~ Filmmaker: Marc Neys ~

Fable by Howie Good: Moving Poems contest winners (2)

1ST PLACE: Swoon

This video captures the nightmarish aura of the poem, but at the same time becomes a separate work of art. It does more than interpret the poem; it reinvents the poem in a new medium. Its propulsive imagery, editing, and soundtrack create an unnerving sense of urgency that the original never attained, but that it greatly profits from in its second life as a video.


2ND PLACE: Rachel Laine

This video gives precedence to the poem’s words, but without sacrificing or marginalizing visuals. In fact, the dense, gloomy background visuals and monotone music heighten the tragic sense of the poem, punctuating its doomsday storyline and elegiac atmosphere.


3RD PLACE: James Brush

The most visually crisp of the videos submitted, it also uses some of the most unexpected imagery, as when the word “cornfield” is blackened out in the text. And how can you not love that ukele being plinked in the background.


Thanks again to all the entrants, congratulations to the winners, and thanks to Howie for acting as judge. (Those are his blurbs for each of the prize winners.) I’m very pleased with how this contest turned out: the goal was to showcase a diversity of approaches to the poetry-film or videopoetry genre, and I think we succeeded in doing that.

I am very open to suggestions for future contests. I don’t want to sponsor contests so often that they become a chore, but I’m not sure I want to wait a whole year before doing another one, either, so maybe in three to six months… I also don’t want to do the exact same thing next time with a different poem, unless perhaps it’s a radically different kind of poem; I’d rather come up with a novel challenge. Feel free to email me or leave comments with your ideas.

Of Wel (or shall it) by Marleen de Crée

Update July 2012: Now with a new translation by Annmarie Sauer.

The second of the two Marleen de Crée poems translated and voiced by Arlekeno Anselmo for a film by Swoon (see yesterday’s post for background on the poet).

Nog Niet / Not Yet by Marleen de Crée

Update, July 2012: Now with a new translation by Annmarie Sauer and credit for voice and concept to Katrijn Clemer.

This is the first of two new videopoems I’ll be sharing for work by a prominent Belgian poet. Marleen de Crée has published 15 poetry collections to date, garnering various prizes (the Maurice Gilliam Award, the August Beernaert Prize of the Royal Academy of Dutch Language and Literature, and the prize of the Flemish Poetry Day). She’s also a visual artist who works in various media, and has had many individual and group exhibitions in Belgium and the Netherlands from 1964 to the present.

This information came via email from Swoon, the filmmaker here in collaboration with Arlekeno Anselmo, whom he credits with “Voice, idea & face” — and, critically, the translation. Those who know Dutch and prefer it without subtitles can watch the original version on Vimeo. As Swoon explained in his email: “For her last book ‘Het is niet de lava’ (It’s not the lava) I made 2 videopoems with a dutchspeaking voice. For a video-festival (FAFF 2011) I made 2 versions with subtitles (I don’t know if our translations do the poem any justice, but the festival prefered subtitles, so…)”

Giddoo by Yahia Lababidi

“Sleepdancing (Giddoo)” is the latest collaboration between Belgian artist and composer Swoon and expatriate Egyptian poet Yahia Lababidi, and is as different from its predecessors as can be (while still remaining recognizably a Swoon video). The decision not to include a reading of the text in the soundtrack seems appropriate for the subject matter.

Words by Yahia Lababidi

I’m having a hard time keeping up with the videos Swoon has been making for Lababidi’s poems. This one incorporates Dutch sign language by Marjan De Cuyper and painting by Arlekeno Anselmo for a truly multimedia and multinational exploration of, and exploring through, language.

What do animals dream? by Yahia Lababidi


Another collaboration between the Belgian artist Swoon (videotreats, editing, music and production) and Egyptian writer Yahia Lababidi (poem and reading). Arlekeno Anselmo provided additional whispering and speaking voice in Dutch.

(Updated version of the video. Selected for and screened at Bideodromo, Bilbao (Spain), 2011; selected for and screened at Visible Verse, Vancouver, 2011; and screened at the Neustadt Festival, Oklahoma, 2011.)

Shuttered Windows by Yahia Lababidi

Update: Video has been made private.

Swoon has been busy lately, so again we end the week with one of his creations. This one’s based on a poem by Yahia Lababidi — a collaboration sparked, I think, by this very blog. Which makes me happy.

Lament by Dylan Thomas

Update: Video has been made private.

Swoon is at it again with a compelling contrast of public and private moods.

Based on the poem ‘Lament’ by Dylan Thomas (read by himself)
The lament for (his) decay together with the lament for growing protests (Prague 68 – Cairo 11) against the positive growth in nature. Everything in life evolves…hopefully for the best.

Siren Song by Margaret Atwood

A new videopoem by Belgian artist and composer Swoon. According to the notes at his blog, he first composed the music and found film images to match, then decided to add the poem:

I took some time working on a piece of music (first hunted, frightened. Melancholic other) with matching images.
Memories of what never was. The attraction between man and woman. A farewell. The impossibility of things undone.
A rabbit.

Somehow the words of Atwood gave the necessary lightness (counterweight) and they added an extra layer.

(Thus, at any rate, Google Translate.) Who knew a pet rabbit could be capable of such gravitas?

November Graveyard by Sylvia Plath

Update: Video has been made private.

A new videopoem by Swoon titled “Red Lost Ghosts” remixes an old audio recording of Plath with other audio samples, video and stills to very good effect in what he calls

A remembrance-piece for Birkenau.
Not the blunt and awful images of the place, but the those images of horror hidden behind the automation of a wind-up-toy and the slight hope of some ‘forget-me-nots’
For the hope we will not forget that awful ‘machine’

Evidently Chickentown by John Cooper Clarke

Update: Video has been made private.

A film called Ochlofobie by Belgian artist Swoon, who also supplied the music. British performance poet John Cooper Clarke is responsible for text and voice.

Here’s a video of Clarke doing the poem at a live reading from 2008: