‘think on the slug’s white belly, how sick-slick and soft’

A Way to Love God by Robert Penn Warren new up at Pizzicati of Hosanna. I felt one way about this poem when I read it online, another way when I recorded it, and another way still now it’s uploaded.

It reminds me of Olduvai Gorge Thorn Tree by Sarah Lindsay.

Meanwhile, the Helen in Egypt project is progressing. I am sinking into it, or it is sinking into me. Still not sure why I am doing this, but there are 20 books in its three sections, of which two are up. Which makes the project 10% complete.

Pizzicati of Hosanna – update & videopoem triptychs

I was stoked to notice today that there are now 36 readings up at my new site, Pizzicati of Hosanna, and eighteen of them have videopoems associated with them! I’ve been working on linking the videopoem-ed pieces in triptychs at a new page on the site. It felt a bit weird initially to think of linking poems in different languages in this way, but after the first set came together, the differences in language began to seem minor and irrelevant. Warmest thanks to fellow videopoets Swoon, Dave Bonta and Rachel Laine for their wonderful video work on Pizzicati readings!

The first triptych, which I’ve called ‘Ashes Like Bread’, has a poem by Italian poet Primo Levi, one by American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay and a third by Bolivian poet Ricardo Jaimes Freyre. I’ve been haunted by Levi’s L’Approdo ever since I first read it, and in quick succession last week, I suddenly came across the Millay and the Freyre – both of which jumped out at me as deeply connected in feeling and metaphysical basis to the Levi, but each of which moved the joint narrative forward in different ways.

Once I’d made the initial intellectual leap (after all, why not link poems in different languages into triptychs?), other connections between the poems and their related videos began to leap out at me and these are the results. Representing, obviously, just one possible set of connections, since each poem could of course be meaningfully linked to others in different ways.

I have to say I’m enjoying the Pizzicati of Hosanna experience. After the Whale Sound experience, which was fast and contemporary and live, and filled with real-time contacts and connections with living Whale Sound poets, this experiment – working only with dead poets’ poems – feels more like doddering happily about among old books in a quiet library – a much more solitary and internal experience, and just as rewarding, I am finding (whether despite or because of the considerably less website traffic I am still deciding!).

After pretty much starting blind with French, Spanish and Italian poetry – finding pieces mostly through internet searches – I have now settled down to four resources:

Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology
Modern French Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology
Twentieth Century Italian Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology
The Oxford Book of American Verse

A very random set, but working nicely for doddering and pressure-free reading selections, for the moment.

videopoem – ‘anche tu sei l’amore’ by Cesare Pavese


Am finding I have a tendency to use certain footage two or three times, in different lengths or presentations. Like images in writing poetry, maybe – as when you find yourself repeating certain themes and images until you have written them out of your system. In this case, that eye (looking like a girl’s, an owl’s, a kestrel’s and who knows what else) and those Sufi girl dervishes (I always thought dervishes were always men – I was wrong!) are sticking with me, most definitely.

videopoem – ‘L’infinito’ by Giacomo Leopardi

Based on a recent Pizzicati of Hosanna reading.

Realized that so far it’s been mostly the Italian readings at Pizzicati of Hosanna that I’ve wanted to do video work for (hands-down favorite video so far: Forse Il Cuore by Salvatore Quasimodo). So far, we have three Italian videos, one Spanish, and no French. Still working out why this is so, especially since – knowing pretty much zero about any of those canons starting out – I am going for the obvious, the well-fingered and most-anthologized French, Spanish and Italian poems (whose authors are dead). The net result for me has been: very minor resonance with the French, somewhat more with the Spanish, and most with the Italian. They feel essentially very different to me. Foolhardy to generalize and stereotype, especially on so short an acquaintance, but I’ll stick my neck out and say the Italian ones have so far struck me as the most spiritually sophisticated. I’ll let you know if I still think that next week.

On a technical level, feel I may be getting to grips with layering. Still not able to get PowerDirector to do *exactly* what I want, but feel much more in control. This video stuff really “do by doing.” Impossible to lay out story-lines or visual narratives without getting hands on, without literally setting up the images and actually viewing them unfurl with the text. Neat sequences played out perfectly in your mind beforehand rarely work on the screen, I’m finding, and the process is essentially ‘well, that didn’t work, so how about this…?” repeated over and over again, until you get that right combination to which your whole body reacts. (Yeah – just like it reacts when you *know* you’ve found the perfect phrase or line for that poem you’re working on..).

Pizzicati of Hosanna update

Just getting these Pizzicati of Hosanna items into this blog’s archive:

Swoon made this terrific video of a Peter Quince at the Clavier reading and Dave Bonta made this great one of an H.D. reading (‘Orchard’).

New up at POH today: part II of T.S. Eliot’s Ash Wednesday and Marino by Vicente Huidobro. Ash Wednesday was a totally random choice and I chose part II because to be honest it’s the only segment of that whole piece I’ve ever really focused on. Now, of course, after paying proper voice & body attention to it, I want to read & record the whole thing. Voice truly is an organ of investigation – I started figuring that out with Whale Sound and am becoming progressively more dependent on voice to tell me what I think and like.