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.
An exemplary spoken-word poetry film directed by Dave Tynan, featuring actors Jordanne Jones and Deirdre Molloy as well as the poet himself, Emmet Kirwan. It was selected for Special Mention this past weekend by the jury of the Weimar Poetry Film Award, on which I was honored to serve along with animator Ebele Okoye and writer Stefan Petermann. Our statement, translated from the German:
What questions can a poetry film take? Perhaps: in what kind of a world do we live? And in what kind of world do we want to live? In a stirring manner, Heartbreak pursues this question. The film by Dave Tynan tells the story of a young, Irish girl who unintentionally gets pregnant and had to raise her son all on her own. At the same time it is the history of a misogynist structured society and this, not only in Ireland, but everywhere in the world. Carried by the passionate, multi-faceted oration of the Spoken- Word poets Emmert Kirwan, an efficient camera and a wise narration Heartbreak plays around the questions of self-determination about own bodies, objectification, sexism and gender roles. The film succeeds in an impressive way, to translate the powerful words into touching images while remaining clear and direct. Tynan and Kirwan know how to arouse empathy, stimulate thoughts concerning a situation, but above all, anger!, yet, looking into the future with confidence. Heartbreak is a feminist poetry film for women and men. Courageous, angry, heartbreaking; an exclamation mark. A film the world must see. C’mere, C’mere, C’mere.
The YouTube description notes that it was “commissioned and developed by THISISPOPBABY as part of RIOT, Winner of Best Production at Dublin Fringe Festival 2016.” To date it has been viewed over 1.3 million times on Facebook and 201,000 times on YouTube, where it has inspired a lively discussion, with the usual #notallmen idiots vastly outnumbered by those resonating with its message.
An intense, affecting videopoem from Irish poets Karl Parkinson (text, voiceover) and Dave Lordan (video), along with musicians Conor O’Connor, Claus Jensen and Charlotte Hamel from The King Mob. Parkinson wrote about the making of the videopoem for The Irish Times. The poem came first, arising from his grief at the death of his nephew Graham from cancer at the age of 21.
Graham was my sister Elaine’s only child, and he grew up living alongside me in the same flat in O’Devaney Gardens, on Dublin’s northside. With him being an only child, and me having no brothers, we formed a very special bond during his short life. After his death, I wanted, as a writer, to create something beautiful and lasting in his memory, and eventually wrote a long elegiac poem about his fight with cancer, and also my own grief for his passing.
He studied the canon, re-reading the great “poem[s] of elegy and mourning, especially from one male on the death of another male.” The resulting poem
was first broadcast on RTÉ’s Arena arts show, on the first anniversary of Graham’s death, and recently published in my collection Butterflies Of A Bad Summer (Salmon Poetry). But I felt that the best way to honour Graham’s memory was to make a video poem, to take it to a larger audience, particularly those in my own community, the Dublin council estates, and inner-city working class, where to be honest poetry books are not big sellers.
The video draws on new technology and on the history of avant-garde cinema/film, especially modernist experiments of the 1920s and ’30s. It’s a 16-minute long piece in which we tried to push the video-poem tradition at least a small bit in the way of serious artistic expression. We hoped to merge the old poetic tradition of elegy and lament with the new and very exciting medium of indie video art, now open to almost any artist in the western world, at a relatively small expense, compared to what it would have cost 20 years ago. I feel, and hope, that we have done justice to Graham’s life, struggle and memory with something that may have a lasting appeal for others that have been affected by cancer, or any other life-stealing disease, or by the loss of someone young and dear to them.
Marc is a composer/video artist from Belgium and is one of the leading and most prolific figures in modern videopoetry. That makes it a particular privilege that Offering was made for the launch of this site.
My great grandfather Wilbye survived the Somme. His brother Harry was killed in Belgium. My dad still has Wilbye’s signet ring on his finger. WW1 – and the Battle of the Somme – have always loomed large in my mind. The history. The poetry. My own family connection. The horror and carnage of it. The pointlessness. This film was my way of trying to connect with those experiences, and Paul Muldoon’s insightful and compassionate poem left us with the relatively simple task of creating space for it to sink in. These days, the Somme area is a banal agricultural backwater, but the landscapes still feel haunted by the atmosphere of what happened there. I recce-ed the locations with my dad, and my sister produced the film, so it’s really been a family affair, and I’m very proud of it.
The voiceover is by Lloyd Hutchinson and the sound by Jake Ashwell; click through for the full credits. The film was commissioned by 14-18 NOW, Norfolk and Norwich Festival and Writers Centre Norwich as part of the Fierce Light project.