My poem “32 Warhol” is now a beautiful poem film. A story about childhood, art and hunger, the film was shot by filmmaker Jerimiah Whitlock, and was translated to German and narrated by Hong Kong based poet, editor, and publisher Bjorn Wahsltrom. I am awed by Jerimiah’s vision and production. The result reminds me of director Wim Wenders.
The poem itself was written on a farm in the Oregon woods, where I live, and the film itself was shot and produced in Colorado. The German translation and narration was provided by a Swede then living in Shanghai, China. The world is such a huge and tiny place.
The film made its debut at The Body Electric Film Festival in Ft. Collins, Colorado last month. We have plans to have it screened across the world.
In the post on Vimeo, Whitlock includes the following artist’s statement:
Poetry is traditionally disseminated by the written word or the act of the poet reading to an audience. By creating video poems that not only share the written word but illustrate it in layers of sound, visuals, vocals, and even translations to other languages, the artist hope to help put to rest the idea that poetry is dead. Indeed, it is a form or art that can live as anything from sculpture, to performance, to film. Poetry is one of our oldest known forms of structured communication. Our hope is to see it grow older by bringing it to wider audiences in modern ways. Poetry deserves the eternal life. One day we hope to see an elaborate library dedicated only to poetry in all its modern forms, including shelves and shelves of video poetry. Let no one hunger for verse.
Dena Rash Guzman supplies the words and voice for a Swoon video that includes footage from a 1915 version of Alice in Wonderland by W.W. Young. Guzman “wrote the poem inspired by raw footage and sounds send to her by Swoon,” according to the description on Vimeo, following which he re-edited the footage and added the silent film images.
It’s always interesting to see the results of such close collaborations between filmmaker and poet. Swoon goes into much more detail in a post at his blog. At one point in the process, he emailed Guzman:
I chose ‘Alice in Wonderland’ footage to layer with the ‘dirt-video’ you knew.
The images do not glide or work together, they seem to ‘interfere’
(Wikipedia: “The phenomenon of retroactive interference is highly significant in the study of memory as it has sparked a historical and ongoing debate in regards to whether the process of forgetting is due to the interference of other competing stimuli, or rather the unlearning of the forgotten material.”)
Your poem is full of warm memories on one side (though nobody loves to have lice, I guess) but I wanted to use some kind of ‘luring danger’ (the rabit) as a kind of visual ‘counterpoint’ with the darker music as guide to the unknown that is outside…
Swoon also quotes Guzman’s summary of the experience:
I love writing from prompts and so when you sent me the video and sound samples I sat down to ingest them like a glass of wine. I kind of meditated on the titles of the samples and the content itself and began firing off poem after poem. Dirt was the inspiration for the poem you selected. Dirt makes me think of earth, soil, dust, decay. It’s not dirty, though it can impose itself to make things so. For me, dirt is a host for the living, and that brought me to a childhood experience: I got lice at school when I was 8.
It was exciting to take your work, give you mine, and get your work back. I’m a fan of Poem films and yours in particular and it was a great experience.