I wanted to start the New Year with one of my favorite poets. This is Todo hace el amor con el silencio: tres poemas de Alejandra Pizarnik by Hernán Talavera. Here are the three texts along with some rough translations. (Feel free to suggest improvements in the comments.)
en la otra orilla de la noche
llévame entre las dulces sustancias
on the other side of night
lead me among sweet substances
[no. 22 de "Árbol de Diana"]
en la noche
[from "Tree of Diana," #22]
in the night
La niña que fui
De lágrimas se nutrirá mil años.
The girl who I was
Fed on tears for a millennium.
“A journey around Argentina and Uruguay to illustrate words of Jorge Luis Borges,” says the Paris-based director, Neels Castillon. The soundtrack includes Borges’ own reading of the poem, as well as music by Yann Scott. The cinematography is by Kévin Michel.
Here’s the English translation Castillon supplied in the description at Vimeo:
To gaze at a river made of time and water
And remember Time is another river.
To know we stray like a river
and our faces vanish like water.
To feel that waking is another dream
that dreams of not dreaming and that the death
we fear in our bones is the death
that every night we call a dream.
To see in every day and year a symbol
of all the days of man and his years,
and convert the outrage of the years
into music, a sound, and a symbol.
To see in death a dream, in the sunset
a golden sadness–such is poetry,
humble and immortal, poetry,
returning, like dawn and the sunset.
Sometimes in the evening there’s a face
that sees us from the depths of a mirror.
Art must be that sort of mirror,
disclosing to each of us his face.
They say Ulysses, wearied of wonders,
wept with love on seeing Ithaca,
humble and green. Art is that Ithaca,
a green eternity, not wonders.
Art is endless like a river flowing,
passing, yet remaining, a mirror to the same
inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same
and yet another, like the river flowing.
Today’s Google Doodle commemorates the birth of Borges:
“Wishing Jorge Luis Borges a happy 112th birthday!” Google tweeted early this morning, adding a well-known Borges quote: “I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.”
I shudder to think what this arch-conservative and biobliophile would’ve said about videopoetry, let alone digital texts. But thanks to a Facebook contact, I saw this video and thought it worth sharing. It appears to be a quite illegal upload (and re-branding) of a snippet from the documentary Art, Poetry and Particle Physics, narrated by John Berger and directed by Ken McMullen. However, the uploaders do at least acknowledge the theft, and also reproduce the text of the translation by Stephen Kessler used in the documentary. And it’s a very effective selection, I thought — it works well on its own as a videopoem, even with the apparent non sequitur by Berger at the end about Borges’ lack of interest in 20th-century science.
This is from the first chapter of Cronopios and Famas, translated by Paul Backburn, “The Instruction Manual” — “an absurd assortment of tasks and items dissected in an instruction-manual format,” according to the publisher’s description on Amazon.
Sari Rachman is the actress, and also supplied the voiceover reading of the poem. Leonardo Cariglino did everything else. You can read the text at Maud Newton’s blog. Someone else posted a video interpretation of the poem on YouTube, and had I not discovered this one, I might have posted it. But I’m afraid Cariglino’s film blows it out of the water.
Incidentally, Cariglino is in the midst of a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter to make a film inspired in part by a Baudelaire poem. Check it out.
A nicely non-literal animation of the poem by Latvian filmaker Signe Baumane, from 1999. It won Silver at Worldfest – Houston Film Festival 2000, the Robbie Burns Award at Cin(e) Poetry Festival 2000, and a Jury Award at the 34th New York Exposition of Short Film and Video 2000, according to Baumane’s website. Here’s the Spanish text.
A couple of the YouTube uploads of this ad attribute it to Andy Fogwill of the advertising firm Santo Buenos Aires, so I’ll assume that’s correct. I first saw it in the dubbed English version below, via Don Share’s blog.
For those of us immersed in the world of poetry, it may come as a bit of a shock to realize that for many other people, poetry is synonymous with bad poetry. Had it not been for that sleight of hand there at the end, I would’ve thoroughly enjoyed this. For all that bad metaphors and aching sincerity set my teeth on edge, it is still preferable to the ad man’s cynicism in the service of idolatry.