On the stars outside by Dena Rash Guzman

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.


  1. Reply
    Monica Storss 2 October, 2012

    Swoon, this is beautiful. I love this.
    This is what creative collaboration can do.

  2. Reply
    Erica Goss 8 October, 2012

    This shows Swoon’s artistry with images and words, as well as his skill in creating moods. Well done!

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