Marc Neys AKA Swoon‘s latest videopoem uses a translation of my own, so it’s entirely possible I’m prejudiced here, but I really like his choice of footage to accompany this century-old poem by the great Nicaraguan innovator of Modernismo. He also made a version in the original Spanish.
We each shared some notes about the poem and the film in a blog post. Quoting oneself is weird, but here’s what Marc wrote, in part:
I probably fell for the poem because of the outspoken naivety in lines like
for there’s no greater pain than the pain of being alive,
no affliction more severe than consciousness.
I wanted to steer away from easy or obvious choices in imagery but I also wanted the footage to be clean and simple (unremarkable almost), yet beautiful in their elusiveness.
In the editing process the starting point was the poem. I put different title blocks along the length of the soundtrack (without the presence of images). Only then I looked for appropriate footage (some of it is mine, others came from archives or videezy, videoblocks and mazwai) and adjusted them (pace and length) to make them fit the title blocks with the lines of the poem. The choice of font and placement of the text on the selected images was the last thing to do.
I still enjoy this way of composing.
As with yesterday’s film by Trevino Brings Plenty, this minimalist videopoem works because of the subject’s lack of response to a direct address, confounding the viewer’s expectations. The audio comes from a reading by the poet at Poetry International Rotterdam in 1977, and the video montage was made just last year by JW van Hemert, using footage from Conscience dauphins. Although the poem is mostly in Dutch, one can understand just enough of it to get the point.
Hans Faverey was—judging from the English translations of his poetry on the Poetry International Rotterdam website and at Words Without Borders—a great poet whose work deserves much more international exposure (I only heard of him last week, thanks to a tip from Willem Groenewegen on Facebook).
A film by Lori H. Ersolmaz using both voiceover and text-on-screen for the poem by the Chicago-based poet and therapist Nina Corwin. Ersolmaz found the poem at The Poetry Storehouse and the archival footage at Pond 5 and the Internet Archive.
Swoon (Marc Neys) has been taking a “‘videopoem journey’ along the Northern countries” this year, with films based on poems from Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and Norway. This one took him to Greenland, as he describes in a recent blog post.
I started with creating a soundscape around her reading; [SoundCloud link]
After that I was driven by the overall atmosphere of the language and the pace of her reading to look for footage by Jan Eerala again.
His images of an abandoned shed, a pink plastic bag in the wind and some shadowy puddles worked well in contrast (split screen) with the blue spooky footage I created earlier this year (playing around with software and public domain material)
This marriage of Greenland, Finland and Belgium works rather well, I think.
A film by James William Norton in collaboration with Filmpoem. The poem by Paul Nemser was commended in the 2014 National Poetry Competition from the Poetry Society, who commissioned the film as part of a series of NPC 2014 filmpoems. NPC judge Roddy Lumsden said of the poem:
‘After the Calm’ is a mix of deliciously frothy language and mysterious narrative. It is angsty and slippery. It tempts us to solve that restricted narrative but keeps our attention. It shifts between straightforward lines and unusual phrasing (‘dizzily companionable wane’, ‘angels powdering the breezes’). Intriguing, somewhat disturbing, it impresses with its dark charm.