A new Moving Poems production. I was browsing recent clips at the Beachfront B-Roll blog and was taken by a plume of rising smoke, which struck me as just the right sort of image for a poem I’d just read at the Poetry Storehouse that features a small forest of white birches. The author is Massachusetts-based poet Jennifer Martelli. After searching SoundCloud and the Free Music Archive in vain, I finally found a track on ccMixter that seemed to fit. I was going for a Tom Waits kind of vibe, and I’m delighted to report that Martelli (with whom I’d never previously communicated) liked the video, and said some kind things about my reading as well. It really does take a leap of faith to submit one’s poems to the Poetry Storehouse and let random strangers mess around with them.
A few technical process notes: I’m now using MAGIX Movie Edit Pro, following a recommendation by Marc Neys, and am finding it to be a better fit for my needs and abilities as an amateur filmmaker than what I’d been using before, Adobe Premiere Elements. After uploading the finished video to Vimeo, I decided to add closed captioning, inputting the poem line-by-line as it appears in the published text so that even people with normal hearing can still benefit from turning on the captions (CC button, lower right) and seeing how the poet chose to arrange her words. I also discovered that the WebVTT file generated by Amara can be subsequently tweaked in a simple text editor (I used Notepad) to correct typos or finesse start and stop times before uploading it to Vimeo. While I like the results, this is a poem with a lot of enjambment, so I’m not sure whether my desire to display original line breaks should have trumped the need of viewers for a potentially smoother read. I welcome feedback on that point.
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.
I couldn’t resist making a video for one of Donna Vorreyer‘s poems at The Poetry Storehouse myself. “Giacometti’s Pears” was originally published in Weave magazine. I blogged about my process a bit at Via Negativa last week.
A poem by the great Jean Follain, read by Nic Sebastian for Pizzicati of Hosanna. The translation by W.S. Merwin is from his book-length selection of Follain poems, Transparence of the World, which belongs on every poetry lover’s bookshelf.
I don’t make any great claims for this video; I just wanted some Follain here at Moving Poems and no one else was envideoing him in English.
After all my web hosting woes of late, I think it’s safe to say that this site, at least, is back on an even keel. To celebrate, I made a video for one of my favorite poems, and Nic Sebastian was gracious enough to upload a reading I could use to Pizzicati of Hosanna. I found the music on SoundCloud: “The Foggy Dew” on tin whistle by Chris Kent. I blogged a bit more about this at Via Negativa just now.
Moving Poems’ latest production takes advantage of a new free-audio site that other filmmakers might be interested in, too: pizzicati of hosanna: dead poets’ poems read by Nic Sebastian in English & other languages. The footage is from Blackwater Falls State Park, West Virginia. I blogged all about it at Via Negativa.