I used her reading to create this soundtrack [SoundCloud link]. For the visual part of the video I wanted a strong contrast between blurry images of light (filmed at an exhibition on the history of light design) and extreme close ups of human skin and hair. Trying to create a mix of sensuality and a weird sensation of fright. Alienated.
Nic S. has also made a video with this text, using her own voice in the soundtrack, but I can see why Swoon chose Jægtnes’ reading: she’s the rare example of a poet who’s also an excellent interpreter of her own work—which is especially impressive considering that English is, I assume, not her first language. She is the translator too, I think: the Poetry Storehouse bio indicates that she’s published a collection of English translations of prose poems drawn from her first two Norwegian collections.
A big thanks to Arjen Vandrie for being the recording engineer of the different instruments I mistreated in this track.
The visual idea for the video came to me when going through different sources looking for footage for another project.
I picked out pieces depicting several (powerful) forces in nature (water/waves, wind, lightning,…) and some with a clear human presence in it. One piece (The hand above the water) was the perfect carrier for the words. The repetition of that calming gesture worked perfectly with Morten’s voice.
poem & voice: Morten Søndergaard
(from: Bier dør sovende – Copenhagen: Borgens Forlag, 1998)
Audioproduktion: Literaturwerkstatt Berlin 2008
Concept, editing, treats & music: SWOON
recording engineer music: Arjen Vandrie
Cinematography: cinematography: Sarah Lee (from ‘Under The Sea’)
Leonard Soosay (from ‘For Benny’) – Michael Raiden (from ‘ A Quick Hour’)
under the Attribution license (CC BY 3.0)
Thanks; Orange HD, videoblocks, Mazwai, Lyrikline
Surprisingly, I’ve never shared a Danish poetry film here before—this is the first. I hope it won’t be the last. (I’d love to see a filmmaker do something with Henrik Nordbrandt’s poetry, for example.)
This Swoon (Marc Neys) film for a Poetry Storehouse poem by Cristina Norcross remixes footage from kenji kawasawa and Colby Moore. Swoon’s blog post about the film includes an interesting reaction from the poet:
Our lives are separate, yet we are bonded – part of an organic whole. Perhaps we are becoming more and more isolated. I would like to believe that there is hope for us to find common ground – to rediscover the beauty of our human connection.
When I first sat down to write the poem, “One Story,” I was actually in the middle of watching Charlie Kaufman’s film, Synecdoche, New York (2008), with Philip Seymour Hoffman.
The dialogue and concept of the film struck a chord with me, and I was unable to wait until the end, to start writing down thoughts. I was transfixed by the notion of how our separateness and isolation is actually a dream.
We are all one. We are all part of the same story. From this seed, I fleshed out images of people I knew or people I had seen on the street. The actress learning her lines on a threadbare couch, sitting on hope, was (and still is) me and my fellow poet, artist, songwriter friends. We are all dreaming about having our ideas take shape – having them take flight.
When I found out that Marc Neys was developing a video remix for my poem, I was quite excited to see how he would interpret the words through the lens of film, images, and music. From the first glimpse, I was captivated by the balloons and mesmerized by the atmospheric sounds and voices underneath the recording of my poem. Each time I view the film, I see more details that have meaning for me. Marc truly captures the bustling, city feeling of many individuals sharing space. He also skillfully conveys how each person is unique. Each balloon finds its own direction, and yet at the end, the balloons form concentric circles. There is a never-ending string that connects us. We belong to one another. You are those feet drifting back and forth in the hammock. You are the father holding a toddler on your shoulders. These images are a glimpse and a gift. Even the very end of the film leaves an echo of how we connect: “What is your name? Mary? That is beautiful. That is a beautiful name.”
A film by Swoon (Marc Neys) for a piece by the Icelandic poet Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl, the first of three (so far) in what Neys calls “my ‘videopoem journey’ along the Northern countries.” Norðdahl himself is no stranger to videopoetry, having made the wonderful Höpöhöpö Böks a few years back. He’s also a great reader/performer, so it’s no surprise that Neys used his reading of the text from Lyrikline in the soundtrack. The English translation, also from Lyrikline, is by Jonas Moody.
Neys posted some process notes to his blog. He says he wanted to try “a combination of a film composition with text on screen and a ‘regular videopoem’ with audible poetry.”
I had two distinctive parts in mind for the video;
A film composition (with text on screen) at slow pace
with the hectic and almost frantic reading combined with a whirlpool of images in the middle.
It occurs to me on second viewing that the highly symmetrical structure of the video mirrors the shape of the poem on the page, where every line is centered and where the final lines come back to a similar image as the opening ones, parabola-like.
If I post a lot of films by Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon (while still failing to quite keep up with his output), it’s because he’s continually trying new things and not falling into a groove. This is an especially good example of that, blending two poems by two different poets, Meg Tuite and David Tomaloff, into a new whole, and taking its title from an unpublished chapbook they’ve co-authored, Everything But the Sky. It appeared at Gnarled Oak on April 10, along with some explanatory text:
Poem “No Code” & voice by David Tomaloff
Poem “I am walking beside me” by Meg Tuite
Essentially, EVERYTHING BUT THE SKY explores the way that dream logic and interpretation often work in context to ordinary events taking place within our daily lives. Think of it as reverse dream interpretation–each of David Tomaloff’s poems is a dream poem whose images might have been the manifestation of the thoughts, emotions, and events that each of Meg Tuite’s flash pieces describe before it. In this way, each pair of poems is a complete set, and, likely, one could begin to see a greater narrative as one begins joining these sets. –David Tomaloff
I created a soundtrack around David’s own narration of his poem and presented that scape with a (horizontal split screen) film composition with Meg’s poem appearing as text on screen. –Swoon
Having one text appear on-screen while another is delivered via voiceover is an interesting and I think effective way to translate a collaborative poetry project into film. There are some additional process notes on Swoon’s blog, as well as the text of both poems.
She’s the expected question
whose answer is the world.
As with many other videopoems of mine, the soundtrack came first; [SoundCloud link]
I used Nic S.’s subtle reading in this track and added fading and fleeting piano notes in the mix.
The idea for the images for the video came through Jeff Mertz‘s ‘The City Without You‘.
His mirrored times-lapses full of movement and light expressed a certain longing. A feeling I also found in the poem and in Nic’s reading.
In the editing process I decided to leave out most parts where the cars and the traffic were too recognizable and focused on the ‘mandala-like’ figures of light.
Rasnake’s poem has proven to be an unusually fruitful source of inspiration for filmmakers. Nic S. herself has made video remixes for the second and third parts, and Othniel Smith has made a video with the whole text. Click through to the Poetry Storehouse to watch all three.
Belgian artist Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon recently released two entirely different films for a poem by his great countryman Hugo Claus: “a ‘European Dance-version’ (using Hugo’s reading from Lyrikline) and an ‘American Road movie version’ using a fantastic reading Michael Dickes made from the English translation by John Irons,” as he put it in a blog post.
‘since January 14, 2015, I’ve been posting one minute of dance to this blog every day, simply, without editing or effects, in the place and state of mind I find myself that day, with no special technique, staging, clothing, or makeup, nothing but what is there.’
I asked if I could use one of her ‘minutes’ (2 février 2015 – 20e danse) for this videopoem. I could.
I simply adore this combination of Hugo’s poem, his voice and her dancing in the snow.
Enjoy! (There’s also a version with French subtitles: https://vimeo.com/118980966)
The source of the ‘road movie’ version is a music video by the collective ESNAF
Their video for ‘The Long Haul’ by NO (cinematography by Jovan Todorović) had all the ingredients I needed for the English version of the poem. I believe the little storyline is the perfect match for the poem and Michael Dickes’ reading.