A well-produced performance poetry video from Emote Record Company, “a record label dedicated entirely to the recording, distribution, promotion, and support of spoken word artists and the spoken word community.” Du Plessis is one of several artists recorded in what appears to be someone’s living room in Johannesburg. (View more at Emote’s YouTube channel.)
Scoring and Additional Recording by Paul Elliott
Edited, Mixed and Mastered by Simon Strehler
Videographers: Ett Venter, Bernard Brand
Special Thanks to Clive Thomson and the Thomson family, the greatest hosts on Earth.
It’s no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of spoken word and slam-style poetry. But the outrageous rhymes on “Orwell” sold me on this one. Plus I applaud the emphasis on audio and video production. Emote’s website, spokenwordcollective.com, was just launched last month, so they’re obviously just getting off the ground. I hope they go far.
An English-subtitled reading by the Argentinian poet Diana Bellessi, part of a larger documentary about her. The translation’s really good and the language and landscape are both mesmerizing, I thought. Here’s the YouTube description:
Diana Bellessi reads the poem “After the fragment”, about the history of her family, originally from Italy. As she reads, the sun sets over the land they worked.
This is video is part of the documentary “Secret Garden” (www.secretgardendocumentary.wordpress.com).
Directed by Cristián Costantini, Diego Panich and Claudia Prado
Camera: Leandro Listorti/Diego Panich
Poem translation: Cathy Eisenhower
Diana Bellessi lee el poema “Detrás de los fragmentos”, sobe la historia de su familia, descendientes de italianos en la pampa santafesina. Mientras ella lee, el sol se pone en la tierra que trabajaron sus parientes.
Este video es parte del documental “El jardín secreto” (www.eljardinsecretoblog.wordpress.com).
Last week’s Sunday bonus post went over well, so here’s another, also a bit spiritual, for all you church-of-the-brunch types. In this one, the late Allen Ginsberg does Tai Chi in his kitchen over an audio track of Allen Ginsberg reading a poem about doing Tai Chi in his kitchen. Found via the lyrikline blog, which notes:
This clip is one of the earliest “Poetry Spots” Bob Holman made between 1986 and 1994 for the New York public television station, WYZC. Holman produced around 50 “Poetry Spots” in total.
For more of Holman’s poetry videos, see his YouTube channel.
Here’s a Sunday bonus video, a poetic un-sermon after my own heart from one of our finest Southern poets. Ed Madden’s TEDx talk seamlessly incorporates three poems from his 2013 collection My Father’s House: “How to lift him,” “Knowledge,” and “Thirst.” The book’s publisher, Ron Mohring, describes this talk as “Frank, open, painful, specific, direct, moving, and perhaps above all, generous.” I was especially moved by Madden’s quietly radical questioning of the power of communication to change those around us, and his refusal to grasp at easy, glib truths.
The video is also available at the TEDx site.
A film adaptation by Peter Madden of a piece originally titled “Skype,” by the bilingual Irish poet Doireann Ní Ghríofa. Madden first released an English version, about which he noted: “This is basically a performance based video, Doireann simply reads the poem on skype.” Then he made Glaoch (embedded above): “Shot to the same beat as its English version ‘Call’ it varies only very slightly, echoing the changes that occur in translation.”
Both films were part of a recent feature of Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s poetry in Numéro Cinq, which includes her statement about this poem:
Glaoch/Call is a consideration of modern life and love. I am intrigued by the multiple paradoxes of contemporary life — we are more connected than ever through technology, and yet there often remains a fundamental disconnect between us, an emotional distance, a fundamental interpersonal detachment. This poem arose from dissonance between these opposing constructs, and our collaboration in film seeks to further explore this matter.
I know I don’t post nearly as many performance videos here as I could. Sometimes that’s because the poetry is too didactic (a common failing especially of spoken-word poetry, in my view), but more often than not because the filming simply isn’t imaginative enough. But this film, short as it is, proves that a talented filmmaker can transform a performance video into something wonderful — and perhaps transcend the genre altogether. This could just as easily be classed as a videopoem/filmpoem that happens to feature the poet.
Then of course there’s the pleasure of watching and hearing a poem read in another language while reading a good translation in subtitles. That’s one of the things that most interests me about poetry video in general: the way it can be used to bring the music of poetry in other languages across, at the same time helping poets who write in languages with relatively small numbers of speakers to reach a global audience.