Poet: Luisa A. Igloria

To Unravel a Torment You Must Begin Somewhere by Luisa A. Igloria

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Another wonderful film from the 2019 Visible Poetry Project, this is To Unravel a Torment You Must Begin Somewhere, written and spoken by Luisa A. Igloria and directed by Emily Kalish.

Luisa’s poem is exquisitely lyrical, as with all the writing I’ve read from her at Via Negativa, where the poem for this film was originally published. As with much of her work, it contains deep, melancholy reflections on being a woman travelling life’s seasons.

A friend tells me
her daughter once confided:
I want a life
different from yours.

I’ve been there,
and also been that wish.

Emily Kalish’s cinematic treatment of the poem is understated and beautifully formed, with a visual focus on twilight shades of lilac, a colour at once gentle and emotive. It features the close, intimate figure of a woman alone with trees and sky, as well as at home, where we see her crafting needle work. The translation from page to film imbues the poem with a new level of meaning, suggesting creativity as a kind of companion, or a thread holding a woman steady through pain and uplift over time.

Based in Los Angeles, Emily received her MFA in Film Production from USC School of Cinematic Arts. She is currently a freelance cinematographer shooting projects in NYC, Panama, and Paris.

Luisa has been writing at least a poem a day since 2010, most of them published. Her work has been widely awarded, including the Philippines’ highest literary distinction, the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature. In 1996 she became the first Filipina woman of letters installed in the Palanca Literary Hall of Fame. Other recognition includes the Charles Goodnow Endowed Award for Creative Writing from the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois Arts Council Literary Award, and the George Kent Prize for Poetry.

Visible Poetry Project is now calling for submissions from poets and film-makers internationally for their 2020 season, with an emphasis on artists who may be marginalised. Production of the films will take place over the end of 2019 into early 2020, leading up to the release of at least 30 new poetry films in April, National Poetry Month in the USA.

Half-life by Luisa A. Igloria

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Two Moving Poems regulars—filmmaker Eduardo Yagüe and poet Luisa A. Igloria—in their first collaboration, a film for the Visible Poetry Project. Luisa provided the voiceover, and the actress, as in so many of Eduardo’s poetry films, is the wonderful Gabriella Roy. The music is an original composition by Four Hands Project. The poem originally appeared on Via Negativa, the literary blog I share with Luisa, last October.

Luisa had another poetry video this spring, too: Marc Neys (a.k.a. Swoon) made the trailer for her latest collection of poems, The Buddha Wonders if She is Having a Mid-Life Crisis.

What is a soul? by Luisa A. Igloria

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I recently returned to Pennsylvania after a summer in London, and on my way out of Newark, New Jersey, I shot a brief cellphone video through the dusty window of a Greyhound bus, capturing some remarkable murals on a wall beneath a train line. After I got home and recovered from jet-lag a bit, it occurred to me that the footage might make an interesting pairing with a short poem by Luisa A. Igloria, which she’d just posted to the literary blog we share, Via Negativa. Footage shot from car, bus and (especially) train windows is of course exceedingly common in videopoetry, but I’m hoping my use of moving text saves this instance of it from cliché. I liked the juddering racket of the bus, preserving it as-is in the soundtrack even after I slowed the clip down.

I Too Come From by Luisa A. Igloria

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This new poetry film by the always interesting Lori H. Ersolmaz is an adaptation of a poem from The Poetry Storehouse by Luisa A. Igloria, and includes the author’s own reading in the soundtrack. Ersolmaz incorporated archival footage from the newly available Pond5 Public Domain Project and sound effects from Freesound.org.

Read Lori’s process notes, “Beginning with the End in Mind,” at Moving Poems Magazine.

To / For by Luisa A. Igloria

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A text-on-screen-style videopoem by Swoon (Marc Neys) with a text from Night Willow, a 2014 collection of prose poems by Luisa A. Igloria. Back in September, Marc blogged some process notes about the video, calling it “The latest experiment in my series of videos where I re-think the relationship of image, sound, and text”.

Combining lines from the poem with the suitable footage, trying out different fonts and sizes for the text on screen, placement of words… It’s a puzzling way of editing.
I’m not only editing film anymore, I’m carefully trying to blend sound, image and text in one cut. It feels more like composing. It makes me rethink the way I worked (and still work) with audible videopoems.

These ‘film Compositions’ are meant to be played full screen and loud!

Marc talked about this style of editing in a brief interview I filmed for Moving Poems, Swoon on finding a new angle in videopoetry composition.

When nights are longest by Luisa A. Igloria

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Happy Holidays to all Moving Poems readers/viewers. This is a joint production of Moving Poems and Via Negativa, where Luisa A. Igloria and I blog daily poems. Via Negativa began in mid-December 2003, and this time of year “when nights are longest” has always seemed full of creative possibilities to me. So I found a mysterious, dark but light-filled home move at the Prelinger Archives, selected and arranged some of the images into a composition that made sense to me, emailed the link to Luisa and asked her if she thought she could find a poem in it. Indeed she could! After a little back-and-forth about the title and opening lines, she settled on a final form for the text and sent me a reading that she recorded with her mobile phone. I found a Creative Commons-licensed sound recording on SoundCloud through my usual method of clicking on random links and trusting in serendipity: it’s a field recording by Marc Weidenbaum of Phil Kline’s “Unsilent Night” boombox procession passing a certain point in the streets of San Francisco on December 18, 2010.

Moving Poems will be taking the rest of the week off, but will be back on the 29th.

Foretold by Luisa A. Igloria

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Marc Neys, A.K.A. Swoon, probably needs no introduction here. Nor was this the first time he’s ever worked with a poem by Luisa A. Igloria, though this may be my favorite of their collaborations to date. And their usual working order was reversed, because Luisa’s poem was written in response to a “first draft” of the video, one of the three prompts in the Poetry Storehouse First Anniversary Contest. Poetry judge Jessica Piazza selected Luisa’s poem as a runner-up:

Foretold

In that future which pressed
ever closer toward us, time was a room

whose shape we could no longer determine.
In every city, men stood on platforms

gesticulating and making pronouncements.
Armored tanks rolled into the last

encampments, leaving tracks in the river’s
boiled mud. We knew when to flee,

what to gather up, what to leave behind.
We walked deeper into blind forests,

climbed as high as our feet allowed
up the thinned hair of trees. They let us

cocoon there, they let us make hammocks.
At night, we watched as distant flares

limned the unnavigable horizon.
At night, some of us told stories,

making shadows with our hands
to mimic the movement of wings.

Marc explained how he put together the video used in the contest:

I had footage of several Psychic TV performances by Allan Chumak. Once, I re-edited a bunch of them for a collab with another poet, but that didn’t happen. The cuts were not wasted and waited on the shelves for another occasion.

I had also footage of an ASMR performance by Epehemeral Rift waiting to be used.

Around the time of the Poetry Storehouse contest proposals, I thought it might be a good idea to put those two pieces of footage together. For the purpose of viewing quality I added an extra layer of light and colour to the Ephemeral Rift recordings. Not really a match, but an interesting pairing.

I created a track and edited the different pieces loosely to the music, hoping it would give some writers an idea.

Luisa told us:

My writing process in response to Marc’s video, which resulted in the poem “Foretold,” was to open two screens on my computer: on the left side, Marc’s video, and on the right, the first page of a new (blank) Word document. I decided that I was going to compose—start immediately to write—as soon as the video started. Almost all of the poem’s lines were generated exactly in this manner, with very slight revisions afterwards (mostly having to do with lineation and spacing, tightening some of my word choices). In Marc’s film, the images—and their strategic juxtaposition—were immediately striking, as was his choice to strip them of sound and instead use music and ambient sound. Though I realized they may not have had anything specifically to do with each other, their pairing in the film’s sequences began to suggest an underlying narrative to me, filled with foreboding and portent. The occurrences of repetition in the film suggested that. The closeups of hands and mouths spoke to me of something both very intimate and very distant, and in some instances those mouths looked as if they could very well be on the verge of varying emotions: rage, for instance; or pleasure, or fear.

Marc added:

Once I got Luisa’s poem, it all came together perfectly. Suddenly these images and their pairing become very political. Nic S. provided a very suitable reading for the track. It all needed a bit of re-editing (in length and pace), but the main visual idea is still the same, but much more powerful because of Luisa’s fantastic poem.