Since 2002 Literaturwerkstatt Berlin, which is also home to lyrikline.org, has been organising the biannual ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival, showing short films that are audio-visual realisations of one or more poems. At this point, the archive is already filled with thousands of entries from the past 10 years. They show the exciting and multifaceted approaches of artists from different cultures to combining poetry and film. Works are sent from all over the world that range classic motion picture to animated shorts, video and media art, poetry performance clips, and documentaries about poets. They’re based on poetry from Shakespeare to sound poems. The filmmakers’ individual conceptions are as varied as the names they attribute to their works: poetry videos, videopoetry, poetry film, filmpoetry, poetry clip, cinepoem and more.
Diverse as the entries might be, there’s one thing that all the good ones have in common: they succeed if one can experience in some way a clever and maybe even poetic relationship and correspondence between the words and images. When poetic principles and features, such as rhythm, tempo, meter, imagery, denseness, and tone unfold, poetry and film together can reach another level and merge into something unique.
On the occasion of this year’s UNESCO World Poetry Day, next to publishing many new poets on lyrikline.org, we collected statements focusing on poetry & film from filmmakers, poets, and film and literary scholars (see below). Many thanks to Paul Bogaert, Avi Dabach, Tom Konyves, J.P. Sipilä, and Uljana Wolf!
If you would like to join the discussion about poetry and film, the audio-visual realisation of poetry and its many variations, or see more films, please visit the ZEBRA Facebook page, the ZEBRA youtube channel or explore Moving Poems, an online anthology of poetry videos.
I am interested in the most advanced form of poetry film; I call the form videopoetry and I define it as “a genre of poetry displayed on a screen, distinguished by its time-based, poetic juxtaposition of images with text and sound.”
It has two constraints: (1) Text, displayed on-screen or voiced, is an essential element of the videopoem (work which does not contain visible or audible text could be described as poetic, as an art film or video art, but not as a videopoem); and (2) the imagery in a videopoem – including on-screen text – does not illustrate the voiced text.
The key to a good videopoem is balance – the weighing of image-text relationships for their suggestive (rather than illustrative) qualities, the determining of durations, the positioning and appearance of text, the proportioning of color, the layering of the soundtrack, the acceleration or deceleration of elements, etc. In the editing or “montage” phase, syntactical decisions are made to render image-text-sound juxtapositions as a metaphor for simultaneous “meanings”, which the viewer interprets as a poetic experience.
Here’s a poetry film that impressed me:
Claire Walka’s “Kleine Reise” (A Little Trip) – In our everyday lives, the artist finds clues to poetry; commonplace details, like the lines of a poem, are placed and sequenced with the aid of a video camera and intimate whispers.
Tom Konyves produced his first videopoem in 1978; for the past 3 years, he has been visiting film and video archives, researching and presenting talks about the form.
What I do is videopoetry. It has a somewhat different approach to film and poetry than poetry film. I see poetry films as visual and kinetic illustrations of certain poems. But as far as videopoetry is concerned, video and sound are not mere reflections of certain poems, but a puzzle or juxtaposition of the three elements (video, sound and text). As videopoet Tom Konyves says: “”Videopoetry is a genre of poetry displayed on a screen, distinguished by its time-based, poetic juxtaposition of text with images and sound. In the measured blending of these 3 elements, it produces in the viewer the realization of a poetic experience.”
A good videopoem creates a new overall poetic experience from the three elements used. For me the video is the paper and screen is the mouth of my poetry.
Sound and visual aspects have always had a huge effect on my poetry. I usually read poetry while listening music and when I see a piece of art I somehow automatically start thinking a story or a feeling behind it. Using video as a medium for my poetry was a step that was just waiting to be taken.
Here’s a poetry film that impressed me:
This piece dating back to 1978 can be considered the first videopoem, the starting point of it all, if I may say so. Of course there have been films and works that could be somehow understood as videopoetry in the past, for example Jean Cocteau’s Le Sang d’un Poète from 1930. However this piece by Tom Konyves entitled Sympathies of War is something that made way for a new genre of poetry. Something that is nowadays known as videopoetry.
J.P. Sipilä is a Finnish poet. He released his first book of poetry in 2006 and began making videopoems at the same time.
Like a translation, and like poetry itself, or perhaps like prose poetry, or the prose poem—already we see the problem here—a poetry film exists in a between-space, a Zwischenraum. It can not be named. It can only be invented with each attempt; its inability to occupy a name or a space or a genre is what generates these attempts to create something that is true to its name. It will fail every time.
Uljana Wolf (born 1979) is a German poet. She lives in Berlin and New York and was a member of both the programme commission and the festival jury of the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival.
Poetry Film City is in danger. To avoid it becoming a poster-like island that is overgrown with kitsch, a warehouse of beautiful animations or a hell of text illustrations, I think more poets should visit the City. To occupy a street or two, to copulate with film makers and sound experts, to enjoy a holiday or just to inspect the place of abuse.
Looking at a poetry film, I want to experience that it must have been made. ‘It’s Being a film based on a poem’ is not enough reason to make a poetry film. I also want to have the illusion that no other choices or combinations could have been possible.
Using a good poem (a poem that survives when separated from the film) is a condition, but not a guarantee for a good poetry film. The visible or audible presence of a poem can easily hide the fact that there is no poetry in the poetry film. A good poetry film doesn’t only contain a poem, it doesn’t only facilitate interaction between text, image and sound, but it also has ‘poetic’ qualities as a whole. A good poetry film is a film that I want to see again. And again.
An excellent poetry film is ‘YOU AND ME’ (2009) by Karsten Krause. A timeline made of love and four decades of footage. ‘Bourgeois show off’ meets ‘erotic slavery’. The lovebird lines and rhymes we hear are only a few times in sync with what’s (not) said. Nostalgia (toxic in its pure form) is countered by a cruel ‘fast forward’. The moving mix of images, playful-polite lines and subtle soundtrack appear to be the fuel for a death reminder.
Paul Bogaert (born 1968, Belgium), poet: “Most poetry films are based on or inspired by an existing poem. I think that doing it in the reverse way can yield good results too. I like writing the text and making the film simultaneously. It’s a complex thing to do, but it questions my normal process and it stretches the margins of my work.”
“Poetry film makers certainly have to consider the language problem. Can the poetry survive the screening when the used language is (too) foreign to the movie watcher? Subtitles are not always a solution and translations can be bad, or too difficult in a bridge-language (often English).”
You can listen to Paul Bogaert‘s poetry on lyrikline.org.
I’m often asked by viewers or colleagues to define what poetry film is. For a long time, I would define it by explaining what it isn’t (it’s not a film about poetry, nor poets, etc.). Then I heard Bob Holman, an American poet, saying that there is no such thing as poetry film, but only different kinds of poetry: there is the spoken or performed poetry—the most ancient kind. The second type is written poetry, and even though it can be read aloud in public, it is more a text than a show.
The third kind is the filmed poem, or since the HD era, the Video Poem—a type of visual poetry. The basis for most video poems is written poetry, but for good video poems, the written words are only an inspiration. The words become part of a new poem created by the director. The video has a strong and complex relationship with the written poem, but it is no longer the same piece of art.
One of the best video poems “Nach grauen Tagen” by Ralf Schmerberg (select #9), takes the words and transforms them into a visual and emotional situation, and creates a new visual poem with its own meaning and beauty.
Avi Dabach, Born 1972, Jerusalem. Directed a dozen of video poems as well as documentaries and experimental films.
lyrikline.org is celebrating its 10,000th translation: Broken down, there are exactly 4,607 translations into German and 5,393 translations into other languages; of those, 2,498 were from German originals and 2,895 from originals in other languages. This means that since its inception in November 1999, lyrikline.org has thus put just under 70 poem translations online per month.
At the end of 2011 we were able, thanks to a translation grant from the German Literature Fund, have more than 400 poems translated for lyrikline.org, of which two-thirds are translations into German and one-third translations of German poets into other languages.
Now the second half of these new translations are online too.
Recent new translations
Into Chinese: Volker Braun (Germany), Norbert Hummelt (Germany), Hans Manz (Switzerland), Hans Raimund (Austria), Jutta Richter (Germany), Hendrik Rost (Germany), Brigitte Struzyk (Germany), Peter Turrini (Austria), Jan Wagner (Germany)
Into Croatian: Dagmar Leupold (Germany)
Into Czech: Mario Wirz (Germany)
Into English: Paulus Böhmer (Germany), Carles Duarte (Catalonia, Spain), Sylvia Geist (Germany), Wolfgang Hilbig (Germany), Johannes Jansen (Germany), Wulf Kirsten (Germany), Michael Krüger (Germany), Thomas Kunst (Germany), Hans Manz (Switzerland), Brigitte Oleschinski (Germany), Michael Roes (Germany), Hendrik Rost (Germany), Andre Rudolph (Germany), Màrius Sampere (Catalonia, Spain), Sabine Scho (Germany), Enric Sòria (Catalonia, Spain), Brigitte Struzyk (Germany), Peter Turrini (Austria)
Into French: Carles Duarte (Catalonia, Spain), Sylvia Geist (Germany), Linn Hansén (Sweden), Dagmar Leupold (Germany), Marion Poschmann (Germany), Jan Volker Röhnert (Germany), Tom Schulz (Germany), Enric Sòria (Catalonia, Spain), Uljana Wolf (Germany)
Into German: Anna Aguilar-Amat (Catalonia, Spain), Martine Audet (Quebec), Krešimir Bagić (Croatia), Tomica Bajsić (Croatia), Benno Barnard (Belgium), Ida Börjel (Sweden), Mario Brassard (Quebec), François Charron (Quebec), Antoni Clapés (Catalonia, Spain), Dick Davis (USA), Carles Duarte (Catalonia, Spain), Miloš Đurđević (Croatia), Mária Ridzoňová Ferenčuhová (Slovakia), Bartomeu Fiol (Catalonia, Spain), Madeleine Gagnon (Quebec), Ákos Györffy (Hungary), Michal Habaj (Slovakia), Linn Hansén (Sweden), Maria Teresa Horta (Portugal), J.K. Ihalainen (Finland), Dorta Jagić (Croatia), Attila Jász (Hungary), Dragan Jovanović Danilov (Serbia), Nuno Júdice (Portugal), Miroslav Kirin (Croatia), Desanka Maksimović (Serbia), Branko Maleš (Croatia), Sonja Manojlović (Croatia), Antoni Marí (Catalonia, Spain), Bart Meuleman (Belgium), Miroslav Mićanović (Croatia), Fredrik Nyberg (Sweden), Hugues C. Pernath (Belgium), Malte Persson (Sweden), Jaume Pont (Catalonia, Spain), Vasko Popa (Serbia), Jean-François Poupart (Quebec), Ivica Prtenjača (Croatia), Dušan Radović (Serbia), Albert Roig (Catalonia, Spain), Màrius Sampere (Catalonia, Spain), Alfred Schaffer (Netherlands), Robert B. Shaw (USA), Marie Silkeberg (Sweden), Armando Silva Carvalho (Portugal), Enric Sòria (Catalonia, Spain), Lucienne Stassaert (Belgium), Timothy Steele (USA), Jaume Subirana (Catalonia, Spain), Saila Susiluoto (Finland), Johanna Venho (Finland), Antoni Vidal Ferrando (Catalonia, Spain)
Into Hebrew: Carles Duarte (Catalonia, Spain)
Into Icelandic: Carles Duarte (Catalonia, Spain)
Into Italian: Carles Duarte (Catalonia, Spain), Màrius Sampere (Catalonia, Spain)
Into Macedonian: Tomas Tranströmer (Sweden)
Into Portuguese: Carles Duarte (Catalonia, Spain)
Into Romanian: Mario Wirz (Germany)
Into Swedish: Valzhyna Mort (Belarus/USA), Les Murray (Australia)
Into Spanish: Carles Duarte (Catalonia, Spain), Kerstin Hensel (Germany), Màrius Sampere (Catalonia, Spain), Ulrike Almut Sandig (Germany), Tom Schulz (Germany), Lutz Seiler (Germany), Enric Sòria (Catalonia, Spain), Ron Winkler (Germany)
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10.000 Übersetzungen auf lyrikline.org
lyrikline.org feiert ihre 10.000. Übersetzung. Aufgeschlüsselt sind das genau 4.607 Übersetzungen ins Deutsche sowie 5.393 Übersetzungen in andere Sprachen, von den letzteren hatten wiederum 2.498 Übersetzungen Deutsch als Ausgangssprache und 2.895 eine jeweils andere. Seit ihrer Gründung im November 1999 stellte lyrikline.org damit jeden Monat knapp 70 Gedicht-Übersetzungen online.
Ende 2011 konnten wir dank einer Übersetzungsförderung des Deutschen Literaturfonds e.V. Übersetzungen von mehr als 400 Gedichten für lyrikline.org anfertigen lassen, davon sind zwei Drittel Übersetzungen ins Deutsche und ein Drittel Übersetzungen von deutschen Dichtern in andere Sprachen.
Nun liegt auch die zweite Hälfte der neu entstandenen Übersetzungen online vor.
Ins Chinesische: Volker Braun (Deutschland), Norbert Hummelt (Deutschland), Hans Manz (Schweiz), Hans Raimund (Österreich), Jutta Richter (Deutschland), Hendrik Rost (Deutschland), Brigitte Struzyk (Deutschland), Peter Turrini (Österreich), Jan Wagner (Deutschland)
Ins Deutsche: Anna Aguilar-Amat (Katalonien, ES), Martine Audet (Quebec), Krešimir Bagić (Kroatien), Tomica Bajsić (Kroatien), Benno Barnard (Belgien), Ida Börjel (Schweden), Mario Brassard (Quebec), François Charron (Quebec), Antoni Clapés (Katalonien, ES), Dick Davis (USA), Carles Duarte (Katalonien, ES), Miloš Đurđević (Kroatien), Mária Ridzoňová Ferenčuhová (Slowakei), Bartomeu Fiol (Katalonien, ES), Madeleine Gagnon (Quebec), Ákos Györffy (Ungarn), Michal Habaj (Slowakei), Linn Hansén (Schweden), Maria Teresa Horta (Portugal), J.K. Ihalainen (Finnland), Dorta Jagić (Kroatien), Attila Jász (Ungarn), Dragan Jovanović Danilov (Serbien), Nuno Júdice (Portugal), Miroslav Kirin (Kroatien), Desanka Maksimović (Serbien), Branko Maleš (Kroatien), Sonja Manojlović (Kroatien), Antoni Marí (Katalonien, ES), Bart Meuleman (Belgien), Miroslav Mićanović (Kroatien), Pouneh Nedaii (Iran), Fredrik Nyberg (Schweden), Hugues C. Pernath (Belgien), Malte Persson (Schweden), Jaume Pont (Katalonien, ES), Vasko Popa (Serbien), Jean-François Poupart (Quebec), Ivica Prtenjača (Kroatien), Dušan Radović (Serbien), Albert Roig (Katalonien, ES), Màrius Sampere (Katalonien, ES), Alfred Schaffer (Niederlande), Robert B. Shaw (USA), Marie Silkeberg (Schweden), Armando Silva Carvalho (Portugal), Enric Sòria (Katalonien, ES), Lucienne Stassaert (Belgien), Timothy Steele (USA), Jaume Subirana (Katalonien, ES), Saila Susiluoto (Finnland), Johanna Venho (Finnland), Antoni Vidal Ferrando (Katalonien, ES)
Ins Englische: Paulus Böhmer (Deutschland), Carles Duarte (Katalonien, ES), Sylvia Geist (Deutschland), Wolfgang Hilbig (Deutschland), Johannes Jansen (Deutschland), Wulf Kirsten (Deutschland), Michael Krüger (Deutschland), Thomas Kunst (Deutschland), Hans Manz (Schweiz), Brigitte Oleschinski (Deutschland), Michael Roes (Deutschland), Hendrik Rost (Deutschland), Andre Rudolph (Deutschland), Màrius Sampere (Katalonien, ES), Sabine Scho (Deutschland), Enric Sòria (Katalonien, ES), Brigitte Struzyk (Deutschland), Peter Turrini (Österreich)
Ins Französische: Carles Duarte (Katalonien, ES), Sylvia Geist (Deutschland), Linn Hansén (Schweden), Dagmar Leupold (Deutschland), Marion Poschmann (Deutschland), Jan Volker Röhnert (Deutschland), Tom Schulz (Deutschland), Enric Sòria (Katalonien, ES), Uljana Wolf (Deutschland)
Ins Hebräische: Carles Duarte (Katalonien, ES)
Ins Isländische: Carles Duarte (Katalonien, ES)
Ins Italienische: Carles Duarte (Katalonien, ES), Màrius Sampere (Katalonien, ES)
Ins Kroatische: Dagmar Leupold (Deutschland)
Ins Mazedonische: Tomas Tranströmer (Schweden)
Ins Portugiesische: Carles Duarte (Katalonien, ES)
Ins Rumänische: Mario Wirz (Deutschland)
Ins Schwedische: Valzhyna Mort (Belarus/USA), Les Murray (Australia)
Ins Spanische: Carles Duarte (Katalonien, ES), Kerstin Hensel (Deutschland), Màrius Sampere (Katalonien, ES), Ulrike Almut Sandig (Deutschland), Tom Schulz (Deutschland), Lutz Seiler (Deutschland), Enric Sòria (Katalonien, ES), Ron Winkler (Deutschland)
Ins Tschechische: Mario Wirz (Deutschland)