, culture, family and social politics. Cook gives new voice and visibility to the extraordinary works of this very private poet that some literary critics have described as the 20th century’s Emily Dickinson.

There’s a review and an interesting discussion of possible omissions from the film at The Irascible Poet.

For more on Niedecker, see the website for the poet from the Friends of Lorine Niedecker, Inc. Here’s another video, featuring Wisconsin Poet Laureate Marilyn Taylor discussing and reading from Niedecker’s work, part of the Dead Poets Society of America’s 2009 cross-country gravesite tour.

http://www.vimeo.com/8077295

Sea Things: poetry from the coasts of Australia

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I just discovered this delightful documentary.

Free Range Multimedia followed the last leg of the 2 month coastal poetry odyssey that was Sea Things. The brainchild of Sydney poetry organisation, The Red Room Company, the project sent two duffle bags along the west and east coasts of Australia to gather poetry of the sea by those who live on and around it.

For more information, see the Sea Things section of the Red Room Company website.

Bombing of poems, Warsaw 2009

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You never know what’s going to turn up on Vimeo. The instigators behind this event were a collective of Chilean poets called Casagrande. They explain,

We chose Warsaw due to its literary tradition and importance during relevant events in the XX century. It is the land of brilliant philosophers, musicians and poets. For the latter we consider it an important moment to claim the role of written word in life and human history. This year the city commemorates the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of WWII and the 65th anniversary of Warsaw Uprising. We recognise the unquestionable and universal importance of these historical experiences, still formative of the inhabitants of Warsaw as well as for the identity of Europeans in general.

According to an article in a Chilean newspaper, the group, which consists of poets Julio Carrasco, José Joaquín Prieto and Cristóbal Bianchi, began its poem-bombing campaigns back in 2001, with an event designed to commemorate the 1973 Chilean coup. The 100,000 leaflets dropped over Warsaw included the works of 40 contemporary Polish poets and 40 contemporary Chilean poets translated into Polish. Carrasco assured the newspaper that they were not littering: based on his experience with previous poem-drops, he said that within five minutes after it was over, not a single poem would remain on the street.

There was also a public, bilingual poetry reading in Warsaw two days in advance of what I am beginning to think of as P-day.

Alabanza by Martín Espada

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