A simple but perfect animation of an Anne Sexton poem by Montreal-based multi-disciplinary artist Ohara Hale, with Maria Popova of the venerable Brain Pickings blog supplying the voiceover. It’s been viewed 136,000 times since Hale posted it to Vimeo in May of 2015. Popova blogged about their collaboration — a great post, too long to reproduce here. A snippet:
Hale’s concept, predicated on the mesmerism of angles, was inspired by legendary neurologist Oliver Sacks and his work on how the blind see the world. It sparked in her a fascination with how they construct a kaleidoscope of angularity, which led her to imagine how a dog is perceived not as a single dog but as a million dogs, each “seen” from a different angle. Many of the angles don’t resemble a “dog” in the pictorial sense but still contribute to the understanding of what a dog is.
This way of deconstructing the world into fragments and reconstructing them into a wholeness of understanding is so different from how we see via regular vision that, as Dr. Sacks so movingly wrote in The Mind’s Eye, the newly sighted are often utterly overwhelmed by having to process information in this new way and revert to “blindness,” closing their eyes and continuing to navigate the world scanning for angles.
Filmmaker TJ ODonnell says, “I added some effects to the soundtrack (whales) to further the feeling that one was slipping slowly under water.” I like the classical piano here, too, which is unusual — many times I’ve decided not to post an otherwise pretty good videopoem because of just such a soundtrack.
I’m not sure of the original provenance of the footage, but these videos appear to have been taped from Spanish TV. According to the text at the beginning, the movie was made on March 10, 1966. Sexton reads “Menstruation at 40” in the first and “Wanting to Die” in the second, and talks about poetry reading styles, why music is better than poetry, and why death is harder to write about than sex.
Here’s another YouTube video incorporating rare footage of the poet: