Filmmaker: Eduardo Yagüe

Metamorphosis by Jean Morris

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Marie Craven’s most recent poetry film is a collaboration with the Spanish director Eduardo Yagüe and the London-based poet and translator Jean Morris. I’d been waiting to share it until Marie blogged process notes, which incorporate comments from Jean and Eduardo. The resulting post is too long to quote in full, but here’s a bit of it:

I was immediately drawn to the poem of Metamorphosis when it came up on one of my social media news-feeds, where I regularly read contemporary poetry from around the world. UK writer and translator, Jean Morris, was its author. The piece was inspired by a famous woodcut print by M.C. Escher, Metamorphosis II (1939-40). Jean’s viewing of the art work seemed to have suggested in her a vision of someone who might be similar to Escher himself, a character who perhaps the poet could relate to personally, as could I. The piece sketches a solitary character fascinated by life’s multiple and varying repetitions, of shapes and spaces, movement and time. It has a mirror structure, which I felt apt as a reference to the highly distinctive geometries that appear in Escher’s art.

In another part of the virtual globe, I had been in contact for several years with Spanish film director, Eduardo Yagüe. We had previously talked about a possible collaboration between us. So in 2019 I contacted Eduardo with Jean’s poem and asked if he might be interested in co-directing a film of it. We then contacted Jean, who agreed to a film of her poem. I suggested Rachel Rawlins as a possible voice artist and we were all pleased when she said yes to joining the project as well. […]

Jean Morris (writer):

I’ve always been a loner and not so great at working with others, so having my words become part of this rich collaborative work is a new and rewarding experience. An earlier version of my “mirror poem”, which tried to reflect the morphing mirror structure of Escher’s artwork, appeared on the Via Negativa poetry blog, long established as a beacon of the Creative Commons ethos, which I support, so I was happy to say yes to Marie’s proposal and keen to leave it to her and to Eduardo to make of the poem whatever they wanted. I’d long admired both their, very different, work in poetry film and trusted they’d make something beautiful, technically sophisticated and interesting. It also made me happy that the actor, Pedro, was someone I knew as a poet and the voice, Rachel’s, one long known in real life here in London. What a lovely, complex, international thing in sad and claustrophobic times.

Eduardo Yagüe (direction, videography):

When I was thinking on locations for filming, nothing seemed to me more ‘escherian’ than the Colegio de la Inmaculada in Gijón, my hometown in Northern Spain and where I am currently living. Belonging to the Jesuits, the building owns a long history including some dramatic episodes during the Spanish Civil War. I studied there from age 6 to 18.

Then, when I was thinking for potential actors for the video, I decided, looking at Escher’s portrait, that Pedro Luis Menéndez would be a perfect choice. Pedro was my Literature teacher and my first theater director when I was a teenager student at the Colegio, and now he’s become one of my favorite Spanish poets. One year before recording Metamorphosis I made a video called La vida menguante (Waning Life) based on several of the poems from Pedro’s book of the same title. I also recorded some footage of the streets and buildings of Gijón, a city sometimes aesthetically annoying but very ‘escherian’ too. […]

Read the rest.

I hope this week’s focus on Marie Craven has brought into sharper relief the variety of tools and approaches available to contemporary videopoets and poetry filmmakers. As a much more impatient and slap-dash video maker, I admire Marie’s perfectionism, to say nothing of her artist’s eye and musician’s ear and her openness to collaborations of all kinds.

We may do other week-long features on filmmakers or poets in the coming months. It’s always especially helpful when people take the time to write in detail about the making of their films, as Marie does. Though most projects aren’t as wildly collaborative as Metamorphosis, even the loners among us stand to benefit from a culture of sharing tips and insights, especially with a growing community as full of artistic ferment as the international videopoetry scene.

Vuelvo a la noche / Back in the Night by Mía Gallegos

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This is the final film in Spanish director Eduardo Yagüe‘s Trilogía de Soledad (Trilogy of Solitude), which began with an adaptation of a piece by a Spanish poet, Pedro Luis Menéndez: La vida menguante (Waning Life), and continued with A media voz (Under My Breath), which responded to a text by Peruvian poet Blanca Varela. “Vuelvo a la noche” is by the contemporary Costa Rican poet Mía Gallegos.

Solitude has certainly taken on a different, potentially life-saving connotation in this time of pandemic, and my Spanish friends have been in my mind a lot lately. Eduardo has said that this trilogy was “sobre la soledad y el vacío existencial, creativo y amoroso” (about solitude and existential, creative, and romantic emptiness). All three poems were translated into English by the London-based translator and poet Jean Morris.

Half-life by Luisa A. Igloria

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Two Moving Poems regulars—filmmaker Eduardo Yagüe and poet Luisa A. Igloria—in their first collaboration, a film for the Visible Poetry Project. Luisa provided the voiceover, and the actress, as in so many of Eduardo’s poetry films, is the wonderful Gabriella Roy. The music is an original composition by Four Hands Project. The poem originally appeared on Via Negativa, the literary blog I share with Luisa, last October.

Luisa had another poetry video this spring, too: Marc Neys (a.k.a. Swoon) made the trailer for her latest collection of poems, The Buddha Wonders if She is Having a Mid-Life Crisis.

What is the Word by Samuel Beckett

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This is Qué Palabra, directed by Eduardo Yagüe: a Spanish-language interpretation of Samuel Beckett’s poem “What is the Word” with the original text in subtitles. Jenaro Talens is the translator, and Sergio Cabello the actor. It’s been screened at the 6th International Video Poetry Festival 2018 (Athens) and Festival Silêncio 2017 (Lisbon). I think it’s fair to say that it is very, very Beckettesque. Also, the closing shot is brilliant.

In Darwin’s Dream by Matt Mullins

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A brand-new collaboration between two seasoned poetry-film pros, Spanish director Eduardo Yagüe and American writer Matt Mullins, who edits the mixed media section of Atticus Review. Although Matt’s own videopoems are often very effective, here he supplied just the text, voiceover and music, and Eduardo did the rest — the same division of labor as in their 2016 film The Hero is Light. The actress here is Rut Ayuso.

Domingo Después del Vendaval / Sunday Morning After Gales by Jean Morris

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London-based translator and poet Jean Morris provided the texts for this bilingual filmpoem by the Stockholm-based Spanish director Eduardo Yagüe. Soprano Juana Molinero sings the Pie Jesu from Fauré’s Requiem in the soundtrack, providing a pleasing contrast to Yagüe’s voiceover.

Daisy Chain by Lucy English

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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.