Sleep (Der Schlaf) by Georg Trakl

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An animation by A.E.E. Viljamaa. Here’s the text of the German original:

Der Schlaf

Verflucht ihr dunklen Gifte,
Weißer Schlaf!
Dieser höchst seltsame Garten
Dämmernder Bäume
Erfüllt von Schlangen, Nachtfaltern,
Spinnen, Fledermäusen.
Fremdling! Dein verlorner Schatten
Im Abendrot,
Ein finsterer Korsar
Im salzigen Meer der Trübsal.
Aufflattern weiße Vögel am Nachtsaum
Über stürzenden Städten
Von Stahl.

Three poems by Michelle Matthees

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This is the rest, another of Kathy McTavish‘s mesmerizing pieces of sound art and kinestatic imagery. Three poems by Michelle Matthees in type form—”The Gardner Hotel,” “Bouquets” and “The Rest”—scroll slowly up the screen against a background (or is it a foreground?) of shifting shapes and tones.

It Lêste Ljipaai / The Last Lapwing Egg by Siem de Vlas

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A lament for the loss of tradition and ties to the land, in the language of one of Europe’s most deeply rooted peoples, the Frisians. Richard van der Laan‘s description at Vimeo is worth quoting at length:

In Fryslân there is a cultural-historical competition to find the first lapwing egg of the year. This visual poem captures the spirit of a tradition, which is bound for extinction.

I made this film in admiration of my father. When I was a little boy he took me into the meadows to find eggs. I still remember the beauty of the landscape, the sound of the birds and the excitement when we found eggs. Sadly we never found the first egg. I also remember the cold of the wind and tired feelings in my small legs. Often asking my father to carry me on his back.

DISCLAIMER: No real eggs were harmed during the making of this film. We only used empty egg shells. My father stopped collecting eggs years ago.

Gathering lapwing eggs is prohibited by the European Union, but Fryslân (a northern province of the Netherlands) was granted an exception for cultural-historical reasons. The Frisian exception was removed in 2005 by a court, which determined that the Frisian executive councillors had not properly followed procedure. As of 2006 it is again allowed to look for lapwing eggs between 1 March and 9 April, though harvesting those eggs is now forbidden.

Lapwings belong in meadows. The name lapwing describes the sound its broad wings make when in flight. Lapwings are also known as peewits, thanks to their shrill call. They are very vocal during mating season and have glorious courting rituals in the air. In the spring, the male makes several simple hollows in the ground and the female chooses one to make brood her eggs in. Both males and females brood the eggs and care for the chicks. Should their nest with chicks be threatened, they will defend their young with all their might. Sometimes, you see them flying after a harrier, constantly attacking the raptor. If it really gets serious, they will pretend to have a broken wing, luring the predator away from the nest.

The Frisian languages are a closely related group of Germanic languages, spoken by about 500,000 members of Frisian ethnic groups, who live on the southern fringes of the North Sea in the Netherlands and Germany. The Frisian languages are the second closest living languages to English, after Scots.
Filmed at Vegelinsoord (West Frisian: Vegelinsoard) a small village in Skarsterlân in the province Fryslân of the Netherlands.

Camera / Production : Richard van der Laan
Egg collector : Hans van der Laan
Poem writer / reading : Siem de Vlas
Sound recording : Richard van der Laan
Sound design : Maarten Boogerman

Siem de Vlas, a landscape architect as well as a poet, also provided the reading in a previous Frisian-language poetry film by Richard van der Laan, It Noarderland (The Northern Land), for a poem by Durk van der Ploeg.

Couch by Jim Dine

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An animation by Alex Itin, who writes:

two months turned to two minutes talking about two years, she tells me. Well there is the words of the great painter Jim Dine and the music of the great Javier Hernandez-Miyares and the a special shout out to Steve Pacia and always Ponyo and Leo and 1000 other scans…. ummm… next.

For more on Jim Dine, see the Wikipedia.

The Light and the Light by Courtney Druz

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A very effective, author-made poetry book trailer using kinestatis, layering and text animation. The book and video are currently featured on the front page of the author’s website. (Do check out the sample poem, as well.)

The Lost Boy by John Glenday

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This is Sonatorrek (Loss of Sons), Filmpoem 30 by Alastair Cook, with sound by Luca Nasciuti.

The work is based on Glenday’s Uncle Alexander, who was in the D’ Battery 307th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery and died in the Battle of the Sambre on November 4th 1918, the same battle as Wilfred Owen. Glenday’s Grandfather, who was a blacksmith, signed the papers allowing his son to go into the Forces before he was of age.

The footage is used under a Creative Commons licence from archive.org

For more on John Glenday, see the Scottish Poetry Library website.

Transfiguration by Steven McCabe

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In this new videopoem by Steven McCabe, the text is presented in silent-film-style title cards, and in three different versions in succession: the first in English, the second in French and the third in Spanish. (Pierre L’Abbé is credited with the French translation and Beatriz Hausner with the Spanish.) Especially for monolingual English viewers, it’s interesting that repetition does not necessarily lead to increasing familiarity, but rather a kind of defamiliarization. As with certain K-pop music video mega-hits on YouTube, not knowing what all the words mean can actually add to the charm of a short film sometimes.

Speaking of music: Brenda Joy Lem did the fantastic drumming in the soundtrack. In a blog post introducing the video, McCabe writes:

We originally filmed and recorded the drumming over two years ago for a different project which never saw the light of day. In the meantime I become interested in juxtaposing silent footage with live action. I realized we could use silent movie title cards for the poetry and not compete with the sound of drumming. The poem Transfiguration was originally published in my 1999 collection Radio Picasso (watershedBooks). My poetry videos can be found @ http://www.youtube.com/mccabesteven