This is Talking Points, a film by Rob Perez for Motionpoems, based on the poem “Eggheads” by John Koethe. Perez tells a separate story in the film that intersects with the text in an interesting fashion. “Citizen journalist” Will Campbell writes about the poem and the film in some bonus materials on the Motionpoems website. Here’s an excerpt:
What drew Rob Perez to work on “Eggheads” was the challenge that came with adaptation. “I was interested in the idea and challenge of lifting a poem off the page and putting it on the screen” Perez said. That meant more than simply giving face to Koethe’s words. The film’s biggest challenge came in finding a way to preserve the quality of Koethe’s language while still making a film that uplifted the poem itself.
Perez’s solution to this dilemma was ambitious to say the least: let the poem speak for itself—supported, that is, by a narrative. His film adaptation of “Eggheads” combines a cool, crisp reading of the poem with jazz-tracked footage of a couple moving through the charmed humdrum of ordinary life. Their words are muted, leaving only their actions and something like “Take Five” to tell what they’re up to while in the background “Eggheads,” read by a separate narrator, gives meaning to the pair and their everyday world.
For Perez, the challenge of the film became finding just the right amount of narrative to support the poem without overburdening it. After all, “the poem is good enough to stand alone—otherwise it wouldn’t live like that. Therefore, my job is to find a story—of moving pictures—that allow the poem to say the same thing in a new medium. The screenplay, the actors, the frame, the score, sound effects, etc. are all tools to lift the poem off the page and onto the screen.”
A very beautiful poem. Heartfelt.
Nic Sebastian did a poignant reading that led to this track;
The visuals for this one are a combination of footage I shot during a hiking weekend last december (moody shots of trees, reflections, shadows…) alternated with the repetition of a boy falling (carefully edited out from a very lively action video by Justin Kauffman (under the Attribution license CC BY 3.0)
I think the ‘endless’ falling of the boy works well with the rest of the footage. Creating the right atmosphere for the poem and the soundtrack. There’s some comfort in this one I think.
A reminder, for any poets who might be reading this: the deadline for submissions to The Poetry Storehouse is coming up on February 28. After that it will transition to archive mode, adding new remixes (including videos) only up through September.
A mirrored field turns into layered images of a church interior in this new videopoem from Ruben Quesada for
A poem by Roger Reeves from his debut collection of poetry, KING ME (Copper Canyon Press, 2013).
Music: “Symphony No. 5″ by Gustav Mahler
This nearly 14-minute videopoem was conceived, shot and edited by Sva Li Levy, AKA syncopath. Initially I wondered how it was going to hold my attention for so long, especially considering that Borges’ original poem is fairly short, but I needn’t have worried: I found it mesmerizing, a brilliant concept beautifully executed. How better, indeed, to anticipate love than by going through a soapy car-wash, Coltrane’s “Love Supreme” playing on the radio? And then playing around with the radio dial and finding Borges’ poem mysteriously transmitted in different languages: Hebrew (read by Yitzhak Hyzkia), Spanish (Julio Martinez Mezansa), English (Yonatan Kunda, reading the Alastair Reid translation), Portuguese (Martha Rieger) and French (Ravit Hanan).
Including the text of a poem in the soundtrack of a poetry film or videopoem has by now become so standard a move that I think I’ve been hungry for a new twist. And Levy’s treatment feels right in part because the poem could so easily be made to seem sententious, and instead he brings out the undercurrent of humor and the provisional quality found in so much of Borges’ writing.
Australian artist Marie Craven‘s video remix of a poem from The Poetry Storehouse by Missouri-based poet Laura M Kaminski. Craven recently blogged some process notes on three films she’s made with Kaminski’s poems, including this one:
I met Laura on social media after the first video, and our mutual membership of the Pool creative group put us in more contact after that. I sent her a message about making something new with her writing, and asked if she would be interested in responding in poetry to four pieces of royalty-free video footage I had found at VideoBlocks. She was interested in a continued collaboration and willing to write a new poem. But her first response to the images I sent was that they reminded her of a poem she had already written, ‘Lilies of the Field’. I loved the poem, agreed there was a fit, and so went to work. I decided text on screen might be the way to go for this video. To that end, I rearranged the line breaks in the poem to better suit the screen, which Laura welcomed in the final result. In response to the poem, I also found additional video images to go with the original ones I had sent Laura. One of these – the road at night shot – is by videographer, Gene Cornelius in Alaska, whose fantastic videography is featured in some of my previous videopoems. The music in the video is Slow Blizzard by Clutter (aka Shaun Blezard in Cumbria, UK). Shaun and I have been in online contact on and off for several years and this is a track I’ve loved since I first heard it in about 2010. Once the video was completed, I contacted Nic Sebastian at The Poetry Storehouse to ask if she might be interested in publishing the poem and video at the site. They are both now there.