Monday, 23 September 2013

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Even though I'm broken hearted my faith is unshattered (Ray Hsu)

A few months ago I got in touch with Ray Hsu.
We decided on a collaboration early in our correspondence.
Ray had just sent me some of his words when in the US this happened;
The events made him write a completely different poem. A poem of the urgent kind.
A poem I could not resist.

This is how Ray describes the whole proces:

Set Your Clocks Back to Now
I sat at my desk in Vancouver, Canada. Soon after it was announced that George Zimmerman was declared innocent of killing Trayvon Martin, a classmate from graduate school posted this status update on Facebook:
"Don't forget to set your clocks back 50 years before you go to bed tonight"
Other friends began to post.
I opened a new document window.
Another friend shared this article
I kept writing.
Then somebody posted this song
Then I finished my poem.

I knew that Marc was waiting in Belgium for a poem.
I had previously sent a poem that was interesting, but it wasn't like this poem. I sent it to Marc.
"Completely another direction, this," he said. "I like it (a lot) Very 'now'."
I think about that. "Now" strikes me as so dispersed that it's very difficult to understand what any shared present moment might be.
Perhaps we empower journalists with the task of giving whatever "now" is back to us.
When I saw on my newsfeed so many of my friends express a moment of shared pain, it seemed a "now" we could share.
But it was also a "now" shot through with other moments, such as the moments that Marc highlights with archival footage and audio.
Someone posted this video this morning.
How strange to see this alone on my newsfeed.
No one shared it.
I watched it scroll down my screen.

Even though I'm broken hearted my faith is unshattered

Even though I am broken hearted my faith is unshattered
-- Tracy Martin (@BTrayMartin9)

I saw what might have been a clock
turned fifty years ago.

In the grass, a young man lies still
eyes upward in the sweet magnolia air

jeans cuffed once, legs crossed
like an upside down man

mouth slackly open. The light
across him glares. I stand

about, I realize, with others.
Numbers, too, lie stiffly

in the grass, pointing things
towards somewhere. The clock is still

here and the young man lies
as if washed onto that other shore.

A wind sucks at the blades
of grass, blood at the root.

As always I started out making a track for the reading Ray made.
I re-edited pieces of this track:

Ray and I mailed back and forth about possible images and ideas I had.
I wanted to do something with old stereotypes or period footage and link those to the poem.
Though I began with images from these 'Prelinger Docu's': Teddy & Integration Report
In the end I kept soundbites from it but I soon ended up with something completely different.
Old footage from a couple of cartoons around the 'Amos & Andy' characters.

After a few versions I choose to use images from the cartoons that were less referential to the content of the poem. Hopefully they add another layer, raise questions,... rather than 'illustrate'

Anyway, look and listen:

Words & Voice: Ray Hsu
Concept, add. camera, editing & music: Swoon
Footage and soundbites:  'Teddy', 'Integration Report I' 'The Rasslin' Match' & The Lion Tamer'
(Prelinger Archives - Public Domain)

The poem and video were released first in The Winnipeg Review of september.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

October 2013; festivals, selections, screenings, workshops...

It's going to be a busy fall.

October 2013 turns out to be a month packed with festivals, screenings, showcases and workshops...

A quick run-through:

03/10/2013: Liberated Words
Liberated Words is part of the 18th Bristol Poetry Festival and is dedicated to the screening and introduction of Videopoetry on UK's National Poetry Day.

2 of my video's were selected;

08/10/2013: Swoon & Guests
(video-gedichten en levende dichters)
I will give a videopoetry showcase at 'De Boog' ( Café RoodWit)in Antwerp)

Screening of 'Cirkel/Circle'

Live performances of Marleen de Crée and Peter Holvoet-Hanssen
Both poets will read live against a backdrop of video/soundscape we collaborated on earlier.
(Marleen: Laat ooit ons sterven zijn & Faites vos Jeux / Peter: Scheldeduiker & Tuin der Poëten)
Screenings of international collaborations.

09-12/10/2013: International Festival of Audiovisual and Experimental Poetry TARP
TARP is the only international festival of audiovisual and experimental poetry in Lithuania uniting interdisciplinary arts and poetry.
This year I was invited to host a workshop around videopoetry (we're going to make videopoems with local writers/filmmakers on the spot) and screen my poetry shortfilm 'Cirkel/Circle'

12/10/2013: Visible Verse 2013.
Visible Verse, The Cinematheque’s annual festival of video poetry and film, is back! Vancouver poet, author, musician, and media artist Heather Haley curates and hosts our celebration of this hybrid creative form, which integrates verse with media-art visuals produced by a camera or a computer. The 2013 festival will be selected from more than 200 entries received from artists around the world. As well, we are happy to host Colorado poet and filmmaker R.W. Perkins, who will give an artist’s talk on video poetry and filmmaking.
My collaboration with Johan de Boose, Day is Done, will be screened.

19/10/2013: 3rd Co-Kisser Poetry-Film Festival
3rd Co-Kisser Poetry-Film Festival will take place on October 19, 2013 at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
The mission for the fest is to see how poets and filmmakers are defining the genre of poetry-films and to challenge and be inspired by any and all of these definitions.
My videopoem 'Day is Done' (a collaboration with Johan de Boose) is selected for the festival.

Needless to say I am happy, proud and humble to have received all these opportunities...

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Mortal Ghazal

A new collaboration. Always a joy to look out for. This one came through Dave Bonta.

On his literary blog Via NegativaLuisa A Igloria has been writing a poem a day since November 2010, often in response to Dave's posts at The Morning Porch.
Luisa has a new full-length collection, The Saints of Streets, which includes poems first published on Via Negativa. It is a very fine collection.

For me, it was a pleasure to pick one poem out for a new video. I fell for 'Mortal Ghazal'.

Mortal Ghazal

My friend sent me a lei of strawflowers from the city of our childhood:
brittle corollas of yellow undercut by orange that we called Everlasting.

I remember the slides in the park, and the kiddy train one summer: it looped around its
periphery, a blur of red and orange. Just a few minutes, but the ride seemed everlasting.

And women from the hills, their baskets filled with dried snipe, amulets, herbs;
their woven skirts striped vivid orange (the sound of their voices, everlasting)—

In that world, everything seemed possible; in that world, time seemed almost too slow.
Now I’m brought up short in the shoals as the sun reddens in a sky unrelenting—

At sunrise, two birds call— heraldic, but fleeting. Such tender things in the world:
smudged with blue, capped with little streaks of rust. Glyphs from the everlasting.

Tell me I haven’t done too little, that I’ve made some difference to you;
even if in the end I might be judged wanting, unhinged: mortal, not everlasting.

Luisa made a recording of the poem and I created a track where her reading could lay in.

Along with her ecording Luisa gave me some ideas and pointers where to look for possible images.
One of the video's she proposed was, the film is part of a collection of motion picture films that John Van Antwerp MacMurray shot during the time he served as American Minister to China (1925-1929).
The 16mm silent movie was shot during a trip to the Philippines in October 1926, where MacMurray and his wife spent a few days at Camp John Hay, Baguio.

I asked Princeton University Library if I could use these images. Yes I could.
Together with Luisa, I went looking for the right images from that film.
Mailing back and forth, trying out new and different edits... It was fun to work this way and, I admit, a big help. I do not know a lot of the rituals and history the film shows. Luisa does and this is what she had to say about the project:

Dave Bonta first alerted me to the idea of a film poem collaboration with Marc Neys (Swoon), just a little over a week ago. When he mentioned this possibility, he referred to "Reprieve," the video poem he himself (Dave) had made as a surprise in time for my 50th birthday two years ago. Dave said that he had something similar in mind for marking the publication of my new book THE SAINTS OF STREETS, but that it would be a little difficult to achieve a collaboration without me being informed or in the loop.
After getting more directly connected with Marc, I recorded three short poems from the collection that I thought might be good candidates. Marc selected "Mortal Ghazal" and I'm really happy that he did.
The poem's recurrent rhyme is the word "everlasting" - it had started out as a meditation of sorts on a flower indigenous to Baguio, the mountain city where I grew up in the Philippines. The locals refer to them as "everlasting" flowers, but they are strawflowers or helichrysum bracteatum (family asteraceae), Locals wind them into leis and sell them to tourists. One of my dearest friends from childhood recently returned from a trip to Baguio, and brought a lei back for me.

Around ten years ago, this friend lost her only son, who grew up with my daughters in Baguio; and she has never really recovered from that grief; she has also just had surgery, and thinking about her and about our lives in that small mountain city so long ago, before we became what we are now, led me to writing this poem which is also a meditation on time/temporality, passage, absence and presence. 
When I write poems, I am often guided first by images and their interior "sound" or texture, even before I can bring them to bear upon each other in some totally explicable way... What draws me in the first place to poetry is the sense it offers of mystery, of how not everything in language can be completely grasped, so that we can continue to think of possibility.
Therefore I love so much how Marc has been able to intuit the poem's themes of recurrence and memory and render them in such a way that both sound and imagery, artifact and dream, loop one into the other in the video poem.

I added a few 'contemporary' images and an extra layer (image of a big spinning mirrorball) of colour and light.
Have a look and listen and enjoy;

Words& Voice: Luisa A. Igloria
Concept, add. camera, editing & music: Swoon
Footage: Princeton University Library - John Van Antwerp McMurray Papers - Public Policy Papers Division -Princeton University Library / Christy Hermogenes (PHILIPPINES Part 14 The Road to Baguio City)

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Kijk hoe we onszelf aanvullen (Uite cum ne mai rotunjim)

Earlier this year I had the chance to show my poetry shortfilm 'Cirkel/Circle' at the Felix Poetry Festival in Antwerp.
Organised by Antwerpen Boekenstad, the festival does not only showcase great Belgian poetry and writers, but also invites a great deal of international guests.

This time I was so lucky to see and hear poets like Daniel Banulescu, Claudiu KomartinTonnus Oosterhoff, Ilya Kaminsky and  Doina Ioanid.
I was especially taken by the beautiful (short) poems of Romanian poet Doina Ioanid.

After the festival I asked her and her translator Jan Mysjkin if I could make a video for one of my favourites of her performance;

 'Kijk hoe we onszelf aanvullen (Uite cum ne mai rotunjim)'

Kijk hoe we onszelf aanvullen met de levens van anderen, hoe we ons aan elkaar vastklampen en samendrommen als blinde egels. Kijk hoe al onze zuchten en narigheden in een en dezelfde vijzel worden verbrijzeld. Zullen we ooit echt alleen kunnen zijn, met enkel de zon boven ons hoofd?
(Translation into Dutch by Jan Mysjkin)

Uite cum ne mai rotunjim cu vieţile altora, cum ne agăţăm unul de celălalt şi ne înghesuim laolaltă ca nişte arici orbi. Uite cum se macină de-a valma toate suspinele şi nenorocirile noastre. Vom sta oare vreodată singuri, numai cu soarele deasupra creştetului?

There we go, rounding ourselves with each other’s lives, clinging one to the other and huddling together akin to blind hedgehogs. There go all of our sighs and misfortunes, grinding against each other in a jumble. Will we ever be standing all by ourselves, with nothing but the sun above our heads? (English translation by Florin Bican)

The Dutch version of this poem can be found in  'Oorbellen, buiken & eenzaamheid' (Uitgeverij Perdu, 2013)  I made a reading in Dutch myself and used the original text in Romania as subtitles. Music for this one came from this track:

The images of this piece were taken from 'Lost landscapes of Detroit' (Prelinger Archives) and I re-edited them, adding an extra layer of colour and light.
The result is a short (moody) piece.
Have a look and listen for yourself...

Words: Doina Ioanid
Translation: Jan Mysjkin
Concept, add. camera, editing, voice & music: Swoon
Footage: 'Lost landscapes of Detroit' (Prelinger Archives)

Monday, 15 July 2013

A Westray Prayer

This year it's Filmpoem's first festival. Submissions ended and the organisers are in their own words 'quite surprised at the variation in quality of the submissions. This is a new genre, that’s for sure.'

Also in the open call for filmpoem:
A Westray Prayer is a poem by John Glenday (from 'Grain', London: Picador, 2009) Filmpoem Festival invites entries of films based on this poem. Three films will be selected and presented in  conversation, with selected other entries being shown.

A Westray Prayer
i.m. Mike and Barbara Heasman
Let us now give thanks
for these salt-blown
wind-burned pastures
where outgrass and timothy
shrink from the harrow of the sea
where Scotland at long last
wearies of muttering its own name
where we may begin
to believe we have always known
what someone in his wisdom
must have meant
when he gave us everything
and told us nothing.

Filmpoem Festival 2013 will be held on the 2nd-4th August 2013 in Dunbar Town House, a beautiful building in the centre of Dunbar, itself an attractive fishing town 20 minutes east of Edinburgh. It is supported by North Light Arts, who will be offering the opportunity to have your films screened the subsequent week in their Solar Cinema.

When asked if I also wanted to make a video for this poem, I immediately took a dive into it... I re-edited a piece of this track to lay John Glenday's reading in;

The images for this video were all made during our visit to StAnza earlier this year.
They speak for themselves...

Have a look and listen for yourself...

Words & Voice: John Glenday
Concept, Camera, Editing & Music: Swoon

Friday, 12 July 2013

The Children Have Lit the Fire

Tsead Bruinja is a poet from The Netherlands. He lives in Amsterdam, but is rooted in Fryslân.
He writes in different languages.
I met him at the last Stanza festival (Thanks to Michaël Vandebril for leading me to him) and was blown away by how beautiful the Frisian language(s) sounds.

After the festival I asked him if I could make a video for one of his Frisian poems.
I made one for;


wy jouwe te folle ljocht tegearre
do en ik tinke dat se ús net sjogge
mar se sjogge ús

lykas besjogge se in himel
fol fallende stjerren op flylân
ein augustus

it is nacht op it eilân langstme
dat skûmkoppen fan ferwyt en ferlet oanfrette
en golle weagen fan belofte sân oansette

de bern ha it fjoer oanstutsen op it strân
it hast op in folwoeksen sûpen set en it oan elkoar bekend

sjogge inoar inoar inoar

ien boat kin my meinimme
mar dêrfoar moat ik slimmer siik wêze
en minder ljocht jaan

ien boat komt net
hoe't ik ek flok

baarnt ôf
op oare weagen

raand goud

de bern ha it fjoer oanstutsen
en wy

wy jouwe tefolle ljocht

Tsead loved the result (Always a joy to hear) and and made me an English translation, so you can enjoy a version with titles.

The Children Have Lit the Fire

we give off too much light together
you and I think they don't see us
but they see us

like they're watching a sky
full of stars falling on Vlieland
end of august

it's night on the island of need
that is eaten away at by crests of reproach and desire
while at the same time generous waves of promise
deposit sand

the children have lit the fire on the beach
boozing it up almost like adults
they confess to each other

see each other each other each other

one boat can take me away from here
but for that I must be sicker
and give off less light

one boat won't come
however I curse

burns down
on other waves

molten gold

the children have started a fire
and we

we give off too much light
Have a look and listen;

Words & Voice: Tsead Bruinja
Concept, Editing & Music: Swoon
Thanks: VFX Footage

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Awkword Paper Cut; She Saw & other pieces

This month I will be one of the featured artists on the new online magazine 'Awkword Paper Cut'

A video I made for Meg Tuite featured in their inaugural issue. For this month Michael Dickes (driving force behind APC) gave me a chance to introduce a few recent works and collaborations.

I have sent him 3 video's;
Ve Znaku, my collab with Czech poet Jaromír Typlt,
The Crowning of Jesters, the latest work David Tomaloff and I cooked up
and, brand new, She Saw.

You can read, view and listen to the article on Awkword Paper Cut.
Be sure to also check out Michael's radioshow where he plays the soundtrack and David Tomaloff's superb reading of 'The Crowning of Jesters'

She Saw, then...

Michael Dickes and I agreed to make a brand new piece for this issue. He gave me a great reading of 'She Saw'

   She Saw
She  grows  weary of  keen  eyesight and  the  seeing  of  things  that only she can see. She grows weary of the sound of the machine and its thrashing; tired of the turning of wheels; of the sweat that forms at the pounding of keys; of studying the strange texture that surfaces the darkening circles and the haunting of poverty for the price that was paid.  They will speak of hers as a wasted life, because they could not see.
(Text originally appeared in Thrice Fiction | Dec 2012)

A few weeks earlier I made the track 'Antanas, the cook' (after reading an article on Hans Lipschis )

More or less at the same time I had  found 'The vampire Bat' (especially the face on 32:09)
Great images, so I tried out some footage on that piece of music, cause I thought it fitted the original idea.
And at that time Michael gave me 'She Saw'...
Sometimes all falls into place and I would be stupid not to act on that,
so I combined all pieces;

Words & Voice: Michael Dickes
Concept, add. camera, editing & music: Swoon
Footage and audio samples: The Vampire Bat (Frank Strayer, 1933)

Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Crowning of Jesters

A conversation:

S: "And now for something completely different...
I'm working on a new video; The shareholders meeting

Images will come from this video: 
I'm doing a re-edit of that archive material and Maybe  I want to add exerpts from 'Das Kapital' by Marx as titles. One thing missing: a poem that reflects greed, money - power, crisis, banks, the whole bubble of money driven economics that led to the different crises we had,...
Nothing literally...hints, atmosphere... Are you up for it?  Let me know what you think..."
                                                                 - TIME -

D: "...As for the new prompt, I can definitely give it a shot. I'll see if I can conjure up a draft within the next couple of days. Is that ok?"
                                                                 - TIME - 

S: "Yes, sure. Take your time...I'm happy you want to go for it..."

                                                                 - TIME -
D: "So, this is a draft. It's a little more upfront than some of the other stuff I've written for you, I think. That said, it's still pretty surreal. I want to still tweak it a bit, read it aloud a few times, etc"
                                                                  - TIME -
S: "Yes! Yes. Fantastic title. Love the quotes.
Good imaging. The last line
'Currency is a plot of land to which the wingless birds have marched us—on which we are sold the means to dig ourselves a more efficient kind of grave' is spot on...
So yes, you're definitely on to something. Tweak as you like and see fit."
                                                                   - TIME -
D: "I just wanted to touch base and let you know that I plan to have your poem recorded and on your desk by the end of the weekend at the latest.
I have it finished. I just need to be in a quiet environment with software long enough to read and edit it. Ha!
I should have it to you very soon now.
For what it's worth, I'm really liking this piece. I'm looking forward to the done deal"
                                                                   - TIME -
S: "Version 2.9: (still private, pass: jesters) Let me know your thoughts." 
                                                                   - TIME -
D: "This is intense, man. Really intense. Opening with the scrolling stock stuff is brilliant. I love the way the words fit into the visuals all the way around. I was convinced I was watching a seance or something--very ominous. I think it's great"
                                                               - THE POEM -

                                                         THE CROWNING OF JESTERS
we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.
—Anaïs Nin 

you wanted everything / you needed everything
—Fugazi, Greed 

The shallowy birds of the moment have given up to us their saccharin wings. They have eaten from the bowls of the dead, and they have swallowed back the coins left behind by the namesakes of unnamed families, whose bodies have been broken in the process of provision, their feet left dangling, given to the only certainties promised by a bacchic and unsteady wind.

ominous chamber music,
violins, et cetera.
bold static figures 
moving in and out of light— 

creatures reduced to the babble
of rusted swing sets, falling
about themselves,
tottering from the backs of chairs

When we say amen, we mean in god we trust. When we say in god we trust, we assume that our temples have been insured against the salt of the wicked men. Currency is a plot of land to which the wingless have marched us—on which we are sold the means to dig ourselves a deeper & more efficient kind of grave.
                                                                      - THE VIDEO -

Words & Voice: David Tomaloff
Concept, add. Camera, Editing, Music: Swoon
Footage: '3 Glazer' (Lutz Mommartz)

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

River of Light

Paul Perry and I have put our forces together once before. That combination of his words and thoughts with my sounds and images seemed to hit the right chords here and there.
Drift (For two NATO soldiers who drowned in an attempt to recover supplies from a river in the province of Badghis, Western Afghanistan, November, 2009) was selected and screened for several festivals and even won first prize in this years 'La Parola Immaginata' (Jury details)

Time for a follow up. Paul gave me some of his poetry to choose from.

I picked out  River of Light
red, green and yellow neon
blur the highway
into a river of light

the intersection appears
like a mirage
smoke wafting from the policemen’s flares

call them mourning candles
three a.m.
surrounding the scene

the intersection
like a small island of sorrow
the car should not

be cut in half
so easily, so simply
but it is, there

we watch, dumb spectators,
held back
by yellow tape

as the police measure
confer and agree
the yellow plastic

covering the unnamed dead
flaps in the wind
like an ignominious flag

a warning, a reminder
flapping absurdly in rhythm
with the smashed blinker

 of the halved car,
again yellow
until the ambulance appears

and departs, easily, simply
the shattered glass swept away
the car removed

the tape taken
so that everything
looks as it did

an hour before
when we passed
on the other side

an unending kaleidoscope
a blurring, ever-moving
river of light

It's a poems (much like 'For two NATO soldiers...') that creeps up to you as an almost dry recapitulation of a daily newspaper article. And then it hits you, full force, in the stomach.
I needed very simple images. I wanted fragile, yet powerful. Light, yet disturbed. The same for the sounds.
Paul gave me a recording and I went to work on a suitable track;

While creating those soundsI got the idea of filming poppies. I knew of a small narrow strip full of them, in between two railroad lines. A flower that grows in the middle of concrete and iron. Strong yet fragile in the constant wind of trains. They worked perfectly.
Right at the end of the film I added images of reflections of an ambulance light and combined those with the sounds of heavy breathing.


Words & Voice: Paul Perry
Concept, Camera, Editing & Music: Swoon

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The Pioneer Wife Speaks in Tongues

Sometimes I collect images, keep them with me until the right poem comes along.
The same with certain tracks I create.
'And So They Live' (John Ferno, Julian Roffman, 1940) is a piece of archive showing poorly educated "mountain peoples" living in poverty and stricken with disease, it's a public-domain documentary about life in the Appalachian mountains with some great looking shots but a typical and very patronizing narration.
I used some parts before more than a year ago in 'Odds and Ends' The images stayed on my 'shelf' since then...

In came Donna Vorreyer. We worked together before and I think she's a very fine poet.
Donna has got a new collection out: 'The Imagined Life of the Pioneer Wife' (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2013)
Almost every poem in that collection could have been used for this videopoem. Not because they're all the same. Because they're all so good!

I asked Donna if I could use 'The Pioneer Wife Speaks in Tongues' and she recorded a version.
Listening to her voice I went back to this track:

The two worked perfectly together, I only added some whispering in the background. Now I had a steady basis and I could start the search for the right images.
There was one sequence in the film I really loved. Can't explain why, but the feet in the snow worked on a whole other level. When I placed that sequence on the basis, the rest came naturally.

Have a look and listen for yourself:

Words & Voice: Donna Vorreyer
Concept, add. Camera, Editing & Music: Swoon
Footage: 'And So They Live' (John Ferno, Julian Roffman, 1940)

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Ve znaku (In the Sign) - Jaromír Typlt

If there's one thing I really like about the internet, it got to be the possibility and speed in how we can 'meet' and collaborate with people everywhere.

Throught the fiber I 'met' Jaromír Typlt.
At a certain point we started to write about poetry and videopoems and the possibility of working together.
On his website there were English translations of some of his poems.
We decided on one of them;      

Ve znaku


Probudilo mě něco v páteři.
až nadoraz ke zprolámání,
hrozná bolest, musel jsem z toho prorazit ven:
už ani luk
ani kniha

ani kniha
ani luk
už se to nedalo dál snášet.

Zvednul jsem se,
chvíli tak na posteli v polospánku

dokud se v tom mi nepodařilo rozpoznat.
Luk a kniha?

se ohýbal a napínal a šlo mu to konečně hladce
bez lámání.

Hřbet knihy
se konečně nerozpadal
a udržel rozevření na kterékoliv stránce.

A bolest se pomalu rozpouštěla,
jak to tak zapadalo do sebe,
za chvíli jsem se mohl položit
a znovu klidně usnout.

Na obratle jsem za celou tu dobu
ani nepomyslel.

Ze sborníku k 90. narozeninám Ludvíka Kundery (2010)

In the Sign

Something in the spine awoke me.

At full throttle till the breaking point,

Awful ache, I had to break through:

Neither the bow

Nor the book

Neither the book
Nor the bow
It couldnʼt be brooked any longer.
I heaved,
A while on the bed in half-sleep
Until I managed to recognize myself therein.
The bow and the book?
The bow
Bent and drew, smoothly, at last,
Without breaking.
The bookʼs binding
Didnʼt fall apart, at last,
Holding together openings on all pages.
The ache dissolved, slowly,
As it all fit together,
In a while I could lay myself down,
And fall asleep peacefully.
Throughout, the vertebrae
werenʼt given a single thought.
The "L. K." dedication is meant for the poet and translator
Ludvík Kundera (1920-2010)
Both initial characters of his name are the initial characters of two
keywords of the poem (Luk, Kniha - Bow, Book).


Jaromír sent me a recording of the poem in Czech. The translation by David Vichnar (2010) will be used as subtitles.
Listening to his steady voice and reading the translation gave me the idea of working with images of hands and  blank pages.
For music I went back to a recording I made earlier:


This worked fine with the poem and his voice. It was the music that gave me the final idea for the visuals. I wanted 'flickering' images to go with the 'cuts' in the music.
I filmed different empty pages, inside of books...
These were edited as the 'background' adding different layers of blue.
I combined different tracks with 'pages' together to create the feel of the different pages.
Lines (spines) and flickering colours.
After I made the background I started filming my hands; different poses, gestures (smooth and distorted, gentle, alone and together)
The hands tell a different tale, adding a new dimension to the whole.
Take a look for yourself;

Words and voice: Jaromír Typlt
Translation: David Vichnar
Concept, camera, editing & music: Swoon

Friday, 17 May 2013

Witness (Lissa Kiernan)

A confession.
I love the new issue on Qarrtsiluni; Animals in the City.
The variety is great (credit to the editors) and the quality (as always on Qarrtsiluni) really good.
So for the 11th time I picked out a poem (and podcast) to play around with.


I step out to buy toilet paper and through the chorus of cars,
I think I hear the delicate, steady clip-clop of horse hooves.
The sound grows insistent, and through the leaves of the trees,
I sight the tips of white feathers—plumes of white feathers

like river reeds swaying in tandem with the breeze. One by one,
two white horse heads materialize, nostrils flaring with indignity

at their frou-frou headdresses, at being roped to this surrey
in, of all places, Brooklyn. An old black man taps

a steadying hand to his lopsided top hat—it, too, a monstrosity—
as he begrudgingly flicks the reins. White limousines follow.

Surely this is a movie set or an Irish funeral. Then I spot them
in the back of the cart: a couple, just married from the looks

of her dress, a bit dazed and—could it be? Yes. Embarrassed,
Wondering just when this seemed like a good idea.

The woman—the new wife—sees me and waves, as if wanting
to make this the moment she’s dreamed, wanting the world to see

she is loved by someone who appears to be a nice-enough man.
He doesn’t wave, but he smiles, and tries to look less sheepish.

After all, it’s early November, late afternoon—
and there is yet some sun and someone to have seen them.

It's a poem written and read by Lissa Kiernan.

The track I wanted to lay this podcast in had to be a bit dreamy but also suspenseful and foreboding (with a small hint of mysteriousness)

something like the intro of this one:

The images had to be lush, but with a hint of decay. I had a vase with tulips, way past their ideal point of freshness. The petals falling gave me the idea for this video...

I re-edited the intro of the track to fit the podcast and made the
imagery glide over the track.
Anyway, have a look and listen;

Words & Voice: Lissa Kiernan
Concept, camera, editing & music: Swoon
Thanks: Qarrtsiluni (podcast 30/4/2013)

Friday, 10 May 2013

The Shipwright's Love Song (Jo Bell)

The Bristol Poetry festival has a nice spot for videopoetry: Liberated Words.
Their open call this year has 2 separate categories.
One of them is "Four by Four"
Videopoems of three minutes or less are invited as a response to a printed poem by four poets.
The poets and poems are:
Philip Gross: Heaps      
Lucy English: from 'Take Me to the City'
Jo Bell: The Shipwright’s Love Song
Johnny Fluffypunk: Bill Blake’s Birthday Cake for Adrian Mitchell

I picked out Jo Bell's 'The Shipwright's Love Song'

Oh, but the lines of her!
The curve and glinting swell –
the smell, as sweet as pitch pine,
thick and hot as tar.
Oh, I was launched and splashing in the slipway,
happy to be rudderless
and yawing, mast head
touching to the foam.

Oh, but her skin was salt,
was starred with gasping salt beneath my tongue,
and slowly
she came round to me –
bucking and slipping at my touch,
making way in fits and starts
to reach me and be calm.

Later, long before she rocked me into sleep
I saw the seas, saw all of them in one blue ache:
unlandmarked, vast; horizonless.

Reading this poem I immediately knew (felt) what I wanted for this video.
I had images made last year (visiting old boats with Alastair Cook) in Antwerp (left screen) and  earlier this year on St. Andrew's beach (right screen)
The images were 'tested' on several tracks.
'Maximum Suspicion' worked the best with the images, but I still needed a voice.

Nic Sebastian (still the most spot-on reader I know) was willing to participate and she provided me with a great recording almost the same day.
That reading steered me in the direction of another track. So I combined the intro and outro
of 'Maximum Suspicion' with this one:

All the elements now fitted perfectly.
Have a look and listen...

words: Jo Bell
Voice: Nic Sebastian
Concept, camera, editing & music: Swoon
Thanks: Katrijn Clemer

Friday, 3 May 2013

De bern ha it fjoer oanstutsen (Tsead Bruinja)

Tsead Bruinja is a poet from The Netherlands. He lives in Amsterdam, but is rooted in Fryslân.
He writes in different languages.
I met him at the last Stanza festival (Thanks to Michaël Vandebril for leading me to him) and was blown away by how beautiful the Frisian language(s) sounds.

After the festival I asked him if I could make a video for one of his Frisian poems.
Yes I could. Great.

A few weeks ago Tsead started to release (new) recordings from his latest collection 'Stofsûgersjongers / Stofzuigerzangers'  on soundcloud. I immediately picked out
De bern ha it fjoer oanstutsen to make a video for.


wy jouwe te folle ljocht tegearre
do en ik tinke dat se ús net sjogge
mar se sjogge ús

lykas besjogge se in himel
fol fallende stjerren op flylân
ein augustus

it is nacht op it eilân langstme
dat skûmkoppen fan ferwyt en ferlet oanfrette
en golle weagen fan belofte sân oansette

de bern ha it fjoer oanstutsen op it strân
it hast op in folwoeksen sûpen set en it oan elkoar bekend

sjogge inoar inoar inoar

ien boat kin my meinimme
mar dêrfoar moat ik slimmer siik wêze
en minder ljocht jaan

ien boat komt net
hoe't ik ek flok

baarnt ôf
op oare weagen

raand goud

de bern ha it fjoer oanstutsen
en wy

wy jouwe tefolle ljocht
I started out with creating a soundscape for this great and warm reading;

The images for this one gave me a bit of  a struggle. I wanted to stay away from the obvious link with light and fire. Tried out several things (Tulips losing their leaves, citynights, bare feet in water, ...)
and none of them made the right click with the poem or the music.
Back to the obvious...
I found great stockfootage from detailed fire-particles. They led me to the rest of the images and editing. So ther you go, sometimes the obvious images just work the best...

Tsead loved the result (Always a joy to hear) and promised me to work on an English translation, so you can expect a version with titles in the future.

Have a look and listen;

Words & Voice: Tsead Bruinja
Concept, Editing & Music: Swoon
Thanks: VFX Footage

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

I'm sorry but I've witnessed what's under your suburban bruises

Awkword Paper Cut is a brand new online magazine.
Meg Tuite a class A writer and editor (for Connotation Press, The Santa Fe Literary Review and Used Furniture Review.)

For Awkword Paper Cut's inaugural issue Meg Tuite asked me for a collaboration.
Never worked with Meg before and always up for new inputs, so yes.

She send me this poem; I'm sorry but I've witnessed what's under your suburban bruises
A bleak & heavy piece. The kind of poetry that starts creeping out of the back of your head and then
pulls out a hammer and hits you straight into your face.

Sorry, but I’ve witnessed what’s under your suburban bruises
A heart beats through those t-shirts
you used to wear.

‘You Bite!’ in white letters on black
across your chest
when we had sex
in your basement
while your dad shattered dishes
in your kitchen

cursing slurs
at your mom
crouched in her pastel

‘Chicago Bears’ jersey
blue with orange stripes on the shoulders
upstairs on the couch
you pass out
in my lap
your dad says
‘I’d like to be face down
in your crotch.’

‘Budweiser rips it’
faded red, white and blue
as I stare at the ceiling
in the basement

smacking fists
muffling an army of relatives
I’ve seen in your sneer

and your clumsy steps
wracked with
the ketchup of your family
embedded in your bloody eye
and swollen-gummed smirk

You kiss me
and then hold my arms down
rape the me of me
that doesn’t know me

Yeah, you dickered with me
over whose scars
a creepier basement

I almost forfeited
to those
wooden, creaking steps
of yours
that paralyzed me
back in time

At least your’s
were chronic and amplified

hollow stairs
were carpeted

engulfed in plush
flesh that struggled
underneath a whisper
the family tree
was stifled

The reading she did of this poem was as powerful. Fun stuff to work with.
The track I've put her reading to is

Something in the combination of her words/voice and these sounds led me back to a movie I used in antother video, FF Coppola's 'Dementia 13'
I picked out a few scenes and faces and started editing. Looked for the right movements that I could feature as some kind of recurring visual chorus.
In the end I added a layer of lights and colours.

Anyways, check for yourself...and check the first issue of Awkword Paper Cut to.

words & voice: Meg Tuite
Concept, camera, editing & music: Swoon
footage: Dementia 13 (FF Coppola)

Friday, 12 April 2013

Kodiak Station

This is the third music video for Reiziger

After making one for Shy Reptile and Bended Trees earlier this year, it was now time for the
titlesong of their album 'Kodiak Station' (check out the album and get it!)

The images for this video came from 'Ephemeral Rift'
He's one of the most original tinglesmiths in the whole ASMR community. Taking images from several of his performances and re-edit them gave the video the perfect touch of alienation and distress.
A search, a breakout.

have a look and listen...

Music: Reiziger
Footage: Ephemeral Rift
Concept, editing: Swoon

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

12 Simple Songs

Dave Bonta is not only the driving force behind the great source that is Moving Poems.
Dave is also a writer, poet and multi blogger.
A few weeks ago he published 'Twelve Simple Songs'  (check it out, it's really good)

"I guess the best one-line description for the chapbook would be: linked verses in dialogue with photographs about an intercontinental love affair. You might remember my blogging the poems back in January and February. I had the goal of a small chapbook in mind as I wrote, though I was never quite sure whether to speak of these “simple songs” in the plural or singular — most of them wouldn’t really work on their own." Dave Writes.

Nic Sebastian approached me with the idea of making a videopoem out of these 12 short poems.
She blogged about the way Dave made this collection accessible online and wanted to do readings of the 'Twelve Simple Songs'

Two reasons to say yes to this project:
Working with Nic's voice and interpretations is always a joy and it had been a while.

Dave's passion for poetry and videopoetry has been a huge influence on me and my work.
I think it's fair to say that Swoon wouldn't be where he's at without Dave.

To the cutting table.
Nic send me the audiofiles of her readings. Very good readings.
I wanted a track with a simple melody that pops up a few times against the backdrop of atmospheric disturbance. I went for this one;

and added a stream of atmospheric noises, clicks and crackles.

For images I went for a combination of simple images of nature, birds, the ocean, movement and structures. Most of it I filmed myself and I added a few pieces of footage by Matthew August, H.Hattori, Swee Sin Eng.
In the editing proces I chose to let slowed down footage of in and out of focus images (with a small touch of 'zen') go into battle with a sometimes frantic and nervous way of editing against the reading and the background noises.
Anyways, have look and listen for yourself;

Words: Dave Bonta
Idea & Voice: Nic Sebastian
Camera: Matthew August, H.Hattori, Swee Sin Eng & Swoon
Concept, Editing & Music: Swoon

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Het schampen van lichtgewicht kerels

Earlier this year Dutch poet Maartje Smits (who is one of the poets on the Deus Ex Machina album 'Uitgesproken') asked me if I was interested in a collaboration for the online magazine 'hard//hoofd'

I'm always interested in new collaborations.
She proposed a collab with Laura van der Haar, who had just won the Dutch Poetry Slam (2012)
Introductions were we go.

Mailing back and forth Laura and I decided to start from scratch.
I did send her a few tracks of me to 'get inspired' by and she picked out this one;

Based on that track she started writing and I went looking for images based on her first words.
Images I found in test-footage of two different filmmakers.
Jonathan Flint and Niklas Stagvall (Lantismadia) who were willing to let me use and re-edit that footage. Laura kept on writing after seeing the original footage. A poem started to appear...different versions...we kept some ones appeared... I started editing the footage to the chosen track. Weeks went by while Laura finished the poem. It's great to see where it started from and what it has turned into. Working like this is a rewarding proces.

Het schampen van lichtgewicht kerels

hoe het precies was weet je niet meer
het ging vlug en je wilde ook niet overdreven kijken
kijken alsof je echt oplet, daar kun je niet tegen

wel heb je nog snippers gevonden, vogelpootjes
die uiteindelijk dorre blaadjes bleken, harde
onder voeten krakende blaadjes

je trapt erop, per ongeluk, omdat het donker is of
omdat het toch al stuk is

je zocht alleen maar grond om in weg te zakken
uitzicht ‘s nachts, en een tak voor in het gezicht want
je hebt nu al heel wat dingen statisch laten worden
van iets heel gewoons een foto gemaakt, spullen in een berging verplaatst

je zoekt gewoon een plek waar het kan waaien
waar het waaien door niets meer gestopt wordt
waar je ook zelf op de grond moet gaan liggen, luisteren

het is niet pluis wat nu nog scharrelt

er was dus ooit iemand die een vlek uit je shirt haalde
die even in je schouders kneedde
schampte, een deuk maakte

je probeert nog altijd op een bepaalde manier binnen te komen maar
struikelen is niet
je van je sterkste kant laten zien 

She provided me with a few recordings and I brought all the ingredients together.
Look and listen for yourself;

Concept, Editing & Music: Swoon
Words and Voice: Laura van der Haar
Cinematography: Jonathan Flint & Niklas Stagvall