~ Filmmaker: Hernán Talavera ~

Balta puķe / The white flower: Latvian folk-poetry

This winner of the 2017 Maldito Festival de Videopoesía, by Spanish artist, filmmaker and videopoet Hernán Talavera, deploys an unspecified quantity of short, anonymous folk poems to great effect.

Dainas are small lyric poems coming from the oral tradition that constitute one of the most important and ancient treasures of Latvia. In 2001, dainas were declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. “Balta puķe” (“The white flower”) is a dialogue between some of these dainas and images recorded in Latvia in the winter of 2015. This dialogue revolves around the concept of “memento mori” -remember that you have to die- that reminds us the inexorability of Death.

Latvian language along with Lithuanian, are considered the most archaic Indo-European languages of those which are spoken today.

webpage (click through for the list of screenings)

Talavera is one of the filmmakers included in Versogramas, a 2017 documentary about videopoetry, in which he said that places are the main characters in his videopoems; he sees them as “little universes.” “Solitude and emptiness are not negative concepts” for him, but provide relief from the suffering caused by our endless quest for stimulation. He added that he frequently removes sound or color from his videos in a “compromise with austerity,” pointing out that “when you close your eyes you may begin to hear better.” One can certainly see this in Balta puķe.

There’s also a version with Spanish subtitles: La flor blanca.

Interiorismo by Hernán Talavera and Chema Araque

First of all, let me make it clear that the director/producers of this film, Hernán Talavera and Chema Araque (A.K.A. Chema Arake) do not claim that it’s a poetry film; that’s my contention. Talavera, also credited as writer, has made films for his own poetry and for poems by Alfonsina Storni and Alejandra Pizarnik, all of which I’ve shared here, and Araque too has made videopoems. But this is a much more ambitious project, a nearly 12-minute portrait of a derelict palace in Spain. It has garnered numerous awards. The directors say:

The corpse of a palace in ruins turns into its own mausoleum.

Interiorism searchs for a Zen vision in which man is totally integrated into his surroundings. That is why Hernán Talavera and Chema Araque highlighted the most organic part of the building, and they watch as nature recovers its primitive space: the light, water, plants, birds, insects… break the barrier between what is natural and what is artificial, by invading a space built for people. Part of the entire process is much like a documentary. The directors walked around the palace many times totally open to any suggestions forthcoming from the place itself. The process took them three years.

What makes it a poetry film, in my estimation, is the inclusion of a text in the soundtrack, a medical diagnosis voiced by Luis Fernando Ríos—or rather, the evocative interplay between that very clinical text and the lyrical montage of images.

No volverás / You won’t come back by Alfonsina Storni


Spanish filmmaker Hernán Talavera‘s interpretation of a text by the great 20th-century Argentinian poet Alfonsina Storni. The description for the English version reads:

“You won’t come back” starts from a poem of Alfonsina Storni, of [her] book “Poems of love” written in 1926 immediately after an unhappy love affair. In the beginning of the book, the poet warns: “These poems are simple phrases of love states written in a few days, some time ago. This small work is neither a literary work nor claims it”. After “Poems of love”, Storni kept silence during nine years.

And here’s the same description in Spanish, from Talavera’s website:

No volverás parte del poema LXVII de Alfonsina Storni extraído de su libro Poemas de amor, escrito en 1926 a raíz de una decepción amorosa. Al inicio del libro, la poeta advierte: “Estos poemas son simples frases de estados de amor escritos en pocos días hace ya algún tiempo. No es pues tan pequeño volumen obra literaria ni lo pretende”. Después de Poemas de amor, Storni estaría nueve años en silencio.

Three poems by Alejandra Pizarnik

I wanted to start the New Year with one of my favorite poets. This is Todo hace el amor con el silencio: tres poemas de Alejandra Pizarnik by Hernán Talavera. Here are the three texts along with some rough translations. (Feel free to suggest improvements in the comments.)

[El olvido]

en la otra orilla de la noche
el amor es posible


llévame entre las dulces sustancias
que mueren cada día en tu memoria


on the other side of night
love is possible

-take me-

take me among sweet substances
which every day vanish from your memory

[no. 22 de “Árbol de Diana”]

en la noche
un espejo para la pequeña muerta
un espejo de cenizas

[from “Tree of Diana,” #22]

in the night
a mirror for the dead little girl
a mirror of ashes

[de Aproximaciones]

La niña que fui
ahora en mi memoria
entre mis muertos.

De lágrimas se nutrirá mil años.
De destierro el sonido de su voz.

[from Approximations]

The girl I was
lives now in my memory
among the dead.

Fed on tears for a millennium.
Exiling the sound of her voice.

Intangible by Hernán Talavera

Text, video and sound are all the work of the award-winning Spanish videoartist Hernán Talavera.