~ Poet: Sylvia Plath ~

Mirror by Sylvia Plath

Belgian artist Marc Neys adapts Sylvia Plath’s Mirror for this videopoem from mid-2022. He narrates the poem from a Dutch translation by Lucienne Stassaert, giving the video the bilingual title Spiegel/Mirror. As with most of his other films, he composed the ambient music as well.

Regular readers of Moving Poems will know the work of Marc Neys very well from the large number of posts of his work over the past decade. This video from Plath’s poem appears in some ways to be an updated version of one he made in 2014.

Plath’s writing has been adapted for film by other artists here.

The Applicant by Sylvia Plath (3)

A unique twist on the performance poetry video genre from my new favorite channel on Vimeo, Tootight Lautrec’s This Be the Verse.

Tootight Lautrec, the Drag Laureate of the sub-sub-sub basement at PS 75 The Emily Dickinson School, brings you poetry–often as a drag queen lip-sync from archival recordings of poets–This Be The Verse: Poetry for Adults.

This wouldn’t work if Lautrec weren’t very, very good at lip-syncing. In all the years I’ve been combing YouTube and Vimeo for poetry videos, I can’t remember anyone taking this approach before, let alone pulling it off with such panache.

This is the third video for “The Applicant” that I’ve shared here over the years. See also Josep Porcar’s video remix and Maggie Bailey’s interpretative dance.

The Fearful by Sylvia Plath

This is Deceit by Ilhan Alyanak, who describes it on Vimeo as “pretty images for [a] sad poem about lies”. No credits are supplied, but I’m guessing that the recitation is by Alyanak herself, a “D.C based teen with a good camera and an appreciation for pretty things, people and places”. I think though that the images here go well beyond the merely pretty—it’s a striking interpretation of Plath’s poem.

An Interview: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes

This film by Maggie Bailey blends interpretative dance with snippets of a 1961 interview with Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Here’s the description from Vimeo:

An Interview stems from a desire to explore the life of Sylvia Plath. This short film analyzes Plath’s feelings about her relationship with her husband, daily life, and raising her children, through dance and gesture work, paired with excerpts of an interview with Plath and her husband, Ted Hughes. Though she says quite the opposite in this interview, we can infer that she feels a loss of identity and purpose in life, in the midst of caring for a new baby. The year of the interview is 1961, two years prior to Plath’s suicide. Directed & filmed by Maggie Bailey. Edited by Maggie Bailey and Tyler Rubin. Performed by Heather Bybee. Music by Michael Wall. Interview with Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.

Contusion by Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath would’ve been 83 yesterday, and to mark the occasion, Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon released this film, Don’t look at me (Contusion).

It’s not the first time I create a work using her poems. But I consider this my best effort to capture something of her spirit.

Contusion was one of the first poems I wanted to make a video for (5-6 years ago) but I never got a satisfying result out of the process. This time tried a film composition with text on screen and I had a clear idea what kind of images to use. […]

I composed a track especially for this project. Called it ‘Don’t look at me’ (and kept the appropriate title for the film composition) [Bandcamp link].

I had to re-edit the length of the composition to the footage I had gathered. Contusion is a rather short poem (compared to some of her other works).

A lot of night and dusk. Dim images. I especially wanted the footage of a swimming lake (deserted and empty) by Bart van der Gaag. Also some snow and winter footage by Jan Eerala, stuff filmed by me and a few pieces of Videoblocks. I composed all the footage to the lines of the poem (using a small and almost unreadable font and placement of the text by times) and the pace and feel of the soundtrack. I also graded some of the footage for an even darker feel.

As I said before; I’m happy with this one.

Play full screen (and preferably with headphones!)

The Applicant by Sylvia Plath

This is Confessions of a Lacking Pursuit,

Directed, choreographed & edited by Maggie Bailey. Filmed by Paul Nguyen. Performed by Heather Bybee. Sylvia Plath’s recitation of her poem “The Applicant.” Music by Shane Carruth.

Maggie Bailey is majoring in Theatre/Theatre Arts Management and Dance, concentrating in Performance and Choreography, at College of Charleston, according to LinkedIn. Confessions of a Lacking Pursuit was her senior project.

Spiegel / Mirror by Sylvia Plath

Plath’s poem, translated into Dutch by Lucienne Stassaert, is read by Swoon (Marc Neys) as part of the soundtrack for this impressionistic new film (for which he has helpfully also supplied English subtitling). “It’s dark, anything but clear (like a mirror), full of fleeting spirits,” he writes.

Marc seems to be going through an unusually productive period right now, so I may be posting two Swoon videopoems a week until I catch up.

Poppies In July by Sylvia Plath

This is Little Poppies, a student work by Libby Parfitt and Paris Daley, “based on the naturalistic sculpture and black and white photography of Richard Long.”

Edge by Sylvia Plath

UPDATE (3 October 2019): According to a comment (see below) from the maker of the video,

The Poem is from Sylvia Plath and the video making is from Lina Gaitán. The video was made for a film screening in Cali, Colombia, of the movie “Sylvia” by Christine Jeffs.

ORIGINAL POST: According to the description at Vimeo, this videopoem was the opening clip to a 2003 film by New Zealand director Christine Jeffs called Sylvia. Lina Gaitán supplied both the reading in English and the Spanish translation for the subtitles. The introductory text in Spanish points out that this was Plath’s last poem, written four days before her suicide (though other sources claim it was written six days earlier, on the same day as another poem, “Balloons”).

The Applicant by Sylvia Plath

A four-year-old video montage by Josep Porcar, using Plath’s own reading, with subtitles in Catalan by Montserrat Abelló.

Mirror by Sylvia Plath

A brilliant text animation of Plath’s 1961 poem with images from vintage print advertisements. It’s the work of the New Zealand-based designer Kylie May, née Kylie Hibbert — the name under which she made this film and another in 2005, part of a “postgraduate study exploring the visual language of poetry” she called the Belles Lettres project.

By transforming the written words of poetry into choreographed kinetic performance the project seeks to expand typographical conventions of traditional published poetry. The research project utilises the poetry of Emily Dickinson’s (1862) I died for beauty and Sylvia Plath’s (1961) Mirror, to explore the potential of paralinguistics and poetry as emotive narrative. These two poetic voices are fused by intimate revelations of anxiety, which have relevance in today’s society.

Both films were shortlisted for the 2006 Berlin ZEBRA Poetry Film Awards, Mirror attracting a finalist placing.

PLEASE NOTE: Music used under the AUT screenrights license. For academic research purposes only.

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’