According to the description on YouTube, this is “a book trailer for Jason Heroux’s new poetry collection NATURAL CAPITAL published by Mansfield Press,” though I must say it’s awfully subtle for a trailer — and a very fine videopoem, however one categorizes it. In a blog post introducing the video, Heroux adds that it was made by his brother Darren.
Directed by Egyptian film student and photographer Forat Sami, with acting and narration by Yousef Bakir and sound production by Mohamed Elshazly. For background on the Lebanese-American poet Elia Abu Madi, the Wikipedia has a bare-bones bio.
His poems are very well known among Arabs; journalist Gregory Orfalea wrote that “his poetry is as commonplace and memorized in the Arab world as that of Robert Frost is in ours.”
The complete title of the poem is “For two NATO soldiers who drowned in an attempt to recover supplies from a river in the province of Badghis, Western Afghanistan, November, 2009″; Swoon calls the videopoem Drift. Irish poet Paul Perry’s text contrasts sharply in mood with the video images. As Swoon writes in a blog post:
The main images came not from me but I used footage from the site Beachfront B-Roll. Crisp and clean footage. Idyllic images with water, birds and logs.
Movement and juxtaposition I found with Cullen McHale. This footage of young men, alive, in their prime and having fun with searching kicks in innocent danger forms a perfect contrast with the content of the poem. Yet they tell a story of what was, or could have been.
I only had to add a layer of ‘light’ and some treated photographs to add to the general atmosphere of the video.
Departing from the usual relationship between poetry and animation in which the latter illustrates the former, this animation may be said to exist in dynamic tension or conversation with the text and music. The director, Michael Fragstein of Büro Achter April, told me in an email that his animation came first, and the German-Congolese jazz singer Lisa Tuyula wrote her spoken-word composition in response, following which Marc Fragstein wrote the music that ties it all together.
While I think this was intended more as a music video than a poetry video, the ekphrastic approach is one that poets and animators ought to consider experimenting with.
Director/producer and editor Jacqueline Donahue was assisted by director of photography Nathan Ng and actors Naomi Khanukayev and Sami Lodi. I like the fact that the father in the poem, from whose perspective the film was shot, is never shown, and the relationship between the daughter and a boyfriend adds an interesting dimension to the text (which may be read at the Poetry Foundation website).
For a very different videopoetic interpretation, see Experimental Film: Heart by Coenraad Viviers.