A recent addition to Lucy English’s ambitious, multi-filmmaker Book of Hours project, this time from director Eduardo Yagüe—his third for the project, I think—with music by Podington Bear, voiceover by Rebecca Tantony, and an appearance by the actress Gabriella Roy. The stark contrast between the wintry footage and the summery text creates an interesting spark gap for the imagination to leap.
Earlier this week, Spanish filmmakers Javi Zurrón (Myblue Audiovisual) and Eduardo Yagüe simultaneously released these two films based on the same poem by the Texas-based writer James Brush, from his collection of road poetry, Highway Sky. In the Myblue Audiovisual version, Brush’s recitation is in the soundtrack, with Yagüe’s Spanish translation in titling; in his own film, Yagüe reads the translation and the original appears on the screen. In their footage and soundtracks, the two films are completely different but complementary, interpreting the text in a similar manner. Aida Riesgo of Myblue Audiovisual stars in both, and Javi Zurrón is the male actor in Yagüe’s Gasolina.
The romance of the automobile is as old as pop music, but usually it’s some specific hot car or motorcycle, not gasoline itself, that is depicted as an object of desire. These videopoems feel simultaneously new and deeply indebted to the music video tradition, not in the soundtrack but in the iconography (a scene of a rock concert, a Ramones t-shirt, a tattoo, etc.).
Spanish poet Estefanía González appears as one of three actors in this film interpretation of her poem from director Eduardo Yagüe. The English translation in the subtitles is the work of Jean Morris, and the music is from Swoon‘s album Time & River.
The poem appears in González’s 2013 collection Hierba de noche, which, according to this webpage, was born in large part from her activity on blogs, Twitter, and other social networks and internet collaborations. So it seems especially appropriate that her work should now be the subject of further web-based collaboration and transformation. As a blogging poet myself, I love her description of her outlook:
Sigo desperdigando poemas y semillas por las cunetas. Sigo vertiéndome como un jovenzuelo infinito. Sigo prefiriendo lo por venir a lo obrado. La perfección aún me recuerda a la muerte, cualquier elección me recuerda a la muerte. Quizá se trate de inmadurez. Seguramente.
(I keep scattering poems and seeds into the gutters. I keep pouring myself like an endless youth. I still prefer whatever is coming to what’s already been made. Perfection still reminds me of death, any choice reminds me of death. Maybe it’s immature. Surely.)
Eduardo Yagüe translated Lucy English’s poem into Spanish as well as into film here, and the result is, I think, an excellent fit for her Book of Hours project, casting the text into the imaginative space of temps perdu. The geographic/linguistic distance and change in the expected sex of the narrator create additional resonances. And actor Steffan Carlson’s silence is so eloquent as to supply almost a third voice to the mix. Qué es el amor? is a brilliant demonstration of how to use the narrative style of filmmaking to comment upon and transform a lyric poem.
|Y era el demonio de mi sueño, el ángel
más hermoso. Brillaban
como aceros los ojos victoriosos,
y las sangrientas llamas
de su antorcha alumbraron
la honda cripta del alma.
—¿Vendrás conmigo? —No, jamás; las tumbas
—Vendrás conmigo… Y avancé en mi sueño
(poema de Antonio Machado)
|And he was the evil spirit of my dreams, the most handsome
of all angels. His victorious eyes
shot fire like pieces of steel,
and the flames that fell
from his torch like blood
lit up the deep dungeon of the soul.
“Would you like to come with me?” “No, never! Tombs
“You will come with me…” And in my dreams I walked
(translated by Robert Bly)
Eduardo Yagüe (GIFT Producciones) made this videopoem in 2014 as an homage to the great Spanish poet Antonio Machado on the 75th anniversary of his exile and death. Eduardo’s reading is exceptionally good, and slow-paced enough that even those with just a little bit of Spanish should be able to follow along. Music by Jared C. Balogh accompanies the voiceover.
I first learned this poem (number LXIII from Galerías) through Robert Bly’s translation (above) in Roots and Wings: Poetry from Spain 1900-1975. (Alan S. Trueblood also translated it for a bilingual edition of the selected poems, but not quite as effectively.)
Usually, the American poet and electronic literature expert Matt Mullins makes his own poetry films, but for this one he teamed up with Spanish director Eduardo Yagüe, providing only the poem, voice and music. The poem is dedicated to the Soviet artist Eva Levina Rozengolts (1898-1975), a drawing of whose appears in the credits. According to the Museum of Russian Art website,
Eva Levina-Rozengolts was one of the few Soviet artists who managed to creatively transform and express the trauma of Stalinist repression in a striking visual language.
Trained in the celebrated VkHuTeMas, the hotbed of early Soviet avant-garde, Eva Rozengolts worked as a textile designer and later a copyist at the Soviet Artists’ Union production studios. She was arrested in 1949 and sentenced to ten years of exile in the depth of Siberia where she lived in a settlement on the Yenisei river, in the Krasnoyarsk region. She was assigned to work as a woodcutter, wall painter, and later medical assistant. After returning from exile, she regained her creativity, undeterred by age and failing health. In fact, it was after her return from Siberia, that her talent came into its own. Unknown to the broad public, her work stirred the attention of the new generation of unofficial artists that emerged after Stalin’s death. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Eva Levina-Rozengolts became recognized as one of the outstanding figures of the ‘lost’ artistic generation of the Stalin era.
Yagüe shot the film in Stockholm with actress Carolina Rosa.
A powerful new film from the Spanish director Eduardo Yagüe in response to a poem by the Uruguayan writer Rafael Courtoisie, which is included in the soundtrack. London-based translator and poet Jean Morris supplied the English translation used in the subtitles, a collaboration which I’m happy to say I had a small role in bringing about. The music is by Four Hands Project, and the actresses are Mercedes Castro and Montse Gabriel.