Posts in Category: Musical settings

Jayne Cortez live with Denardo Coleman: three poems

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1. Find Your Own Voice

2. I’m Gonna Shake

3. She Got He Got

The recent death of Jayne Cortez prompted a post on Metafilter calling attention to her pioneering and musically compelling work with jazz musicians. Though most of the YouTube material is audio-only, the above videos were expertly filmed and recorded. They’re from a concert/reading in 2010 with Denardo Coleman accompanying his mother on drums. Andrew Lynn directed, with camera work by Elanor Goldsmith, Ira McKinley and Joshua Thorson. The description on YouTube reads:

“A Dialogue Between Voice and Drums,” live at The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, NY on October 23, 2010. A firespitting evening with drummer Denardo Coleman, featuring a voice celebrated for her political, surrealistic, dynamic innovations in lyricism, and visceral sound. Cortez’s literary work and impassioned activism, inspired by the ideals of human dignity and social justice, have been called blues poetics, part of the foundation of hip hop and performance poetry. Denardo Coleman is a musician, composer, producer and drummer with the Ornette Coleman Quartet.

From the Hill-Top by Tomas Tranströmer

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Belgian musician S.A. Barstow, A.K.A. Teun De Voeght, has just released an album of adaptations of Tomas Tranströmer poems as translated by Robin Fulton. This is one of the ten tracks from that album. You can listen to the others on his Bandcamp page.

Sonnet 97 by William Shakespeare

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I found this musical interpretation compelling; the accompanying kinestatic video isn’t bad, either. It’s a selection from The Winter E.P. – Shakespeare’s Sonnets by Hallam London, who is credited with composition, vocals, guitars, keyboards and all programming. The photos in the video were taken on Norderney Island in the North Sea by Nicola Moczek and Riklef Rambow. Visit the composer’s bandcamp page to hear more from the EP.

“Much Madness is divinest Sense…” by Emily Dickinson

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I watched this when it was first uploaded to Vimeo two years ago, but for whatever reason didn’t share it then. Perhaps I felt it was too far from the spirit of the poem as I understood it. Be that as it may, however, I think it’s important as an international and pop-cultural interpretation of Dickinson, and also may help clarify some of the differences between the related genres of music video and videopoetry.

Michal Jaskulski directs. The music is by Polish composer Andrzej Bonarek, who specializes in music for theater and film. The video garnered several awards, according to the description in Vimeo:

Los Angeles Movie Awards 2010 – Best Visual Effects in a music video, Award of Excellence
Canada International Film Festival 2010 – Royal Reel Award VSM 2010 festival – Special Recognition
Yach Film 2008 – Grand Prix nominee

IO game over by Sergio Garau

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This videopoem by Angelo Saccu, performed by Sergio Garau to music by Antonio Marra, betrays influences from all over: it’s equal parts concert video, sound poem and concrete/kinetic-text poem. I ran the YouTube description through Google Translate:

The violent encounter between political identities, economic, cultural, language here is staged through an ironic game of opposites. The ‘I’, translated into machine language 1 0 (zero), cut into pieces for binary digital misunderstood as grotesque chaos of contradictory slogans of contemporary power, explodes in a syncopated rhythm outside of himself. For tris doubly impossible breaks down the end of his world.

Three poems (Flute Boy, Marriage of Opposites and Half-caste) by John Agard

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John Agard is joined on stage by the flautist Keith Waithe, a fellow Guyanan, in an extract from a film by Pamela Robertson-Pearce called John Agard Live!, which was included as a DVD along with Agard’s 2009 collection Alternative Anthem, from Bloodaxe Books. (There’s also video of Agard reading the title poem.)

May by Karel Hynek Mácha

This is The Tone of a Broken Harp, The Sound of a Snapped String performed by the composer, Jiří Kadeřábek, and Fourbythree. It uses two brief excerpts from the poem, which may be read in its entirety here. Kadeřábek writes,

This piece is inspired by the dark, almost decadent level of the Czech romantic poem May by Karel Hynek Mácha. Poetic images of love and spring nature mix with description of ruin, despair and death. The quotations, used in the piece as well as in its title, have been taken from the latest English translation of the poem. The concept of the piece as well as the exact image of the video came to me, when I suddenly and unusually took a nap one afternoon.

My spirit – my spirit – and my soul!
that’s how his words, each one distinct,
escape from his clenched lips.
Before the voice reaches the ear
these awful words are once more nothing –
they die – as they were born.

It was late evening – first of May
was evening – the time for love.
The turtledove invited love
to where the pine grove’s fragrance lay.

The video is as effective as the music, I thought. It was put together by Avion Film and Sound Postproduction in Prague.

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