Thinking about how the entirely preventable tragedies of the so-called War on Terror unfolded after September 11, 2001, and agonizing about what we might’ve done to stop it, language breaks down. From poet Andrea Assaf and the Art2Action theater group, including video artist Pramila Vasudevan, “Eleven Reflections on September” is
a poetry/spoken word, multimedia performance on Arab American experience, Wars on/of Terror, and “the constant, quiet rain of death amidst beauty” that each autumn brings in a post-9/11 world. This production is based on the series of poems Andrea Assaf has been writing since 2001, spanning the fall of the towers, the on-going wars, and the current revolutions and conflicts sweeping through the Arab world. Aesthetically, the poems explore the disintegration of language in the face of violence, prejudice, and unspeakable horror; as such, they progress from lyrical to abstract and broken. The annual witnessing of autumn leaves becomes a metaphor for the fallen–soldiers and civilians … This multi-disciplinary project includes performances with interactive media design and live music; community dialogues; visual arts exhibits; open mics, panels and opportunities for action through partnerships with Iraq Veterans Against the War and other peace organizations.
The Vimeo description for this video reads:
An excerpt from “Eleven Reflections on September” by Andrea Assaf
Poem # 11: Judgment
Post-script 1: Traveling
Video Art by Pramila Vasudevan.
Sound Design for “Judgment” by Owen Henry & Keegan Fraley.
Choreographic Assignment: Raise me from the dead. From the metaphorical underworld to the heavens. Once you have lifted my body-spirit from the ground, help me travel to the afterlife. Travel with me, and send me on my way.
Cue: After the poem “Judgment” ends (repeating “just stop” 3x), the Daf pulses three times, followed by a chapreez — and the ritual to raise the dead begins. It will continue through the end of “Traveling”.
Movement during the re-mixed/voiceover section of “Judgment”: I am responding to the fragmented, falling, exploding words with my body — torso, arms and head only, while kneeling on the ground. This section is my descent into the underworld, so to speak — or simply my disintegration, from which you will raise/remake me…
A note on “Traveling” — This poem is an English translation of Mohamed Bouazi’s suicide note to his mother, posted on his Facebook page. Tarek al-Tayyib Muhammad ibn Bouazizi, a 26-year old Tunisian fruit vendor who quit high school to work and support his mother and sisters, set himself on fire on December 17, 2010, after his wares were confiscated … A fire that sparked the revolution now known as “The Arab Spring”. His last note is pure poetry, his final act pure protest. The poem, by Andrea Assaf, was published by Mizna in the Spring 2012 issue on “Literature in Revolution.”
Visit the Eleven Reflections on September channel on Vimeo to watch other excerpts from the piece, including live performance videos.
Nitin Nath is the poet and performer in this musical short directed by Sumesh Lal with music rearranged and produced by Govind Menon. Like yesterday’s video, this poetry film was released as a trailer for a feature-length movie. But there’s an additional connection with the world of film here: the poem is a tribute to the great Malayalam director P. Padmarajan.
India’s first spoken word musical, ‘dear padmarajan’ is a prologue to the independent English feature film ‘Humans of Someone’, slated for release this March 2016.
‘Humans of Someone’ tells the story of a man who gets obsessed with a filmmaker whose films become inextricably entwined with his own life. WATCH THIS exclusive introduction to warm up to the neighbourhood of the film.
The prologue is our heart-sized ode to the dramatic genius of P. Padmarajan, one of the greatest storytellers we’ve ever known.
To support the film, follow facebook.com/humansofsomeone
Click through to YouTube for the unusually complete credits, which include a list of the Padmarajan films mentioned plus other references in the poem.
Veracruz poet Juan Hernández Ramírez reads the first section of his prizewinning poem “Chikome Xochitl” in the Huastecan Nahuatl. Translated by Adam Coon with David Shook from both Huastecan Nahuatl and Spanish—Hernández’s creative process employs both in dialogue with one another—this poem and an accompanying note will appear in the print edition of World Literature Today (Jan. – Feb. 2014). […]
Video shot in Veracruz by Adam Coon. Subtitled in Los Angeles by David Shook. Poem © Juan Hernández Ramírez, 2013. Translation © Adam Coon and David Shook, 2013.
The complete poem appears in the anthology Like A New Sun: New Indigenous Mexican Poetry, edited by Víctor Terán and David Shook (Phoneme Media, 2015). It may also be read online in World Literature Today, which includes a lengthier description of Ramírez’ writing and the translation process.
See Vimeo for more of David Shook’s videos of indigenous and other poets.
Sabina England’s expressive ASL translation of the great Urdu poet’s poem about the 1947 Partition of India and Pakistan. Be sure to click the CC icon to get the subtitles, and choose either Spanish (translation by Sabina England and Alberto Hernandez) or English (translation by Agha Shahid) by clicking on the settings icon. England notes that ‘The poem is recited by Naseeruddin Shah, a famous Indian actor, from the movie “Firaaq” (2008).’
Serbian slam champion Goran Živković Gorki, “the first homeless man on the Moon,” performs in a film by Dragana Nikolić. Đorđe Vić translated it into English for the subtitles. The poem appears in Gorki’s forthcoming collection Psihoslajdovi (The Psychoslides).