De Tak / The Branch (La Branche) by Yves Bonnefoy

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And I return, a shadow on the white ground,
To your sleep that haunts my memory,
I pluck you from your dream, which scatters,
Being only water filled with light.

To mark the July 1 death of the great Yves Bonnefoy, Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon made public what he called “an older (and personal) videopoem, never released before,” featuring his own reading of Bonnefoy’s poem “La Branche” in a Dutch translation by Jan H. Mysjkin with the English translation by Alison Croggon in subtitles.

Where Commuters Run Over Black Children, 1971 by Lillien Waller

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Generally, I think my work is interested in how history bears down on the individual and on communities, how it affects people’s lives in large ways, as in social policy, but also in kind of the small things that trickle down, like how much glass is on your kid’s playground.

For Fourth of July weekend, here’s a portrait of Detroit-based poet Lillien Waller combining interview excerpts with historic footage and Waller’s recitation of her poem. It was directed by Oren Goldenberg (Cass Corridor Films) for Kresge Arts in Detroit, where Waller was a Literary Arts Fellow in 2015. The soundtrack incorporates music by Sterling Toles.

When spring slams birds on trees by Tuija Välipakka

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Finnish poet Tuija Välipakka‘s words, translated by Pirjo Raila, appear as text on screen in this film by Tuija’s daughter Mikaela Välipakka. (There’s also a version in Swedish, I assume the original poem: När våren slungar fåglarna i träden.) The music is by Eemeli Sutalainen. The description at Vimeo reads:

Life is an endless stream where birth and death aren’t static. We exist before our birth and we live as long as even one remembers us.

Two poems by Tarfia Faizullah

This video produced for Voluble incorporates two stylistically distinct, musically compelling video remixes for poems by Tarfia Faizullah, “Feast or Famine” and “Love Poem Ending with the Eye of a Needle.” Faizullah notes in a YouTube comment that

this was a result of a collaboration between me, emcee and producer Brooklyn Shanti, and tabla player and activist Robin Sukhadia. The film for the second poem is sampled from Sita Sings the Blues, an animated film that the director made available through Creative Commons. The footage for the first is tourist footage of Bangladesh.

Sweet Liquor by Malika Booker

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The latest film in the Dancing Words project directed by Fiona Melville (with creative direction from Nathalie Teitler) pairs poet Malika Booker and dancer/choreographer Leon Rose. Here’s the description from the project website:

Sweet Liquor is a collaboration between renowned black British poet, Malika Booker and dancer/choreographer Leon Rose. The poem is taken from Booker’s prize winning collection Pepper Seed (Peepal Tree Press) and explores the world of the soca fete. It tells the story of a young Caribbean soldier, recently returned from war with psychological scars, who finds out that he has been re-drafted.

The piece explores a dance-poetry collaboration in which the dance centers around social dancing: its impact on the individual and the community. The aim was to make something experimental and edgy with a political message. In selecting the dancer/choreographer the goal was to find someone who would look totally natural dancing soca, as well as being a skilled professional dancer/choreographer. Latin and contemporary dancer, internationally known Leon Rose, who has twenty years of dance and choreography experience, was the perfect choice: both he and Malika have been going to Carnival since they were a few months old. Their mothers would argue that they took part in Carnival while in the womb. When the piece was being filmed, it quickly became clear that there was something magical in the way the two artists danced together; it spoke both of the relationship between the man and the woman in the poem, but also spoke to the wider relationships between genders in this part of the world. Here we see a woman as the strong voice and rock able to contain and comfort a young, damaged man. Combined with the beautiful and haunting pan music of composer Kyron Akal, (composed for this piece) the result was a piece which challenges stereotypes of soca and carnival and brings a beautiful, fierce poem to life.

Starfish Aorta Colossus (excerpt) by Paolo Javier

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Filmmakers Lynne Sachs and Sean Hanley collaborated on this piece in response to a text by the Filipino American poet Paolo Javier. Here’s the description from Vimeo:

Starfish Aorta Colossus
poem by Paolo Javier
film Lynne Sachs and Sean Hanley
4 1/2 min., 2015

Poetry watches film. Film reads poetry. Paolo Javier’s text is a catalyst for the digital sculpting of an 8mm Kodachrome canvas. Syntactical ruptures and the celebration of nouns illuminate twenty-five years of rediscovered film journeys.

NYC poet Paolo Javier invited filmmaker Lynne Sachs to create a film that would speak to one of his poems from his newly published book Court of the Dragon (Nightboat Books). Sachs chose Stanza 10 from Javier’s poem “Starfish Aorta Colossus”. She then decided to collaborate with film artist Sean Hanley in the editing of the film. Together, they traveled through 25 years of unsplit Regular 8 mm film that Sachs had shot — including footage of the A.I.D.S. Quilt from the late 1980s, a drive from Florida to San Francisco, and a journey into a very untouristic part of Puerto Rico. Throughout the process, Sachs and Hanley explore the celebration of nouns and the haunting resonances of Javier’s poetry.

Regular 8 mm film shot by Lynne Sachs
Edit by Sean Hanley with Lynne Sachs

The Future is Here by Bianca Stone

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“Nothing bad can touch this life I haven’t already imagined.” This stunning black-and-white poetry film from UK filmmaker Helen Dewbery and US poet Bianca Stone should serve as a reminder—if any were needed—of the power of international collaboration on this day when the advocates for Little England seem to have triumphed. The poem is from Stone’s 2014 collection Someone Else’s Wedding Vows. Colin Heaney composed the music.