A new Moving Poems production, remixing Vallejo’s classic poem prognosticating his own death with time-lapse photography and Creative Commons-licensed music (from Magna Ingress). For the translation, I enlisted the help of some friends with better Spanish than mine: Jean Morris and Natalie d’Arbeloff, among others, on the Poetry from the Other Americas Facebook group. Another member of the group, the Spanish filmmaker and actor Eduardo Yagüe, was kind enough to supply the voiceover.
Shockingly, this is the first Vallejo poem on Moving Poems. I can’t think of any other Latin American poet of his stature whom I’ve so neglected. I did make one other video for a poem of his some years ago, but I guess I must’ve decided it wasn’t quite up to snuff.
The great Chilean poet Nicanor Parra died on January 23 at the age of 103, so I wanted to make a video for one of his poems as a tribute, especially since there didn’t seem to be any real videopoems or poetry films of his work on the web. I asked some fellow fans of Latin American poetry on Facebook for suggestions of poems, and “El hombre imaginario” came up. It had been translated before—by Edith Grossman, no less—but we all found her decision to depart from the plain meaning of the text in order to imitate the word order of Spanish odd and unfortunate. The Spanish poetry-filmmaker Eduardo Yagüe is a member of the group, and agreed to read the poem for the soundtrack when I mentioned I had an idea for a videopoem. I found the music—an accordion track by the composer Steven O’Brien—on Soundcloud, and the footage was something I’d downloaded from the one-person stock video channel Beachfront B-Roll a while ago.
Two different appreciations of Parra have appeared in major North American literary magazines in recent days: “Nicanor Parra, the Alpha-Male Poet” by David Unger in The Paris Review blog, and “Remembering Nicanor Parra, the Almost Immortal Chilean Poet” by Alejandro Zambra in The New Yorker.
I used the reading on Lyrikline (Audio production: Casa Fernando Pessoa, Lisboa 2004 ) to create the soundtrack. The audio version is based on a former version of the poem before called ‘Maturidade 2’
The translation [by Ana Hudson] was used as subtitles.
Bernardo Pinto de Almeida has a natural capacity for weaving a cloth so that the poem reveals itself as if a picture of a living body on a canvas of words and images.’
(Guy Barker, British poet, 1964-2009)
Guy Barker’s quote (and the content of the poem) led me back to the footage Eduardo Yagüe made for me during the summer of 2014.
I guess I almost used every bit he filmed and am grateful for his ‘eye’
Bringing it all together was fairly easy.
I graded some of the footage for a higher contrast.
It was the flow of the reading and the pace of the music that gently steered me to the cutting choices I made. [links added]