The story of the city is simple.
It eats secrets of people.
It digests whispers and
turns them into leaves, birds, fish.
Serbian filmmaker Dragana Nikolic made this arresting spoken word/videopoem hybrid in 2011 with performance poet Aljoša Dražović playing the part of a slightly crazed tour guide, extemporizing in English. (Apparently he is fluent in both English and Serbian. Here’s a video of him performing work in Serbian.) Nikolic says this about this about the film on Vimeo:
Night walk. Unusual tour guide. Improvisation. Free-style poetry.
Talking with the ghosts of the city, the shadows, the fog…
This city is full of secrets. Secret passageways, stairways. Just hidden for you to find…
Festivals: Balkan Beyond Borders, Bucharest, Romania; CologneOFF – Cologne International Videoart Festival; Timishort Romania; Clermont-Ferrand IFF France; Signes de Nuit International Festival, Paris, France; Belgrade Documentary and Short FF; Exit Festival, “Trgni se! Poezija!” Poetry an Book Festival, Alternative Film / Video Festival, Belgrade.
Nikolic also has a bilingual blog focusing on her graphic design work.
A film by Lori H. Ersolmaz, incorporating Nic Sebastian’s reading of a poem by Sally Bliumis-Dunn at The Poetry Storehouse. Two other video remixers have also tried their hand at this poem, Paul Broderick and Nic Sebastian herself, but Ersolmaz’s film is in a class by itself.
The visuals took me some time to figure out.
Different approaches, different ideas resulted in at least three completely different videos.
None of them were what I thought was needed.
Number four hit all the right notes:
Sunlight, straight lines, bright colours, slightly experimental and a strange overall atmosphere…
Happy with this one.
A fun light verse written and read by Michael Somerset Ward and animated by Jessica Ashman, whose description on Vimeo reads:
A short animation made for the Sheffield arts festival, Sensoria in 2013, for the programme ‘Now Will You Listen’.
A great bunch of musicians and poets came up with dark stories and poems which were given to a bunch of animators to create visuals to for a live performance at the festival. Mine is an eerie tale about a slightly unhinged babysitter…
Created using 2D digital animation in Flash, which was then printed out on a digital craft cutter machine and then placed on a glass line tester, along with lots of fun textures.
Big thanks to mister Chris Randall at Second Home Studios, for letting me invade his excellent studio space and for his downright excellent hospitality.
I found an interview with Michael Somerset Ward about the “Now Will You Listen” program. Here’s what he says about the animated poems:
There are three poems in the set and although I didn’t set out to write verse they just began appearing. The poems are some of the most successful pieces and we are performing all three at Sensoria. The animation factor gave us the opportunity to provide a live soundtrack – something we all love doing. Also with all three disciplines involved – literature, film and music – a viewer or listener can have an all-out assault on the senses or can choose to zone in wherever.
Poem and voice by the great Spanish poet Pedro Salinas (1891-1951), one of the Generation of ’27 along with Lorca, Aleixandre, Alberti, and so many other wonderful writers. Click on the CC icon to read the English subtitles (my own translation).
I made an earlier version of this five years ago with the subtitles baked into the video, and when someone recently asked me for a version without them, I realized I’d have to completely redo it, both because I no longer have the software I used then, and also because the earlier version was too low-resolution. I found and used the same soundtrack, but unfortunately I don’t remember who’s responsible for the music, only that it had been released to the public domain on archive.org. The audio of Salinas comes from palabravirtual.com. The footage of amorous garter snakes is my own, filmed in April 2009.
In the subtitles, the short phrase in brackets appears in Salinas’s published text but not in his recitation. Since the line means “which is the nothing,” or “which is nothingness,” I guess he decided to make it literal by reading nothing.
Incidentally, for other Vimeo users who might be wondering about the subtitles, I used Amara (it’s free and easy to use) and followed their instructions for uploading the file to Vimeo. For those of us with fairly basic video editing software, I think it’s actually easier to add subtitles in this way, and I’m thinking it might be a good idea to start adding closed captioning to English-language videopoems as well, and quit discriminating against the hearing-impaired.
Walt Whitman’s iconic collection of poems, Leaves of Grass, has earned a reputation as a sacred American text. Whitman himself made such comparisons, going so far as to use biblical verse as a model for his own. So it’s only appropriate that artist and illustrator Allen Crawford has chosen to illuminate—like medieval monks with their own holy scriptures—Whitman’s masterpiece and the core of his poetic vision, “Song of Myself.” Crawford has turned the original sixty-page poem from Whitman’s 1855 edition into a sprawling 234-page work of art. The handwritten text and illustrations intermingle in a way that’s both surprising and wholly in tune with the spirit of the poem—they’re exuberant, rough, and wild. Whitman Illuminated: Song of Myself is a sensational reading experience, an artifact in its own right, and a masterful tribute to the Good Gray Poet.
Here’s Allen Crawford’s website. The score for the film, “I Contain Multitudes,” is the work of Ben Warfield, and both Warfield and Kessler are good friends of Crawford, according to his blog post about the trailer. I like what he says about book trailers:
David really did a wonderful job: viewers at first will wonder where the book is, only to realize that they had been seeing it all along. Book trailers are still a relatively new thing, but I think David has set a nice precedent by going with a slower pace and lyrical treatment: there’s no reason why a book trailer should look like a film trailer, after all.
My good friend Bill was kind enough to serve as our “Whitman” (How odd and fortuitous that one of my dearest friends should be a dead ringer for Whitman…)
(Hat-tip: Poets & Writers’ Clip of the Day)
Poems about falling in love are a dime a dozen, but when was the last time you heard a memorable poem about falling out of love? Spanish director Eduardo Yagüe rises to the challenge of matching images and sound (and some very effective moments lacking images and sound) to such a poem by the great Argentinian writer Julio Cortázar. (Note that this is probably NSFW since it contains full frontal nudity.) Laura Cuervo is the actress. The music is by Podington Bear (Chad Crouch) and the director voices the poem.
Thanks to Luis Yagüe for the highly serviceable English translation in the titling. The director has also uploaded a version without subtitles.