Tango Two & The Singer’s Hands by Gary Barwin


It’s fascinating to see what an imaginative experimental poet can do with a given text. The contrast in visuals here couldn’t be more striking, but the text beginning with “life is long” is identical (though The Singer’s Hand does begin with a separate text as well). Gary Barwin explains what he was up to with the latter in a blog post:

Of course, Ukraine has been on my mind lately, like it has been on everyone’s mind. Yesterday, someone on my Facebook feed posted a field recording of an old Ukrainian woman singing. I was very struck by the song and her haunting voice as well as by her powerful presence. However, the thing that struck me the most was her hands: strong, thick and always moving as she sang. They were very expressive: a life, emotions, age, strength. So, I made this video using two of my poems which I feel relate to loss, strength, war, grief and love; I feel like they connect to a sense of what is happening now.

I used a close-up of this singer’s hands in this video as well as introducing other visual elements. The music is a remix that I did (adding various clarinets and saxophones plus a bunch of electronics) to a recording of a rehearsal which my sister-in-law Pam Campbell sent me of her singing with her group Tupan.

The post goes on to share both poems as plain text, “Blue Train” and the untitled one from “Tango Two.”

For more on Gary Barwin (including links to his books), visit his website.

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