A text by the 20th-century Brazilian poet Cecília Meireles, read and translated into English by the London-based artist Natalie d’Arbeloff, has been translated into film by the indefatigable Belgian videopoet Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon in a lovely and moving tribute to his late mother. He writes:
My mother passed away.
This is a tribute to her and the way she directed her own ending.
For the visual part of the video I used a split screen. Footage of leaves floating, a fish, reflections of leaves (by me), an old tea kettle drifiitng on the sea and the shade of a butterfly (Credit to Jan Eerala)
Sober and tranquil.
I know this work is personal, but I think that the beauty of the grief transcends the personal aspect. Anyway enjoy…
I never met Marc’s mother, but I almost feel as if I knew her, since she appeared in a number of his films over the years. I’m honored to have played a small role here in having brought the translation and reading to Marc’s attention by publishing them at my literary blog Via Negativa.
Spanish director Eduardo Yagüe‘s stunning interpretation of a poem by the early 20th century Mexican poet Amado Nervo, for which I was pleased to be able to contribute the English translation. Pablo Barrangán and Gabriella Roy act. The music is by archiv ev noise.
Eduardo shared some notes on his process:
This year it was my intention to challenge myself to make at least one video with text on the screen. That might be seen as a slight challenge, but not for me. I consider it very difficult to insert the text on the screen at the same time that one is watching the images and not feel lost with the sense of the poem and the images. This is my first video with the text on the screen since Green Stones in the House of Night, where the poems appeared in a very different way.
My inspiration for inserting the text here is the style that Marc Neys (aka Swoon) uses in his videos—neat, clean, precise. I also wanted to maintain the rhythm of the reading in order to not lose the sense of the poem, so here I tried to make a slow but continuous reading of the poem by Amado Nervo. The reason I didn’t use the periods, commas and exclamation marks from the original text is that I felt that they would disturb the cleanness I was looking for, after consulting with Dave Bonta, the translator. I consider this a poetic license.
Thanks to Dave for suggesting I pick one of the translations that he and many others talented translators are making of great poets from Latin America in the Facebook group Poetry from the Other Americas and on Via Negativa. I chose the poem by Amado Nervo in the first place because I prefer to work with short texts now, and also because I found in “Ofertorio” a way of continuing my investigations of religious symbols and themes that I started in my video Consideraciones sobre la luz, based on a poem by Laura M. Kaminski.
I am not obsessed with Catholic imagery but I find it interesting, and I tried to make suggestions with it, trying to renew my vision of it, not being sexually explicit as that could be the easy way. I don’t know if I hit my target, but that was my goal. As inspiration, I used what in Spain are called “Estampas de la Virgen”—those little pictures of the Virgin Mary with a prayer in them.
Other thing I wanted to do in this video was include both texts, English and Spanish, in the same video, rather than making two different videos as I have been doing with my remixes from The Poetry Storehouse, and divide the video into two related parts, using an actor and an actress. I always imagine big scenes while I am preparing the recordings, but I know that at the end I have to adjust my wishes of a grand production to what I actually can do, and that is a beautiful process of searching for simplicity.
I hope you enjoy the result.
A Moving Poems production for a new series of poetry in translation for the group literary blog I contribute to, Via Negativa. Go there for the text of the poem and the translation; the titling on the video disregards both punctuation and lineation in the interest of displaying Spanish and English side by side, in the manner of a bilingual book of poetry. I haven’t seen this done on a bilingual poetry film before, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been — it seems like a fairly obvious arrangement.
As I wrote at Via Negativa, I translated the poem (with some invaluable assistance from Alicia E-Bourdin on Facebook) specifically with the intent of pairing it with that footage of cabbage white butterflies—which, when I shot it last week, I already recognized as having a certain Lugones-like feel. So it was just a question of finding the right poem.
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.