Maia Porcaro writes,
This is a short piece shot on 8mm film. It explores the different aspects of meditation and finally finding yourself in such a surreal state. The poem is “How to Meditate” by Jack Kerouac, read by yours truly.
Roethke’s great poem is accompanied by found footage of aquatic organisms, which works surprisingly well. Video maker Paula Schneck writes,
“The Waking,” by Theodore Roethke is a poem about the unknowable, life, death, sleep and waking in the form of a villanelle. One of the most unknowable environments in the world is the ocean, especially the deepest parts with the heaviest pressure. Villanelles have a unique rhyme scheme, which is portrayed in jarring cuts between the clips of underwater life.
A novel approach to poetry-filmmaking, and one that fits the poem well: cycling through the text again and again, in different voices, the way a musical round is sung. Elizabeth Wilkins directs.
A film by Demet Taspinar with poem and voice-over by Elizabeth Bradfield. The fascinating back-story of their collaboration, as described on Vimeo, suggests that the images may have elicited the text to some extent:
A collaboration between video artist Demet Taspinar, who made this film, and me (Elizabeth Bradfield) who wrote a poem to it. Demet made the movie when working in Antarctica, which is where we met aboard an expedition ship. She was the ship’s doctor; I was a naturalist. We’ve made three of these collaborations so far. This one was published (in video and as a printed poem) in Alaska Quarterly Review.
the author of Interpretive Work (Arktoi Books/Red Hen Press, 2008), which won the Audre Lorde Award and was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and Approaching Ice (Persea Books, 2010), a book of poems about Arctic and Antarctic exploration that was a finalist for the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets.
The editing is thoughtful and draws the viewer inside the story (I love the jump cuts between the introvert close-ups of the woman and the loud and intimidating girls). Nicolaou did an amazing job in translating the poem to this day and age with respect and love for the original words, accenting the power of Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry. And when it’s over, I want to see it again.
See the column for more on the filmmaker and her thoughts about Elizabeth Bishop and the film-making process, which are all very interesting. She says in part:
“Where are the dolls who loved me so…” is actually an incomplete fragment of a poem, unpublished until 2006. To me it is a beautiful, sad piece – filled with longing for love and comfort, complicated feelings of abandonment, frustrations with idealized femininity, and despair at not measuring up or fitting in. I used the poem as a starting point to explore a middle-aged woman alone in the world – a self-exile of sorts. Maybe she’s grappling with repressed desires, maybe she’s got some of those feelings of not measuring up. Wanting to be one of those perfect women – impervious to age and unforeseen emotions; and hating them at the same time. The film is impressionistic and dreamy, but more overt than both the poem and probably Bishop’s public self. Having read up on Bishop, I worked in a few references to some of her other work – stuff that the Bishop scholars might catch. Beyond that, it’s very much the world of present-day Toronto, as opposed to Nova Scotian 1910’s. I was excited to cast Megan Follows (of Anne of Green Gables fame) as the lead. When I saw the photo of Bishop on Wikipedia, the resemblance struck me immediately. I’m hoping to do a feature about Bishop with Megan in the future.
Megan Follows granted an interview to AFter Ellen in which she talks a bit about the film. Here’s one exchange:
AE: Because it is such a dreamy, non-formed piece, how did you get yourself in the mindset of that character, E? What interested you about her journey?
MF: You know, it was somewhat guerilla filmmaking for sure. What is interesting is when we shot in the club, the club was live and it was just really a club that was happening. There were some signs that said there might be a film crew walking around and we used a very subtle camera. So we just went into that club and started to dance.
It was pretty funny because it was very, very loud in there. And we couldn’t hear each other over the sound of the music. We had to devise hand signals. So often times my character was dancing with her eyes closed. I would no idea if the camera was still rolling or if they’d moved on to a different shot. A couple of times I got pretty intimate with people who were dancing who had nothing to do with the film. And then I’d be like, “Oh, I’m sorry, I guess we’re not rolling. If you could please get off of me, I have to go find my crew.” [Laughs] So, we had some fun.