A great feature on Irish haikujin Gabriel Rosenstock from the arts and culture TV program Imeall, produced by Red Shoe Productions. The English translations of the interview and haiku are excellent, which is no surprise: Rosenstock is a prolific translator and author, and his poetry blog is gloriously multilingual.
This is Filmpoem 50, a collaboration between Scottish filmpoet Alastair Cook and 20 other poets hailing from Scotland, England, Ireland, the U.S., South Africa and Belgium. I have a rule against posting films containing my own poetry to Moving Poems, but in this case my lines account for only 1/20th of the poem, so I decided not to be precious about it. Besides, it’s too important a poetry film not to feature. The composition process involved Alastair sending each writer a snippet of found film. To quote his original email:
You can be trite, erudite, short or shorter (no more than three or four lines) but the brief is this—Americana, the 1950s, travel.
All the clips are from the same batch of film and the artistic conceit is that a narrative will thread through these. This batch of film has this family move through America over the years, these boys grow up and some of the footage I have is heart-wrenching, always tinged with the salient and sombre fact that I source these from house-clearances, that the death of the filmmaker releases this footage to me.
The official description, from Vimeo and the Filmpoem website, reads:
Watch Alastair Cook’s brand new film, three years in the making, with new writing by twenty of the world’s best poets, sountracked by composer Luca Nasciutia and read by poet Rachel McCrum – screens worldwide from Autumn 2016. New ekphrasis work by poets John Glenday, Vicki Feaver, Stevie Ronnie, Janie McKie, Brian Johnstone, Jo Bell, Andrew Philip, Linda France, Dave Bonta, Angela Readman, Michael Vandebril, Gerard Rudolf, George Szirtes, Emily Dodd, Ian Duhig, Rachel McCrum, Robert Peake, Polly Rowena Atkin, Pippa Little and Vona Groarke.
This was originally planned as Filmpoem 40, but got delayed for a number of reasons, during which I believe the concept changed and matured a bit. I list Alastair as the chief poet here because it was his concept from start to finish, and he edited and moved around the submissions after they all came in. The decision to have a single narrator was, I think, a good one, but it’s amazing how well the conjoined text holds together on its own. Clearly, this is an approach to filmpoetry/videopoetry composition deserving of further experimentation. Alastair had been building on what he learned in making his Twenty Second Filmpoem back in 2012, which also involved 20 poets and some found footage.
In other Filmpoem-related news, I see that there will be a fourth Filmpoem Festival, or series of festivals, dubbed Filmpoem Sixteen, though it doesn’t sound as if we can expect an open call:
Filmpoem Sixteen will focus on a series of invited curated events. The first of these is at the Hauge Centre in Ulvik in Norway, where Alastair is artist in residence in May. Alastair has directed The Sword, a new film working with Hauge’s incredible landscape poetry, alongside readings by John Glenday, cinematography by James Norton and sound by Luca Nasciuti; the film will premier on May 12th. Alongside this new film, the Hauge Centre will screen a Scottih retrospective of Alastair’s work and selected works by others from the Filmpoem Festival submission archive.
Check back for further announcements as our new director Helmie Stil brings her own flavour to Filmpoem.
This is my poem film Red Line Haiku which was commissioned by South Dublin Libraries as part of the Red Line Book Festival 2015. The film was shown at the Civic Theatre Tallaght on Wednesday 14th October and Thursday 15th October as part of the festival.
The film maker was Bao Zhu, a student at Ballyfermot College of Further Education and we filmed in September 2015. My thanks to Bao who did a excellent job!
Shots of, or taken from, moving trains are a staple in poetry film, but seldom is the text focused on the train (or in this case tram) itself. The Red Line is one of two lines in Dublin’s light rail system, running “in an east-west direction through the city centre, north of the River Liffey, before and travelling southwest to Tallaght, with a fork to Citywest and Saggart,” according to the Wikipedia.
Literary festivals commissioning poetry films is a great trend, if it is a trend yet. I hope so! I’m running across more and more instances of it.
“7 Painters is a film composition I made for 7 ekphrastic haiku by Gabriel Rosenstock,” writes Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon, noting that it’s his second collaboration with the poet after Farrera earlier this year. Click through for texts (including the original Irish), stills, audio, and additional process notes.
Making poetry films and videopoems with texts originally sparked by other works of art presents the filmmaker with a bit of a conundrum: whether to suggest or include those art works, and if so, how? Here, Swoon seems to be responding purely to the words. But this works, I think, because the link between text and footage remains oblique enough that we might be watching what the painter, too, saw before taking up the brush.
Farerra is a selection from a rensaku (“a sequence of haiku or tanka in which the individual stanzas do not function independently,” says AHA) by the prominent Irish poet and haikujin Gabriel Rosenstock. This videopoem version by Swoon (Marc Neys) uses the first eight haiku of the sequence, and combines Rosensack’s reading in Irish Gaelic from Lyrikline with an English translation on the screen. Marc writes:
For the visuals I decided to use stills by Pyanek, who made some brilliant macro photos. He is a photographer who uses the reverse-lense technique to delve deeper into the tiny worlds that make up the world we can see with our naked eye. I thought these images expressed exactly what I was looking for to combine with Gabriel’s observations of the nature around the Catalonian Pyrenees. They both dive into our natural world and surroundings to dig underneath the surface, somehow…
I applied the same visual haiku technique (5/7/5 seconds for each image) as I did earlier and placed the English version as (sober) text on screen with each last image. The only movement is a gentle zooming in and out.
Incidentally, Marc has just launched a low-key crowd-funding campaign to support his work as a filmmaker and composer. His main editing computer just died, and he can’t afford to buy a new one without our help. If you enjoy his videopoems, please consider making a donation. As someone who often has trouble asking for help and believes in open content and open source, I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment:
I strongly believe in art being as free as possible. Unlocked. Shared and spread all over the world (real and virtual).
But I also believe that in order for artists to create and produce, their audiences need to step up and directly support them.
I’m basically stretching my comfort zone by getting out of my comfortable hermit existence to connect with you people and hold my hand out, be it virtually.
Pádraig Burke of the production company Runaway Penguin directed and edited this filmpoem-performance video hybrid. Though some of the shots struck me as a bit too literal, they were balanced by other, more oblique images, and Dave Lordan‘s intense delivery was a good fit for the dire subject-matter of the poem. “My Mother Speaks to me of Suicide” appears in his collection The Lost Tribe of the Wicklow Mountains (Salmon Press, 2014).
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey…
By situating the action of this animated short in the “pavements grey” rather than the “bee-loud glade,” director, scriptwriter and editor Don Carey was able to avoid the trap of too-literal illustration while drawing attention to the poem’s longing and suggestion of despair. The ending is brilliantly ambiguous.
According to the Vimeo description, Innisfree was “produced by the students of the animation department at the Irish School of Animation, Ballyfermot College of Further Education, 2013.” It won best animation at the 2014 Royal Television Society awards, and has been screened at several festivals, including the Cork Spring Poetry Festival, the 7th ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival in Berlin, and the Liberated Words Poetry Film Festival 2014 in Bristol (and again last week at their “Reflections” screening in Bath).