videopoem – ‘Idrissa’s Song’


Still fiddling with text vs voice in videopoems. For this one, I wanted to make a videopoem using both text and voice and to start out knowing which parts would be voice and which would be text. I considered trying to make a video from one of the antiphonies in Dark and Like A Web (antiphony on the plain and antiphony in the hills). With two ‘voices’ clearly delineated in each poem, it would be easy to work the duality, I thought. But I ran into imaginative problems, in that I couldn’t think of anything but the most literal footage (giraffe, volcano, mamba, storm clouds, church bells) to illustrate either of the poems. Then I thought of using an epigraph. How about making an epigraph the text portion and weaving it through the poem body, which would be in voice? I used this Hugo of St. Victor quotation as an epigraph for a 4,000-word fantasy on place and belonging I have been working on forever, but for this project I combined the epigraph with a condensed version of a much shorter poem in the same vein. I continue to be very frustrated with the limited text animation capabilities of my software (PowerDirector, which is otherwise excellent), and have now decided to investigate ‘text animation’ as a separate capability.

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Text of videopoem:

‘The person who finds his homeland sweet is a tender beginner; he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong; but he is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign place.’

- Hugo of St. Victor

‘Idrissa’s Song’ by Nic Sebastian

I
wake me, then, from sleep among the shrimp pools of Khulna, from mirrors at midnight and blueness in dark

under an owl sky, I will shed my sleeping mat and step to the bamboo frontier of my domain: a hut of thatch on stilts, bound in bamboo and reed, rising fragile over the jet and silver pools lying beneath my sleep

is not each pool a door

2
a jackal barks
and, freed, I stride away
to wild bee song
to the black dark of Sundarban honey
and the mangrove forest
to swarm beneath the twisted
naked root of the sea tree
and hear the Bengal tiger’s hunger call
and feel its rage upon me,
who am stranger and tall, and young, and hard

3
the heat of blood runs down my back and thighs
and the hills of Rangamati are steep
elephants roam these hills

in the teak forest, great shadows sear my rushing skin
and when I reach the road to Chittagong
I see I have been branded
with elephant mark

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