Belgian poet Runa Svetlikova‘s collection, Deze zachte witte kamer, has just won the 2015 Herman de Coninck Debut Prize. Here’s a film Swoon (Marc Neys) made a few months ago with help from the Spanish filmmaker Eduardo Yagüe. (Be sure to watch on a laptop or desktop computer and expand to full screen so the English subtitles are legible.) Marc described their process in a blog post:
Early this summer Runa Svetlikova asked me if I would be interested in creating a video for some poems from her debut ‘Deze zachte witte kamer’ (Uitgeverij Marmer, 2014)
“The beating heart of that new collection is a series of six poems that would fit perfectly in one video”
She was right.
The collection appears to consist of no more than a handful of atoms that randomly traverse space. Against that cosmic and sometimes comical background Runa explores the alienation she feels at the birth of a child, the difficult maintenance of a love without knowing whether there is such a thing as love, the urge to give a voice to a dead father… Yet the poems do tell a story. Especially the middle six; Vogeltje / Birdie – Verzorging / Care – Habitat / Habitat – Classificatie / Classification – Conceptie / Conception – Draagtijd / Gestation.
For this project I asked the help of Eduardo Yague. I felt these poems could use the visual approach of Eduardo. We mailed back and forth on a concept. On what kind of images to use, on colours, a vision. I was lucky he said yes.
I created a track with a reading from Runa;
[listen on SoundCloud]
I gave the recording to Eduardo along with a fantastic translation by Willem Groenewegen.
During a stay in Stockholm he filmed different scenes and improvisations with an actress (Gabriella Roy) and sent me the footage. I asked more or suggested different stuff.
In a final stage I chose and edited the different piece of footage to the track. I am very happy the way this turned out. Working with Eduardo was rewarding and there might follow more…
This easily would’ve qualified for inclusion in my list of Top Ten Multi-Poem Films and Videopoems, had I not already included two other Swoon films. It’s interesting to see how differently he approaches the challenge of melding multiple poems into a single work for each project.
Pixelated, glitchy desert images from the disputed Israeli-Palestinian region and electronic soundscape are integrated with a poem by the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai, and read by the actress Gila Almagor, transmitting an urgent message to stop the continuing violence by all sides in the Middle East. The work highlights the absurdity and pain of repeating human patterns of error, turmoil and destruction, and the difficulties of communication in deaf, chaotic world.
The English translation used in the film is by Barabara and Banjamin Harshav.
Filmpoem director Alastair Cook invited Makar Liz Lochhead, the National Poet of Scotland, to read three of Robert Burns’s poems and together with Italian composer Luca Nasciuti they have created three beautiful interpretations of some of Burns’s most loved works: I Murder Hate, Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation and A Man’s a Man for a’ That.