A video collaboration between Michael Dickes (concept, camera) and Marc Neys/Swoon (editing, music) featuring the words and voice of Gessy Alvarez, with some additional footage from the Prelinger Archives and an appearance by a young actor, Ava Dickes.
One fascinating thing about this collaboration is that Michael Dickes’ original edit, with substantially the same images and the identical soundtrack, is also on Vimeo. Comparing them gives a sense of his and Neys’ different approaches to videopoetry:
I find Dickes’ approach a little less high-brow (for lack of a better term; I’m afraid I’m not a very sophisticated critic) but still reasonably subtle and nuanced. Left completely to his own devices, I’m not sure Neys would’ve included yolk imagery for a poem that so prominently features egg yolks, but to me as a viewer, seeing imagery of some of the things mentioned in a lyric text is not an annoyance as long as the film avoids out-right, narrative-style illustration. Plus, of course, it’s striking footage, which I gather is part of what made Neys so willing to take on the project. Here’s what he blogged about it:
La Curandera is a text by Gessy Alvarez that first appeared in here.
Some time ago Michael Dickes asked me to help him out with a soundtrack for a video he was going to make. I used Gessy’s reading and came up with this track: [SoundCloud embed]
Last week Michael came up with his video for this track. I liked it and I especially loved the structure and the colour of the yolk he had filmed. He asked if I was up for my own edit.
Yes. He provided [me] with all the source material he had used and I played around with the same concept. Concentrating the visual storylines on the yolk, baby, girl, woman.
I had such fun just editing. Cooking’s fun with the right ingredients…
The next issue of Awkword Paper Cut should be out soon, I’m guessing, so we’ll get to see how Dickes presents the two videos. In the meantime, it’s worth mentioning that APC has a well-curated channel on Vimeo, which showcases poetry films along with some other videos of literary interest. Check it out.
Jade Anouka: Poem and Narration
Michael Dickes: Camera & Concept
Filmed on location at 59E59 Theater in
NYC using one camera and 1 lightbulb
on a wire. Kind thanks to theater staff.
Jades voice-over recorded at 48k using an AKG
large diaphram microphone.
Original soundscapes by Erokia (CC) Re-edited
This new collaboration between filmmaker Marc Neys (Swoon) and poet Stevie Ronnie is the result of a unique writing contest at Awkword Paper Cut, which challenged submitters to write a new poem (or re-purpose an old one) in response to footage that Neys provided. Ronnie’s winning poem was one of seven finalists chosen by a distinguished panel of seven judges. The contest results page includes some process notes from Neys:
Footage: The woman in the video is my mother, holding a bust made by my sister of my dead father. Originally, the footage was shot for a video about ‘Roots’ (Heimat). I had made shots of my mother in places that were significant in my youth – our old driveway, my favorite forest, the place I secretly smoked my first cigarette, my first school, etc.
Soundscape: It’s a re-edit of a scape I made inspired after reading James Salter’s All That Is, about an older man looking back on his life and (lost) loves.
There’s also a full-length interview with the poet. Here’s a snippet:
The words were written in direct response to Swoon’s video. I watched it several times without writing anything down at all and then lines began to appear. The poem went through several iterations before falling into its final form. My approach is such that I tend to write without putting too much thought into the intended result but it did feel important to start with the video. I was also conscious of the need to avoid being overly descriptive; to leave some slack between the video and the text for the viewer’s imagination to slip into. I can see the advantages of starting with the images and soundtrack and I’d be keen to work in this way again. I think starting with the video forces me to let go of some of the control that I would usually have when writing a poem. Because I could sense the emotional weight that the video would bring to the final piece I was layering onto that as opposed to inventing the entire world of the poem with my words alone.
Congratulations to Stevie Ronnie, to the other finalists — and to Awkword Paper Cut for a successful and well-executed outcome to this innovative contest.