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I saw him at work, reading some of his poetry (in Dutch and Japanese and translating others work into our local dialect) at The Felix Poetry Festival.
After the festival I asked him if I could do something with his poems.
'Yes, I would love it if you would make a video for one of my poems'
He was so kind to send me 2 of his books.
From his latest book 'De Willekeur' (De Bezige Bij, 2012)
I chose 'Vogels babbelden met haar'
A beautiful poem, a poem about the suicide of his mother.
For personal reasons that was a poem that shouted out to me, loud.
It was the kind of poem that I had to turn into a videopoem, even if it was a tough one to make.
A personal one.
After I had send a first version over to Jan (with the question if he could do a translation), he replied;
"Not for the faint-hearted...You have given the words the ability to fly, in another medium, a greater range... I normally don't do my own translations, but in this case I couldn't say no..."
A compliment that made me very happy.
BIRDS TALKED TO HER
Crow nonsense, magpie lies, tit sadness, “Remember oh remember / What you / Would forget,” sunlight softened, dragonflies danced above the roaring river, it could be a motto, an assignment, what I wanted to forget was naturally the most suspicious – against the constancy of an ideal object; I needed courage, bravery, unflinching clarity, humble and razor-sharp, to remember exactly what I wanted to forget, “How strong my / Bones were and / How cocky my soul / / Adieu sweet / Invisible lover who I / Never met and who I / Never left” – it was not her first suicide attempt, the necessity of return, the unconditional return, a sure thing: inevitable, but also: certain, the return followed with absolute certainty, and in this repetition there was a twining, the doubling, forgetting, succeeding, annihilation, the relief of nothingness, the elimination of conscious processes, learning by heart, how, where, the way, the heart took over when the head was finished, “Remember oh remember / What you / Would forget,” it really was a motto, a task, the strange vanishing in the landscape, becoming tree, cloud, mountain, river, a dragonfly dancing in the last sunlight, “A haggard bird […] Does it have you / In the southern eye, in the northern me? / How torn we are, and complete / Only inside the bird’s head.”
So there are 2 versions.
A Dutch one and an English one.
Both without voice, just the text.
The reaon for that is clear. Reading these words out loud is too delicate. Too hard to them justice.
No comments on the rest. Let the words, the images and the music do their work.
(If you have headphones, put them on and give it a bit of volume)
Vogels babbelden met haar
Birds talked to her
Words & translation: Jan Lauwereyns
Concept, camera, editing, music: Swoon