in the coincidence of a thought everything is dream
a smile like a sliver of moon lights the night
I can’t believe I haven’t already posted this haunting, atmospheric videopoem, considering that when Swoon (Marc Neys) originally uploaded it to Vimeo nine months ago, I commented that I’d be looking forward to an English-subtitled version and he swapped one in almost immediately, with a translation by the obviously very prompt Annmarie Sauer. It’s the latest in a series of films Swoon has made with texts by the Belgian poet Marleen de Crée, and as with his very first such effort — Nog Niet / Not Yet — he worked with the actress Katrijn Clemer, who also supplied the voiceover. He posted some process notes to his blog:
Marleen de Crée, one of my favourite Belgian poets has a new collection coming in March; Fluisterlicht (Uitgeveij P., 2014)
I consider myself lucky to know her (and her husband Jean) well enough to have received some of the poems of the new collection beforehand.
It’s always a joy to work with Marleen’s words. The intimate nature of her poems are perfect to create scapes and images for.
This time for ‘Blues’, I chose to do the filming myself again. Extra info from the writer about the new collection gave me a clear idea of what and how I wanted to do this one.
As always I found Katrijn Clemer to be and have the perfect voice to read Marleen’s poetry.
Around her reading I created this track: [listen on SoundCloud]
I wanted to create the atmosphere of long nights full of words and mystery… houses with a soul, eerie and warm at the same time… as a child I loved wandering around the house, pretending to be alone…listening to the sounds around me…
For that reason I chose candlelight as the only lighting source of the video. The love for words that Marleen received in her childhood reflects in this video.
A filmpoem by Swoon (Marc Neys) incorporating 11 poems by 11 different Belgian writers, telling a single story of life, lust, love and loss. The poems range in style from experimental to formal verse, all ably translated by Willem Groenewegen. I had the pleasure of seeing this at ZEBRA with an introduction by the filmmaker, having first viewed it online more than a year ago when Marc briefly made it public. It’s now been fully released to the web after nearly two years of festival screenings.
I don’t know if there is ever an ideal day of the week to post a 20-minute poetry video, but website visitor stats do suggest that Monday is a big day for procrastination on the job. So grab a beverage, put on your headphones and hit the play button. What better way to ease into the week than with a surreal poetry film to alter your consciousness?
Here are the poems that make up the film:
The poems were recorded by three well-known Flemish actors: Vic De Wachter (poems 1, 6, 7, 8), Michaël Pas (poems 2, 4, 10, 11) and Karlijn Sileghem (poems 3, 5, 9). The actors are Katrijn Clemer, Mathieu Courtois, and Rommel the cat. (“Rommel” means “clutter” in Dutch; it has nothing to do with the Nazi general.) The music is by Hanklebury, Lunova Labs, and Swoon. Click through to Vimeo for the rest of the credits, not to mention the extensive list of screenings.
This film was selected as the winner of the Open Competition at the 2014 Filmpoem Festival in Antwerp (part of the Felix International Poetry Festival). The description accompanying Filmpoem’s upload to Vimeo:
Naar Wat We Waren, a film by Lies Van Der Auwera of the poem by Eric Joris is just terrific. We chose this as the Filmpoem Prize for reasons which will be clear as soon as you watch it – a real melding together of sound word and image. There are many beautiful poetry-films, lush and sumptuous. This is not one. This is real, alive and honest. Congratulations to all involved!
The film was produced collaboratively by the Poetry Prophets: Eric Joris (poem and voice), Kristof Van Rossem (music) and Lies Van der Auwera (camera and editing). There’s also a version without subtitles. It’s part of a collection of videopoems that emerged from a workshop led by Marc Neys (Swoon) at a creative writing program in Antwerp.
This is exciting to me because it shows that videopoetry workshops can be an integral part of writing programs, and that they can produce highly effective, publishable results. (Here’s the English translation of the writing program page from Google.) American MFA program directors, take note!
A while back I made a video for ‘Het einde of het begin van een mensenleven / The end or the beginning of a human life’
This poem by Jan Lauwereyns (you can read about the videopoem) has an extended English version (published in the book ‘Three Poems To the Question of Four. 27+3 Drawings’)
Because they were so obviously connected I wanted to create a second video for the English poem; ‘The End or the Beginning’
I asked Michael Dickes to read/record the poem and he delivered a perfect (dark blue with bits of fading grey) reading. I created a very slow and deep track around that recording […]
This time I didn’t want to use IICADOM footage. No family memories. The video needed to be more abstract.
The first thing I wanted to use was an experimental performance/recording by Ephemeral Rift.
The mask and movements in this short video reminded me of bunraku. It was the perfect link to Jan’s frame of mind.
(Jan lives and works as a scientist in Japan)
This video was going to be the lead in my videopoem. I added a variety of images around this storyline. Hints of science, nature, death,…
A poetic storyline through images. It’s a flow of thoughts surrounding the poem, being a flow on itself…
I am very happy with this one, so was Jan. We started a journey together with this project. It will take us to other places, new ways of combining, crossing borders. More to follow in the future…
The aim of a poet is not to win prizes. To be famous. To be popular. Even not to produce books. That’s left for the others to decide. The aim of a poet is to leave as much traces as possible during a lifetime. Like seeds we blow in the wind. Like water we flow in all directions. We project fire. We consume everything before we are consumed ourselves.
A piece by Belgian poet Jan H. Mysjkin, ably translated into English by John Irons, supplied the inspiration for Swoon’s first videopoem of 2014. Check out his process notes, where he talks about how the soundtrack took shape and what led him to settle on the footage he used from the Prelinger Archives.
A film by Dutch photographer and filmmaker Judith Dekker with words by Belgian poet Michaël Vandebril. The English translation for this version of the film is by Will Stone; there’s also a version without any text in the soundtrack at all, which Vandebril uses for live performances. The poem appears in his book Het Vertrek van Maeterlinck.
This was Dekker’s very first filmpoem, and it won the 2013 Filmpoem Festival Prize in Dunbar, Scotland.
Casina Rossa is the name of the house in Rome where John Keats died.