Sonnet 58 by William Shakespeare

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Mary Ann Walsh shines as a bartender with attitude in this spoken-word interpretation of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 58. Directed by Olivier Bertin for The Sonnet Project, where the film’s page notes the poem’s intended subject: “an emotionally enslaved lover, the object of his affections behaving wantonly while he quietly suffers, unquestioning.” But the best thing about the Sonnet Project films I’ve watched so far is the freedom with which the directors have reinterpreted the texts.

And of course the specific New York location always co-stars in the film. This time it’s the White Horse Tavern in Manhattan. As the webpage puts it,

The White Horse is perhaps most famous as the place where Dylan Thomas drank heavily, returned to the Chelsea Hotel, became ill, and died a few days later of unrelated causes. Other famous patrons include James Baldwin, Bob Dylan, Richard Farina, Norman Mailer, Jim Morrison, Delmore Schwartz, Hunter S. Thompson, and Mary Travers.

Another of the White Horse’s famous patrons is Jack Kerouac, who was bounced from the establishment more than once. Because of this someone scrawled on the bathroom wall: “JACK GO HOME!” At that time, Kerouac was staying in an apartment in the building located on the northwest corner of West 11th St.

About the same time, the White Horse was a gathering-place for labor members and organizers and socialists, as well. The Catholic Workers hung out here and the idea for the Village Voice was discussed here. The Village Voice original offices were within blocks of the White Horse. Much of the content was discussed here by the editors, a practice we at NYSX believe would be much approved by W. Shakespeare.

Advice Dyslexic by Lisa Vihos

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Lamp the lights
and harvest the gather.
Let no unturned go stone.

A nicely minimalist video remix by Dale Wisely of a Poetry Storehouse poem by Lisa Vihos, using Nic Sebastian’s reading in the soundtrack. The text is delightful; some of the inverted phrases make better advice than the originals. And somehow watching moving images while hearing them helped me put them together. (Though I wonder whether a dyslexic person would have the same reaction.)

Everything But the Sky: poems by David Tomaloff and Meg Tuite

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If I post a lot of films by Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon (while still failing to quite keep up with his output), it’s because he’s continually trying new things and not falling into a groove. This is an especially good example of that, blending two poems by two different poets, Meg Tuite and David Tomaloff, into a new whole, and taking its title from an unpublished chapbook they’ve co-authored, Everything But the Sky. It appeared at Gnarled Oak on April 10, along with some explanatory text:

Poem “No Code” & voice by David Tomaloff
Poem “I am walking beside me” by Meg Tuite

Essentially, EVERYTHING BUT THE SKY explores the way that dream logic and interpretation often work in context to ordinary events taking place within our daily lives. Think of it as reverse dream interpretation–each of David Tomaloff’s poems is a dream poem whose images might have been the manifestation of the thoughts, emotions, and events that each of Meg Tuite’s flash pieces describe before it. In this way, each pair of poems is a complete set, and, likely, one could begin to see a greater narrative as one begins joining these sets. –David Tomaloff

I created a soundtrack around David’s own narration of his poem and presented that scape with a (horizontal split screen) film composition with Meg’s poem appearing as text on screen. –Swoon

Having one text appear on-screen while another is delivered via voiceover is an interesting and I think effective way to translate a collaborative poetry project into film. There are some additional process notes on Swoon’s blog, as well as the text of both poems.

Los Nadies (The Nobodies) by Eduardo Galeano

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Spanish director and designer Carlos Salgado made this film for the NGO Africa Directo, evidence of the nearly universal appeal of Eduardo Galeano‘s writing. (Judging at least from my Facebook feed, Galeano’s death on April 13 occasioned much more widespread mourning than the death the same day of the Nobel prizewinner Günter Grass.) “Los Nadies” appears in Galeano’s 1989 collection El libro de los abrazos, translated by Cedric Belfrage and Mark Schafer as The Book of Embraces and described by Library Journal as a “literary scrapbook, mixing memoir, documentary, essay, and prose poem, [which] defies clear-cut genre classification.”

Salgado notes, “The project came through the agency Sra Rushmore to USER T38, which was where we did the animation and post production.” The credits given in the Vimeo description include 2D Animation: Raúl Echegaray and Alberto Sánchez; Additional 2D Animators: Rubén Fernández and Raúl Monge; 3D Artist: Alex Baqué; Compositing: Ezequiel Bluvstein, Eloy Gazol and Roi Prada; Sound: Sonomedia; and Music: José Battaglio.

This take on the poem by German animator Laura Saenger was much more simply produced (“Animation in After Effects, Music editing in Logic Pro”) but is equally beautiful and imaginative, I think.

Árbol de Diana (Diana’s Tree) by Alejandra Pizarnik: three poems

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Piedras Verdes en la Casa de la Noche and Green Stones in the House of Night are Spanish and English versions of the same poetry film by Spanish director Eduardo Yagüe, which includes and responds to three poems from Alejandra Pizarnik‘s brief but epoch-making collection Árbol de Diana (Diana’s Tree). I’ve just been reading and re-reading the marvelous new translation by Yvette Siegert, which was longlisted for the 2015 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. I went back and watched this film with fresh appreciation, having read the verses Yagüe includes in their original context (where they are nos. 6, 8, and 20, with a line from no. 35 supplying the title). The translations by Luis Yagüe in Green Stones in the House of Night are serviceable enough, but if you’re not fluent in Spanish, do get Siegert’s translation to experience the whole collection in its full, luminous intensity.

No volverás / You won’t come back by Alfonsina Storni

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Spanish filmmaker Hernán Talavera‘s interpretation of a text by the great 20th-century Argentinian poet Alfonsina Storni. The description for the English version reads:

“You won’t come back” starts from a poem of Alfonsina Storni, of [her] book “Poems of love” written in 1926 immediately after an unhappy love affair. In the beginning of the book, the poet warns: “These poems are simple phrases of love states written in a few days, some time ago. This small work is neither a literary work nor claims it”. After “Poems of love”, Storni kept silence during nine years.

And here’s the same description in Spanish, from Talavera’s website:

No volverás parte del poema LXVII de Alfonsina Storni extraído de su libro Poemas de amor, escrito en 1926 a raíz de una decepción amorosa. Al inicio del libro, la poeta advierte: “Estos poemas son simples frases de estados de amor escritos en pocos días hace ya algún tiempo. No es pues tan pequeño volumen obra literaria ni lo pretende”. Después de Poemas de amor, Storni estaría nueve años en silencio.

Solar Therapy by Michele S. Cornelius

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This nearly perfect video remix of a poem by Michele S. Cornelius comes to us from Marie Craven, who writes,

Just a few days ago I read a lovely poem called ‘Solar Therapy’ by Alaska-based artist and writer, Michele S. Cornelius and published in the multi-media literary journal, Gnarled Oak. As it happened, I already had images and music on hand, edited together and waiting for a poem that would mix well with them. I recognised the potential in Michele’s piece straight away and completed this video in the 24 hours following the poem’s first public appearance. The music is by Western Australian ensemble, Masonik, whose soundscapes I’ve appreciated over a number of years. This track is called ‘Bending Light For The Magi‘. I sourced it at the Pool group on Facebook, where it was posted on offer for remix. The images are from the royalty-free stock footage site, VideoBlocks. With a minimal piece like this the small details become magnified. I spent a surprising amount of time on minutiae in the editing, especially deciding how to present the phrases of the poem on the screen and where and when the text should best be placed. In the end, as is often the case, simple seemed best.

Click through to read Marie’s process notes on three of her other recent videopoems, as well.