Posts in Category: Videopoems

Los Nadies (The Nobodies) by Eduardo Galeano

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Spanish director and designer Carlos Salgado made this film for the NGO Africa Directo, evidence of the nearly universal appeal of Eduardo Galeano‘s writing. (Judging at least from my Facebook feed, Galeano’s death on April 13 occasioned much more widespread mourning than the death the same day of the Nobel prizewinner Günter Grass.) “Los Nadies” appears in Galeano’s 1989 collection El libro de los abrazos, translated by Cedric Belfrage and Mark Schafer as The Book of Embraces and described by Library Journal as a “literary scrapbook, mixing memoir, documentary, essay, and prose poem, [which] defies clear-cut genre classification.”

Salgado notes, “The project came through the agency Sra Rushmore to USER T38, which was where we did the animation and post production.” The credits given in the Vimeo description include 2D Animation: Raúl Echegaray and Alberto Sánchez; Additional 2D Animators: Rubén Fernández and Raúl Monge; 3D Artist: Alex Baqué; Compositing: Ezequiel Bluvstein, Eloy Gazol and Roi Prada; Sound: Sonomedia; and Music: José Battaglio.

This take on the poem by German animator Laura Saenger was much more simply produced (“Animation in After Effects, Music editing in Logic Pro”) but is equally beautiful and imaginative, I think.

Árbol de Diana (Diana’s Tree) by Alejandra Pizarnik: three poems

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Piedras Verdes en la Casa de la Noche and Green Stones in the House of Night are Spanish and English versions of the same poetry film by Spanish director Eduardo Yagüe, which includes and responds to three poems from Alejandra Pizarnik‘s brief but epoch-making collection Árbol de Diana (Diana’s Tree). I’ve just been reading and re-reading the marvelous new translation by Yvette Siegert, which was longlisted for the 2015 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. I went back and watched this film with fresh appreciation, having read the verses Yagüe includes in their original context (where they are nos. 6, 8, and 20, with a line from no. 35 supplying the title). The translations by Luis Yagüe in Green Stones in the House of Night are serviceable enough, but if you’re not fluent in Spanish, do get Siegert’s translation to experience the whole collection in its full, luminous intensity.

No volverás / You won’t come back by Alfonsina Storni

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Spanish filmmaker Hernán Talavera‘s interpretation of a text by the great 20th-century Argentinian poet Alfonsina Storni. The description for the English version reads:

“You won’t come back” starts from a poem of Alfonsina Storni, of [her] book “Poems of love” written in 1926 immediately after an unhappy love affair. In the beginning of the book, the poet warns: “These poems are simple phrases of love states written in a few days, some time ago. This small work is neither a literary work nor claims it”. After “Poems of love”, Storni kept silence during nine years.

And here’s the same description in Spanish, from Talavera’s website:

No volverás parte del poema LXVII de Alfonsina Storni extraído de su libro Poemas de amor, escrito en 1926 a raíz de una decepción amorosa. Al inicio del libro, la poeta advierte: “Estos poemas son simples frases de estados de amor escritos en pocos días hace ya algún tiempo. No es pues tan pequeño volumen obra literaria ni lo pretende”. Después de Poemas de amor, Storni estaría nueve años en silencio.

Solar Therapy by Michele S. Cornelius

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This nearly perfect video remix of a poem by Michele S. Cornelius comes to us from Marie Craven, who writes,

Just a few days ago I read a lovely poem called ‘Solar Therapy’ by Alaska-based artist and writer, Michele S. Cornelius and published in the multi-media literary journal, Gnarled Oak. As it happened, I already had images and music on hand, edited together and waiting for a poem that would mix well with them. I recognised the potential in Michele’s piece straight away and completed this video in the 24 hours following the poem’s first public appearance. The music is by Western Australian ensemble, Masonik, whose soundscapes I’ve appreciated over a number of years. This track is called ‘Bending Light For The Magi‘. I sourced it at the Pool group on Facebook, where it was posted on offer for remix. The images are from the royalty-free stock footage site, VideoBlocks. With a minimal piece like this the small details become magnified. I spent a surprising amount of time on minutiae in the editing, especially deciding how to present the phrases of the poem on the screen and where and when the text should best be placed. In the end, as is often the case, simple seemed best.

Click through to read Marie’s process notes on three of her other recent videopoems, as well.

Sonnet on Time by John Poch

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A poem from John Poch‘s new book Fix Quiet, winner of the 2014 New Criterion Poetry Prize, turned into a film by Alex Henery. The Vimeo description notes that it was “Shot in Lubbock Texas over the Thanksgiving weekend.”

This is the second Poch-Henery videopoem I’ve posted (Shrike was the the first). I reached out to Poch by email for more information about their working relationship. He told me that Henery is his nephew, and that he makes rock videos for Run for Cover Records, as well as playing in the UK-based melodic hardcore band Basement. (The guitar music in the soundtrack is his work, played on the $30 toy guitar shown in the video.) I asked to what extent they collaborated on the video, and Poch replied,

We definitely worked together a lot on this, and I made a lot of suggestions for changes toward this final project. I took him around in my red truck to a lot of the scenic sites in Lubbock, and he just shot the footage. And some around our house of my girls. Nevertheless, but for the poem, it’s all his work.

It’s kind of cool that even though the poet is not foregrounded in the way he might be in a spoken-word-style poetry video, he still appears in profile, unidentified, as the driver of the truck. Also, given the general influence of music videos on contemporary videopoetry, it’s fascinating to see what someone who makes rock videos for a living does with a poem. The relationship between the text and the accompanying shots is as elliptical and allusive as it gets, even as the shots themselves are sharply focused and charismatic. As with the work of such filmmakers as R.W. Perkins or Marie Craven, the populist/accessible and the experimental happily co-exist.

I see that in a tweet from 5 April, Poch mentions “a huge video project with TTU grads” in the works for next year, so it sounds as if we can expect much more from him. As he says in a follow-up tweet: “Video poems are probably a huge part of the future of poetry.”

The Day the Deer Came by Joanne Key

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Alastair Cook of Filmpoem directs, with cinematography by James William Norton and sound by Luca Nasciuti. “The Day the Deer Came” was the Second Prize winner in the UK’s 2014 National Poetry Competition. The Vimeo description notes that “Filmpoems of the top three winning poems have been commissioned in partnership with Alastair Cook and Filmpoem. Filmpoems of all eleven winning poems will be available to watch later this year, and will tour at festivals around the country and beyond.”

For more on the poet, Joanne Key, see her page at the Poetry Society website.

Namesake by Robert Peake

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A witty animated poem by American-British poet Robert Peake that begins with a Google image search and gets progressively more surreal. It’s based on what he calls “a poem for my nemesis“—the 17th-century court painter Robert Peake the Elder. That original posting included links to the referenced paintings which appear as pop-ups on hover, so a visual component was part of the poem from the beginning, as Peake acknowledged in a more recent blog post about the video:

Having already enhanced this ekphrastic poem with imagery, I decided that a film-poem seemed like an obvious next step. Visually, the film follows the poem’s concerns about different kinds of reality — personal, virtual, and historical — by playing with dimensionality.

It gave me the opportunity to try out parallax 2.5d animation using all open-source tools (Gimp and Blender), which I found both painstaking and enjoyable. I also mocked up flat animations in HTML and Javascript — such as the opening search scene and ending Matrix-style text, using screen capture to convert it to video. Valerie Kampmeier wrote and performed the score, inspired by courtly dances and the D-minor feel of a dial-up modem sequence.

It’s interesting to compare this with Ross Sutherland’s “Poem Looked Up On Google Streetview.” Google has more to offer videopoets than just search-query poems, it seems.

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