A recording of Whitman’s own reading of “America” is juxtaposed with shots of demonstrators in Washington, D.C., minutes after the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, to great and moving effect. This is part of a trilogy of Whitman poetry films by H. Paul Moon, “a filmmaker whose body of work includes short and feature-length documentaries, dance films, and experimental cinema, featured and awarded at over a hundred film festivals worldwide.” Paul tells me that he’s currently shooting the last part, a setting of Civil War poems, in the Richmond, Virginia area right now, and based on what he did with “America”, I’m guessing that that film may not shy away from contemporary political references. But we’ll have to wait until May 31 to find out. That’s when the whole trilogy will be posted to whitmanonfilm.com, to mark Whitman’s 200th birthday. They’ll also be screened the same evening in Washington, D.C. as part of a week-long Whitman bicentennial celebration. If you’re in the DC area, check it out.
Moon’s description at Vimeo is worth quoting in full:
The confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was politically divisive, but Walt Whitman’s 19th century wisdom is timeless. In 1892, the poet wrote in prose:
“I have sometimes thought, indeed, that the sole avenue and means of a reconstructed sociology depended, primarily, on a new birth, elevation, expansion, invigoration of woman.”
Towards the end of his life in 1888, he added “America” to his collection “Leaves of Grass,” and then recited four lines from the poem, onto a wax cylinder recording, before he died (it is the only record of his voice in existence):
“Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear’d, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love”
And the written poem proceeds to say:
“A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
Chair’d in the adamant of Time.”
This poetry film combines my documentation of the minutes after Kavanaugh’s confirmation, with Whitman’s own voice, and original music by composer James S. Adams. I used the new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K at 120 frames per second, and color graded using the FilmConvert emulsion/grain simulation of Fuji 8563 RL film stock.
It has been presented at the 2018 Rabbit Heart Film Festival, the 2019 Beeston Film Festival, and the Walt Whitman 200 Festival.
Poet, playwright, and essayist Dave Harris is featured in this latest installment in the monthly series “A Poet’s Space” from Rattle magazine and director Mike Gioia’s Blank Verse Films. For the text of the poem (which won the 2018 Rattle Poetry Prize) and some additional remarks by Harris, see the post on Rattle‘s website.
Directed by Ellen Hemphill and Jim Haverkamp of Archipelago Theatre as a companion piece to Manicotti, based also on a poem from Marc Zegans’ Typewriter Underground, with the voice-over this time by Tom Marriott. See its dedicated webpage for the full credits, and the main Archipelago Productions listing for more of their cinematic and theatrical works.
Like Manicotti, The Danger Meditations premiered at the Henry Miller library, and has also been screened at the Durham Typocalypse and an Athens Typewriter Underground event. In addition, it was an official selection of the 2018 Juteback Poetry Film Festival in Fort Collins, Colorado.
An interpretation of one of the poems from Marc Zegans’ Typewriter Underground co-directed by Ellen Hemphill and Jim Haverkamp from the Chapel Hill, North Carolina-based Archipelago Theatre. Haverkamp is the narrator and one of the videographers, along with Alex Maness, and the score was composed by Allison Leyton-Brown. Click through to Vimeo for the full credits.
This film, together with a companion piece which I’ll share tomorrow, premiered at a theatrical production of the Typewriter Underground at the Henry Miller Library, Big Sur, California. It was also screened at the 2019 Cosmic Rays Film Festival, at the Durham Typocalypse, “a celebration of all things typewriter,” and at the Athens [Georgia] Typewriter Underground.