Continuing with this week’s feature on Marc Zegans, here’s the first of three videos I’ll be sharing based on texts in his latest collection, circulated to select video artists and filmmakers while still in manuscript. This one is described on YouTube as “retro-collagist Eric Edelman‘s animation of the First Fragment from the Typewriter Underground. Full text can be found in La Commedia Sotterranea della Macchina da Scrivere: Swizzle Felt’s First Folio from the Typewriter Underground. Available from Pelekinesis March 1, 2019.” The publisher’s webpage calls La Commedia
a gathering of verse fragments and collages describing and illustrating the life of the Typewriter Underground, a spontaneous sub-cultural phenomenon that appeared with near simultaneity in a variety of cities and smaller locales across the globe in the late 20th and early 21st Century.
Layla Atkinson directed this vivid animation of a poem by Siegfried Sassoon that insists on the importance of remembering the horrors of war in peacetime. The animators are Marie-Margaux Tsakiri-Scanatovits, John Harmer, Rok Predin, Jocie Juritz, Jacob Read, and Clelia Leroux; see Vimeo for the rest of the credits. The Trunk Animation Production Company website provides detailed production notes. Here’s the middle part:
Being that the poem obviously has a dark subject matter, we wanted to find a balance so that an audience would be able to enjoy the film, relate, and hopefully retain Sassoon’s warning, without being either too harrowing, or too warm.
We worked with the amazing Julian Rhind-Tutt on the voiceover, and he played with the delivery of different lines to help ground each scene in a reality.
The visual narrative has a cyclical structure that as we progress, slowly erases reality as memories take over, only for our main character to make a firm decision to regain control and pull themselves back into the here and now.
The poem was written in 1919, and we took influence from cubism, in so much as we wanted to tell multiple stories and ideas at once from different viewpoints. Layla also approached the overall look and feel using a mixture of different textures and materials to build up visual layers.
In this startling animation of Muriel Rukeyser’s “Poem (I lived in the first century of world wars),” two lives unfold in split screen, one during the tumultuous world events of 1968, the other 50 years later against a new landscape of uncertainty and ever-present digital technology.
The film was produced by the Poetry Foundation just last year, part of a new focus on poetry videos on their website, which I was excited to discover recently. When I started this website ten years ago, the Poetry Everywhere series of animations produced by the Poetry Foundation (in association with docUWM at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) was one of the major caches of poetry animations on YouTube, and though they were made by university students and therefore not as sophisticated as the series of Billy Collins animations that had been produced by JWTNY a few years earlier, they were plentiful and my standards were low, so they had a lot to do with turning Moving Poems from a short-term gallery into a long-term blog. I’d always hoped that the Poetry Foundation would devote more of its considerable endowment to producing poetry films some day. It looks as if that day might finally be here.
A videopoem by Helen Dewbery and Chaucer Cameron for the title poem from Tania Hershman‘s debut poetry collection with Nine Arches Press. A song by Tania’s brother Nick Hershman, “You Get What You Deserve”, is also incorporated into the soundtrack, and the interplay between the two texts is part of what makes this work so well, I think.
A poem by British Bengali author Saurav Dutt animated by Egyptian filmmaker Nissmah Roshdy, whose film The Dice Player took top honors at the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival in 2014. The Stone of The Olive was screened at ZEBRA 2106; here’s the description from a YouTube upload of the trailer:
A young man’s soul struggles to stay attached to his homeland after the destruction of war and occupation takes over his country. As he faces violence, the only thing that ties his soul to the land is the olive tree. The film visualizes the poem “The Stone of The Olive” by british author Saurav Dutt and adopts a fantasy-like portrayal of the struggle of Palestinian refugees.
Mahmoud Taji recites the poem, and the music is by Aaron Mist. The translation in subtitles is credited to World Translation Center.