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New essays at Poetryfilmkanal from Javier Robledo, Ram Devineni and Sigrun Höllrigl

The German website Poetryfilmkanal has continued its broad, international focus and clockwork regularity with its weekly series of short essays. On July 12, Vienna-based Art Visuals & Poetry (Film)Festival organizer Sigrun Höllrigl contributed “Meine dreifache Faszination für den Poetry Film“—”My triple fascination with the Poetry Film,” according to Google Translate. She wrote about her differing yet complementary perspectives on the genre as a film curator, as a filmmaker and as a poet.

The poet is sometimes at odds with the requirement that linguistic complexity and formal perfection in the sense of formal hermeticism make the film version of a text very difficult. Not all my lyrical texts are suitable for a cinematic presentation. The meaning of the words must be detectable in film speed. Unlike with a book, there is not a natural pause in the movie. What is needed are simple sentences that offer a meaning to the surface, or recorded speech with poetic touch. Good Poetry Film texts are compacted, reduced, and more minimal in their linguistic complexity compared to a poem. The more reduced, the better the simple text, the more space is created for the image. Repeated words or nonsense lyrics are stylistic devices that have proven their suitability. In Poetry Film autocracy of the picture is resolved by the language.

Last Sunday, it was Ram Devineni’s turn. Devineni is “a filmmaker, publisher and founder of Rattapallax films and magazine,” and his essay addressed “Poetry Film Reality,” championing a style of film focused on the poet that he refers to as a poetry-based film, which he says is an ideal form for many beginning filmmakers as well as a good fit for festival programming. I was especially struck by his conclusion:

Soon this small and vibrant genre is going to be challenged with new technological formats that are already challenging traditional fiction and documentary filmmakers. One such technology is virtual reality (VR) which allows the user to fully immerse themselves into an alternative world through a headset like Oculus VR or Google Cardboard. Some of the best VR stories challenge your senses by bending reality. While others create empathy with the subjects you encounter by allowing you to live their experiences. I think VR is ripe for remarkable collaborations between poets and VR designers for the same reasons poetry-based films were for filmmakers and poets. Currently all VR modules are short because of the lengthy time it takes to create them and the large files sizes that need to be downloaded. Virtual reality, like poetry-based films, lets the designer to interpret the poem and go deep into the metaphors. I am curious what ingenious new work will be created in the new emerging genre of ›virtual reality based poems‹? I am sure someone is working on the first one.

Today’s essay is by Javier Alejandro Robledo, organizer of the long-running Videobardo festival in Buenos Aires: “Die archaische Faszination am Poetryfilm“—”The archaic fascination of Poetry Film.” Judging again by Google Translate, Robledo began his historical overview in the Pleistocene:

The director Werner Herzog showed in an artistic way in his film Cave of Forgotten Pictures how petroglyphs came to move in the wavering light of the torches, and proto-cinematic style was formed. I imagine that these projections were accompanied by dances, music and magical-poetic recitations. The magical significance that is the fascination of such projections is the result of their own origin. The dialogue between the moving image, a poetic word, sound and body is so archaic, its origin a magical ritual — from this the fascination derived. From that archaic form until today, every new technology of audiovisual poetry has given new possibilities of expression and invented new special languages, all of which I want the term “Audiovisual” to encompass.

He too concluded with a look ahead:

Today there are about 15 festivals for poetry films and video poetry in the world. Video poetry will grow and develop. To give an example: holographic projections are a technology in full bloom and will be a new format and a new language for the Video Poetry and the Poetry Film that will fascinate you — in this case even without a screen.

Color of Home by Meena Alexander


With spoken word videos, sometimes setting is everything. Ram Devineni filmed Alexander on the Highline in New York City for a Meena Alexander feature in Issue 3 of Ratapallax magazine. For more on the poet, visit her website.

Young David by Yehuda Amichai (with discussion by Edward Hirsch)


Avi Dabach’s marvelous film interpretation of Amichai’s “Young David” (translated by Abraham Birman) is wrapped within a video introduction and post-film discussion by Bob Holman and Edward Hirsh at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City. Hirsch describes his own, elliptical approach to politics in poetry, and says that Amichai was his major influence and model in this regard.

Nathalie Handal: Poet in Andalucía




As the first film explains, Palestinian poet Nathalie Handal’s new book, Poet in Andalucía, forthcoming from Pitt, “recreates Federico García Lorca’s journey in reverse (from his book POET IN NEW YORK).”

Fearless Laughter: Yusef Komunyakaa’s Advice to Young Poets

A video created by Sampsonia Way magazine for Rattapallax. Komunyakaa was interviewed by Elizabeth Hoover, and the video production and editing are by Glen Wood.

Self Portrait by Edward Hirsch


The wacky folks at Teleportal Readings say about this one:

We filmed esteemed poet Ed Hirsch during a shoot Teleportal did in collaboration with Rattapallax at the Bowery Poetry Club last summer. Though “trippy” isn’t a term we’d normally use to describe Hirsch’s work, the hand-painted, rotoscoped animation by Teleportal art director Scott Gelber makes the poet’s “Self Portrait” just that.

For more on Hirsch, see his page at the Poetry Foundation website.

Inferno (A Poet’s Novel) by Eileen Myles

The reading is evidently an excerpt from Myles’ new book. Update: this is not from Inferno, but a more recent piece (see comments). It takes a little while to get going, but stick with it: the hand-drawn, typographic animation on a green screen behind the reading is unique. It’s the work of Scott Gelber for Teleportal Readings, which includes some additional information:

This is the first of nine videos we shot in collaboration with Rattapallax at the Bowery Poetry Club this summer. That’s BPC founder Bob Holman you hear in the background during the beginning, before he gets whatevered by Eileen. We filmed with a green screen and Scott Gelber added animation after the fact (we’ve yet to perfect the magic of manifesting amazing, hand-drawn typefaces live, but believe us when we say we’re working on it). Eileen’s newest book, Inferno (A Poet’s Novel) is available from OR Books.

And here then is an excerpt from Inferno (via EileenMyles.com).


Finally, here’s a book trailer for Inferno.