A Moving Poems production for a new series of poetry in translation for the group literary blog I contribute to, Via Negativa. Go there for the text of the poem and the translation; the titling on the video disregards both punctuation and lineation in the interest of displaying Spanish and English side by side, in the manner of a bilingual book of poetry. I haven’t seen this done on a bilingual poetry film before, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been — it seems like a fairly obvious arrangement.
As I wrote at Via Negativa, I translated the poem (with some invaluable assistance from Alicia E-Bourdin on Facebook) specifically with the intent of pairing it with that footage of cabbage white butterflies—which, when I shot it last week, I already recognized as having a certain Lugones-like feel. So it was just a question of finding the right poem.
This filmpoem by Katie Garrett is an excellent demonstration of how to stay close to the imagery of a poem without merely illustrating it and diminishing both film and text in the process. The text, by Mark Pajak, is a Commended poem from the Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition 2014. Judge Zoë Skoulding’s remarks on the poem already seem to anticipate the filmpoem:
The ingenious structure of ‘Cat on the Tracks’ produces an eerie sense of inevitability, where the lines of both poem and the train hurtle on their collision course. The filmic detail of the cat’s eyes’ slow blink draws us into a parallel world in which physical laws seem – just for a moment – suspended.
Farerra is a selection from a rensaku (“a sequence of haiku or tanka in which the individual stanzas do not function independently,” says AHA) by the prominent Irish poet and haikujin Gabriel Rosenstock. This videopoem version by Swoon (Marc Neys) uses the first eight haiku of the sequence, and combines Rosensack’s reading in Irish Gaelic from Lyrikline with an English translation on the screen. Marc writes:
For the visuals I decided to use stills by Pyanek, who made some brilliant macro photos. He is a photographer who uses the reverse-lense technique to delve deeper into the tiny worlds that make up the world we can see with our naked eye. I thought these images expressed exactly what I was looking for to combine with Gabriel’s observations of the nature around the Catalonian Pyrenees. They both dive into our natural world and surroundings to dig underneath the surface, somehow…
I applied the same visual haiku technique (5/7/5 seconds for each image) as I did earlier and placed the English version as (sober) text on screen with each last image. The only movement is a gentle zooming in and out.
Incidentally, Marc has just launched a low-key crowd-funding campaign to support his work as a filmmaker and composer. His main editing computer just died, and he can’t afford to buy a new one without our help. If you enjoy his videopoems, please consider making a donation. As someone who often has trouble asking for help and believes in open content and open source, I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment:
I strongly believe in art being as free as possible. Unlocked. Shared and spread all over the world (real and virtual).
But I also believe that in order for artists to create and produce, their audiences need to step up and directly support them.
I’m basically stretching my comfort zone by getting out of my comfortable hermit existence to connect with you people and hold my hand out, be it virtually.
A unique poetry film: a hand-drawn animation of poets’ hands from interview snippets that can also be seen as a remix videopoem. Kate Sweeney explains in the Vimeo description:
Created from short elliptical sequences taken from archived interviews with four Bloodaxe poets. I wanted to isolate the gestures used when explaining the poetic, the abstract thoughts they couldn’t express in words alone. Gesture is communication that is also a kind of drawing in the air.
C.K Williams, in his interview with Ahren Warner, muses that “In a sense the final version of any work of art pretends to be an improvisation; even a painting. First the painter puts down the ground on the canvas or the wood then he puts down another layer of something then he begins to put the blocks in and then the last layer, little brush strokes, that look like improvisation”. The archive offers a window through to all those described layers. It tracks the process of producing a poem, a book and in a way, a poet. Inspired by my research in the archive, the animation includes the smudges, rips, mistakes and corrections, of the paper it was drawn on, revealing and incorporating the process into the final version.