Swoon is a Belgian poet filmmaker who makes films that try to blur the boundary between written poem and moving image. He mixes his own footage with found footage and sometimes mixes his own words with others. I like the quiet easy tone of his work. I like his manipulation of imagery. His work is a very difficult kind of work because it tries to make something new from two different things. Poetry is a perfect form all by itself. But film is never satisfied. It’s always looking for something to include within it. So it’s natural for film to go looking for poetry and try to bring it in. But poetry resists all alliances. Poetry seems content and willing to wait for centuries. It requires nothing. It doesn’t care what film wants. It will sit on a dry page in some crowded shelf somewhere waiting six hundred years for just a single pair of eyes to come along in boredom, open to the page, glance in, read half-way down and then slap the book shut for another six hundred years until someone decides to finish reading the goddamn thing. That’s patience. Film doesn’t have that. Film must be seen now or it withers. It begins to rot. Even if it’s digital. Digital films become confused and get lost in the forest of other digits. They may never find their way out again. So working with the two things and trying to get them together is very difficult but may actually make perfect sense.
This is a film poem triptych that is Swoon’s first work to include his own words. There’s a site for the film with more information.
This incredibly beautiful edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven’ was published in 1884 with illustrations by Paul Gustave Doré. Click on the images to see full sizes.
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore–
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door–
Only this and nothing more.”
Really frightening film adaptation of Goethe’s Der Erlkönig. Raymond Salvatore Harmon made this film that revels in the dark terror of fairy tales. It’s a densely layered film that conveys the sense of riding through the forest beautifully. Those trees keep going by and the dolls bounce along on their horse. Amazing! I love terrifying fairy tales! A child, held tight in his father’s arms, senses a supernatural being of some sort approaching. You’ve got to pay attention to this one right up to the end!
It’s almost here. April will be National Poetry Month, during which we celebrate the placement of words into various shapes, patterns and meanings that only a select few can decipher. Don’t worry, if you saw the poetry reading at the most recent Presidential Inauguration, she was only placed at the podium to intercept bullets. That has nothing to do with poetry.
For those of us fortunate and intelligent enough to avoid the study of poetry in a university, the month of April can be a strangely rewarding treat. It’s an awkward and sort of a lame month of celebration, but it works. Don’t ask me why. Just think of yourself as being in the National Poetry Month and walk into a good bookstore and go to the poetry shelf to see what happens. If you’re a total dumbass, nothing will happen of course. But if you can read, you might start wondering why words make you want to have a coffee, or a piece of bread, or some wine, or cheese, or wear a hat, or some old boots.
I think I am going to celebrate Poetry Month by posting parts of my unfinished new video. It mixes images, music, and words to make something that can really only be explained in terms of poetry anyway. So I claim the right, during National Poetry Month, to be somewhat mysterious, cryptic, unfinished, insulting, fuzzy, indulgent, and unintelligible.