Indelible Winter

Official Selection | Austin Spotlight Film Festival | January 24, 2018

Palpitations of Dust

 Official Selection | Logcinema Art Films | Jan 13-14, 2018

Semi-Finalist | German United Film Festival | January 1, 2018

Honorary Mention (Experimental) | Los Angeles Film Awards | December 2017

Pre-Selection | Singapore International Film Festival | December 2017

Official Selection (Experimental) | Near Nazareth Festival | December 13-17, 2017

Pre-Selection | Rome Film Awards | October 18, 2017

Winner (Experimental) | Laughlin International Film Festival | October 12-15, 2017

Official Selection | San Pedro Film Festival | October 8, 2017

Semi-Finalist | Madrid Art Film Festival | September 29-30, 2017

Semi-Finalist | Cinema London | September 22, 2017

Official Selection | Festival Angelica | September 18-24, 2017

Best Experimental Project Nomination | Action on Film Festival | August 24-26, 2017

Best Sound Design (Short) Nomination, Best Supporting Actor (Short) Nomination | Hollywood Dreamz International Film Festival | August 24-26, 2017

Semi-Finalist | Malta Film Festival | August 24-25, 2017

Best Experimental Short Film | Prince of Prestige Academy Award | July 29, 2017

Best Director (Short Film) Nomination, Best Actor Nomination, Best Director Nomination | World Music & Independent Film Festival | July 22-30, 2017

Official Selection (Narrative) | Synimatica Short Film Festival | July 15-30, 2017

Official Selection | California Women’s Film Festival | July 14-16, 2017

Talented New Filmmaker Nomination | Nice International Film Festival | May 18, 2017

Official Selection (Autumn Session) | Auckland International Film Festival | Autumn 2017

Nomination | Taste Awards | February 20, 2017

Official Selection | Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival | February 17, 2017

Best Experimental Film | Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood | January 11, 2017

Official Selection (Short Film) | 5th Mumbai Shorts International Film Festival | December 21, 2016

Best Experimental Film | Los Angeles Film & Script Festival | November 5, 2016

Winner of Award of Recognition (Experimental) | IndieFEST | October 11, 2016

About Ann Huang

Ann Huang is a filmmaker based in Newport Beach, Southern California. Huang was born in Mainland China and raised in Mexico and the US. World literature and theatrical performances became dominating forces during her linguistic training at various educational institutions. Huang possesses a unique global perspective on the past, present and future of Latin America, the United States and China. She is an MFA candidate from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and has authored one chapbook and two poetry collections. Huang’s debut experimental short film “PALPITATIONS OF DUST” won the Best Experimental Film in 2017 PAECA (Prince of Prestige Academy Award), Best Award in Los Angeles Film & Script Festival, and Best Experimental Film in LA Cinema Festival of Hollywood. For more information, visit http://annhuang.com.

2017 Nice Independent Filmmaker & Auckland International Film Festivals Nominate & Screen “Palpitations of Dust”

Ann Huang FilmmakerContact
Ann Huang
Independent Filmmaker
Phone: (949) 280-5290
huang.yuwei.ann@gmail.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

 2017 Nice Independent Filmmaker & Auckland International Film Festivals Nominate & Screen “Palpitations of Dust”

June 2017: The 2017 Nice International Filmmaker Festival nominated Ann Huang for their Talented New Filmmaker Award. In addition, her film “Palpitations of Dust” was nominated for Best Cinematography in a Short Film. The film was screened on May 18, 2017 in Nice, France.

View the screening schedule: http://filmfestinternational.com/may-18th-room-1-nice-iff-2017/

Since 2006 the festival has given Indie Filmmakers a platform to showcase their work. From humble beginnings in Tenerife, they now host events in some of Europe’s most renowned cities, including Nice, London, Amsterdam, Madrid, Berlin, and Milan.

The festival is a week-long showcasing of films that concludes with an awards ceremony gala dinner, where winners from each of category receive a prestigious trophy in recognizing their talents and achievements.

The renowned festivals also include workshops, guest speakers, film premieres, director Q&As, networking events, and much more. The events support filmmakers around the world by establishing and connecting a profoundly rich community of like-minded individuals.

Learn more about the festival in Nice as well as upcoming festivals in other cities by visiting http://filmfestinternational.com/

The Auckland International Filmmaker Festival jury selected Ann Huang’s film, “Palpitations of Dust,” for their autumn session awards.

The acclaimed Auckland Film Festival provides support to independent film-makers through reviewing, judging, marketing, and networking. In addition, the festival aids filmmakers in overcoming any obstacles which potentially hinder the artist’s ability to create.

Official_Selection_Autumn_2017_Color

Visit http://www.aiff.co.nz/ to learn more.

About Ann Huang

Ann Huang was born and raised in Mainland China and her passion for words dates back to her childhood. World literature and theatrical performances became dominating forces during her linguistic training at various educational institutions. As a first generation Chinese American, Huang possesses a unique global perspective on the past, present and future of Latin America, the United States and China. She is an MFA candidate from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and has authored two poetry collections. For more information, visit http://annhuang.com.

Meshes of the Afternoon by Maya Deren

Poetry & Film Fuse in the Works of Maya Deren

Meshes of the Afternoon by Maya Deren

One of the most influential filmmakers in American cinema and a pioneer in dance films, Maya Deren (1917-1961) believed the function of film was to offer a viewer an experience that would evoke new conclusions. As with her poetry, Deren’s focus continually evolved and remained dynamic as she combined her interests in subjective psychology, dance and Haitian culture in her short films. Deren’s best-known and most influential experimental film, Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), beautifully combines poetic elements with cinematic devices. In 2015, the BBC hailed it as one of the top 100 greatest American films. Deren’s popular cinematic works also include At Land, Ritual in Transfigured Time, Meditation in Violence, and A Study in Choreography for Camera.

Maya Deren best expressed her view of the freedoms of independent cinema when she said, “Artistic freedom means that the amateur filmmaker is never forced to sacrifice visual drama and beauty to a stream of words…to the relentless activity and explanations of a plot…nor is the amateur production expected to return profit on a huge investment by holding the attention of a massive and motley audience for 90 minutes…Instead of trying to invent a plot that moves, use the movement of wind, or water, children, people, elevators, balls, etc. as a poem might celebrate these. And use your freedom to experiment with visual ideas; your mistakes will not get you fired.”

‘Meshes of the Afternoon’ and its Influence

Using a second-hand Bolex camera, Deren and husband Alexander Hammid created Meshes of the Afternoon. It was the first narrative work in avant-garde American film, establishing the New American Cinema. The editing and filming techniques used in the short have a deep sense of rhythm and create a sense of continued motion through discontinued space, conveying a deeper meaning of discomfort and distrust. The abandoning of the concepts of space and time in the film, the juxtaposition of shots, and multiple views of “self” convey a stream of consciousness that breaks viewer expectations.

Compelling themes throughout Deren’s work include reflection, dreaming, vision, ritual, identity and rhythm. Meshes of the Afternoon directly inspired David Lynch, John Coney, Su Friedrich, Stan Brakhage, Kenneth Anger and other major traditional and experimental filmmakers.

Deren on the Freedoms of Independent Cinema

When discussing the liberties of independent cinema, Deren was opposed to Hollywood’s practices and standards. She felt that artistic freedom meant never sacrificing visual beauty and drama to spoken lines and explanations of plot. Deren took advantage of movements that happened naturally—the wind blowing, balls bouncing, water running—rather than invent plots. She stated that when an artist uses his or her freedom to experiment with visual ideas, mistakes are forgiven.

At the 1953 Poetry and Film Symposium, Deren stated that poetry “is an approach to experience.” She explained that a poem’s structure makes it distinct. Its construct is the result of a situation’s vertical investigation, as it looks into a moment’s implications, qualities and depth. Deren stated that the result is poetry that doesn’t focus on what’s happening, but on how a situation feels or means.

Filmmaker and Poet, Ann Huang, has long been inspired by the Deren’s works. Cinematic and poetic visions influenced her first film, Palpitations of Dust. Reviews received from a film festival’s screening committee further support that Huang’s work reflects the freedom ideas promoted by Maya Deren:

“Interesting juxtaposition of the actors and artwork with the poems.”

“Loved the dichotomy of the Renaissance art with the visuals of the film.”

Surrealists suggest that art is a part of life. Therefore, it is vital that filmmaking be viewed as pure and keen as automatic writing or poetry writing. Poetry, filmmaking and other forms of art make the invisible, undocumented moments in an individual’s life tangible. For example, these moments are eloquent yet mysterious, wise yet innocent, and charismatic yet elusive. The portion of existence that survives without an audience must be preserved for an artist to remain whole.

poetry translation

How Culture and Literature Intertwine During Poetry Translation

poetry translationIn the United States, a trainer is an individual who teaches skills. In Great Britain, it is an athletic shoe. A bog in the U.S. is a swamp. In Great Britain, it’s a toilet. In Oregon, a buggy is an old-fashioned term for a stroller, horse carriage or car. In North Carolina, it’s a modern term for a shopping cart.

Even when nations speak the same language, the cultures within it greatly influence what different words mean. When translating poetry, an individual must take a broad idea that can be interpreted in many different ways and translate it into a recognizable, familiar idea that remains true to the original text. The skill is a subject activity and multi-faceted process tangled with linguistic and cultural restraints that lends itself to new interpretations that the original poet may have never imagined.

Cultural Considerations When Translating Poetry

Literary and Cultural Understanding and Bias

One of the most challenging tasks when translating poetry is communicating culture-specific ideas because a translation isn’t just affected by the poet’s culture, but also the translator’s understanding of and biases toward the poet’s and target’s culture. Ancient Romans understood this during their conquests. To introduce Romans to Greek culture, for example, Roman translators carefully imitated Grecian stylistic elements to keep the literature as faithful to the original literature as possible. After conquering Greece, however, Roman translators did not feel the need to pay as much attention to preserving the integrity of the original texts. Instead, they adapted the texts as a way of demonstrating Roman literary achievements. As a result, the translations didn’t serve as an imitation or interpretation; they were the competition. The translations accommodated Roman views of Grecian society. This was not the first culture to do this, nor will it be the last.

Metaphors

Metaphors are one of the most important elements of figurative language and are often ripe with culture-specific undertones. They contain the core of a poet’s message and serve as a source of enrichment for the target audience. Because metaphors often relate to a culture’s customs and history, they may create unique difficulties in translations.

Metaphors born of traditions, religious beliefs, geographical surroundings, environment and historical events are sometimes difficult to translate. In English, for instance, the word dog is relatively neutral. An individual might say a lottery winner is a lucky dog. In Chinese, the word dog may have a derogatory connotation and be a word used to describe someone who is snobby or mean. When a metaphor in the original language does not make sense in the target language, an individual might have to translate metaphors using similes to retain the original idea or image.

Allusions

Allusions in poetry can be just as difficult, if not more difficult, to translate if the cultures in question did not share the same history or texts. When an Arab poet alludes to Qu’ranic texts, for example, a Western reader might not understand the scriptural origins. In such instances, a translator might have to provide a reader with footnotes, glossary or other notes to explain the context of the idea.

Translating the nuances found in poetry is a complicated yet vital task. When a translator sees culture as a collection of experiences that give daily life its form, the individual links more than just words; she links worlds.

brown film spiral

Transmedia Storytelling: How to Promote Your Poetry or Experimental Film (Part II)

brown film spiral
Last month, I introduced you to my experimental film Palpitations of Dust (https://vimeo.com/180268104), which has won recognition at film festivals. When you’re ready to release your film, it isn’t enough to premier it in a theater if you want it to draw attention. You must take steps to promote it and make it appealing to your audience. Therefore, what you do after completing an experimental film is just as important as the film itself. By knowing marketing basics, you can turn your passion into a profitable venture.

Marketing Your Experimental Film

If you are serious about filmmaking, you must treat your craft like a business. You cannot make a film and hope that it will do well in the theater and make sales online. You must take steps to showcase your unique vision and create a buzz. Those steps depend on information, such as your audience’s:

  • Age
  • Geographic location
  • Preferred movie genres
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Gender
  • How they consume information
  • Preferred social media platforms

In today’s technological age, you will find that your audience consumes information from a number of sources because they also want to feel as if they have a role in what you offer. This is where transmedia storytelling comes into play. The marketing technique helps set your film apart from the other noise on the Internet by using multiple media platforms to transport your message into your audience’s daily life. By using transmedia storytelling, you transition from telling a story to making one with your audience.

With Palpitations of Dust, I used poems that I wrote in the past, film festivals, video-on-demand and social media to make the story come together. Ideas that others use to market their own films include:

  • Creating a film festival strategy
  • Entering a film for an award
  • Showing teasers and trailers on social media platforms just prior to releasing the film to create a sense of excitement
  • Hanging posters and handing out fliers in the community where you plan to premier the film
  • Creating a website and social media pages dedicated to the film
  • Using social media before and after a screening to connect with your audience and keep the conversation going
  • Submitting the film to VOD services and television networks
  • Hosting special screening events
  • Email marketing and flyer for promotion purposes
  • Submitting press releases to local newspapers and news websites, such this one (http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/11/prweb13821729.htm) for Palpitations of Dust

Do You Need an Agent or Publicist?

The answer to this question depends on your needs. An agent is an individual who takes care of the business aspects of your endeavor so you can focus on the creative aspects. These professionals negotiate contracts, give guidance, and provide creative feedback. They learn about your goals and devise a plan to help you meet them. They can also connect you to other professionals that you might need for a film, such as producers. If filmmaking is a hobby, you might not need an agent. If it is a serious career, an agent can prove invaluable.

Hiring a publicist is a good idea if a major film festival screens your experimental film. This individual can help you develop strong publicity materials, get you in touch with the right press contacts, manage festival publicity and marketing campaigns, raise your film’s media profile, arrange interviews, and maximize the exposure your film receives.

The only thing more exciting than writing poetry or making a film is sharing your talents with others. Strategic transmedia storytelling will help get the ball rolling by expanding the narrative that you create into the lives of your audience, making your fans your greatest evangelists and assets.

spiral film strip from movie

Where to Promote Your Poetry or Experimental Film (Part I)

spiral film strip from movieTransmedia storytelling is a popular trend that you may have experienced without knowing it. It encompasses dispersing a work or parts of a work across multiple platforms to provide an audience with a unified, coordinated experience. The Hunger Games is a great example in which Lionsgate and Campfire used billboards, social media, videos, fan challenges, websites and cinemas to tell the complete story about the universe in which the movie characters live. If you are a writer or filmmaker, you don’t need to collaborate with a major film studio to promote your own work. In 2016, I released the experimental film Palpitations of Dust (https://vimeo.com/180268104). By using outlets available to the public, I successfully promoted my film and engaged its audience.

Transmedia Storytelling Basics

In transmedia storytelling, the platforms used to promote your works contribute to its unfolding story. In Palpitations of Dust, I narrated poems that I published in the past to give viewers an enhanced and more immersive experience. Because I used different platforms to promote the film, I gave my audience different points of entry to experience it, as well as an invitation and incentive to immerse themselves in the world that I created.

The Best Poets to Pitch Your Experimental Film

Many experimental films combine different types of art in a manner that might seem unconventional. Along with using actors and paintings in Palpitations of Dust, I narrated poems that I wrote. Many filmmakers use poems written by other artists. Often, the best poets or poetry laureates to pitch your film to are individuals you know. The poet laureate I worked with was Jean Valentine who has been my mentor in New York, and Ralph Angel who has been my teacher for the last two years, based in Los Angeles.

Promoting Your Experimental Film

Theaters

Good theaters to premier your films in are those that routinely show experimental films, such as community theaters and art houses, because they already have an audience that’s interested in your genre. Some of these theaters are part of or have a relationship with college campuses with active film programs.

Film Festivals

Film festivals are great for showing your work to the world because they have an audience that wants to see it. Festival screenings are also ideal because they naturally create buzz about films and the talents behind them. Below are some of the popular festivals for short films in the United States and around the world:

I recently had the honor of winning the Best Experimental Film award at the 2016 Los Angeles Film and Script Festival for Palpitations of Dust, as well as an Award of Recognition in the experimental film category at IndieFEST. The film is also nominated for Official Selection: Best Mini Film or Documentary at the TASTE AWARDS, which will announce the winner in February 2017.

Palpitations of Dust is pre-selected for the first annual Pacific Coast Premier and the Near Nazareth Festival. I also screened the film at the Oasis Short Film Festival, which showcases the emerging talent of the next generation filmmakers who don’t necessarily have big budgets or industry-filmmaker connections to be recognized.

Raindance, iFilmfest and the Underground Film Journal are great resources that list several festivals for screening experimental films.

Online Streaming Video Services

Video-on-demand, or VOD, services are great ways to give your audience a way to view a film from any device with an Internet connection. The most popular platforms include:

Sonnyboo lists media outlets that seek short films. PBS also lists popular digital self-distribution options that do not have a curation process.

Visit my blog next month to learn more about transmedia storytelling and how to promote your experimental film.

Are There Any Rules for Translating Poetry?

Poetry writing and translation rulesAs an art form, poetry doesn’t have hard and fast rules. While there are elements that make up certain types of poems, such as rhyme and meter, there is no “wrong” way to write poetry. The same, however, is not necessarily true for poetry translations. Translations can be a beautiful way to share a poet’s works with the world. Without them, people around the globe would not have been exposed to the masterful works of William Shakespeare, Federico García Lorca, Rumi and many others. The problem with translations, however, is that they become the translator’s work, a work based on the original poet’s ideas. To prevent misrepresenting an original poem’s spirit, there are guidelines that translators follow to keep their words as intimately related to the work in question.

Guidelines for Translating Poetry

Be fluent in the languages with which you work.

If you Google Translate to have a conversation with an individual who speaks a different language than you, you’ll quickly find that phrases don’t always translate well. Sayings that make perfect sense in U.S. English could be nonsensical in other languages, and vice versa. Having intimate knowledge of the poet’s language and the target language will bring you a step closer to staying true to the original text.

Understand the poet’s culture and history.

Having a rudimentary understanding of a language is not enough. You must also be familiar with a poet’s culture and life in his or her point in history. An understanding of a poet’s culture allows you to recognize when a direct translation of a phrase will not work well. A translator who understands the Latvian language and culture, for instance, will see the phrase, “Ej bekot,” and know that a poet doesn’t necessarily mean, “Go pick mushrooms,” which is the literal translation. He or she will know that this phrase means, “Leave me alone,” or “Go away.”

In addition to understanding colloquialisms, a translator should be aware of the respective language’s evolution. An individual translating Shakespeare into another language, for example, should know that phrases like, “Well met,” and, “Good morrow,” as seen in Henry V, are greetings that people during the poet’s era often said.

Stay as true to the original poem as closely as possible.

When translating a poem, you must stay as close to the original meaning as possible in a manner that mimics its original essence and structure. Doing this not only requires a deep understanding of the respective languages, but also the poem itself. For instance, an individual who doesn’t know that Walt Whitman’s “O Captain! My Captain!” is about Abraham Lincoln’s death will not capture the work’s true meaning in a translation.

Staying close and true to the poem also means feeling and reflecting a poem’s rhythm, pauses, beats, grammatical structure and swirls. If a poet intentionally used words to give a work a specific meter or sound, or places stress on key words, a good translation will replicate these characteristics.

Translating a poem is far from a simple process. It’s often messy and requires deconstruction, erasing, rewriting and starting over. It is this process, however, that brings the gift of literature to others, making your efforts worthwhile and invaluable.

Below are some examples of Ann Huang’s translated poems from Classical Chinese to English. They were published on the National Translation Month website in September 2016.

Ann Huang is a marketing manager based in Newport Beach, California. She grew up in China, moved to Mexico when she was a teen, and is an MFA candidate from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Huang has authored two poetry collections. Her poem, “Night Lullaby,” was a Ruth Stone Poetry Prize finalist. She is at work translating Tang dynasty poet Li Shang-Yin 李商隐.

Poem 1

Untitled

When we meet,

we don’t want to leave each other,

The east wind can’t help

blowing the petals, can’t

bring them back.

Silk worms stop giving

silk till he dies, and my

tears won’t dry until

the candle light fades out.

I look at the mirror and see

my dark hair grow gray,

I drink at night alongside frail

moonlight.

Once you climb onto the mountain roads

to the monastery,

there will be few ways out.

Perhaps there will

only be blue birds that

expect you to come back.

 

Poem 2

Untitled (2)

At eight you found yourself gazing

into the mirror discreetly, and drew

your long eyebrows.

At ten you journeyed out, and

adorned your skirt shorts

with hibiscus.

At twelve you learned to

play the flute, and never lost

your affection.

At fourteen, you hid from ancient

customs and distant relatives,

avoided arranged marriages.

At fifteen you wept in the spring air,

turned your back facing down

just like a swinger.

 

Poem 3

Untitled (3)

Last night’s stars twinkled in the

damp cool winds, from

painted floors like western meadows

held the party in the east.

Without the pair of Phoenix’s wings,

we cannot fly together, our souls

touching, our spirits connected

through a thread of harmony.

Across the table, we diverted and converted

our drinks into warm streams. There,

we unveiled the mystery and discovered the

true hearts in the heated crowd.

Sighing– when the drum struck

to usher me back to work. A horse

ride turned my disillusion to

the orchids, where my empty future stands.

Translations That Get Adopted as Originals in Their Target Culture

dictionary for poetry translation

Neruda once declared, “Nothing remains except that which was written with blood to be listened to by blood.” Neruda trusts and celebrates his senses and inextricably links his experiences, quite specifically, to the natural world he loves: to the damp forests of southern Chile; to the thick, gnarled roots of the pines deeply penetrating the earth; to the lonely rains that occluded the sun and cast the world through its fine veils; to the roiling rivers and seas that brought renewal and hope and, sometimes, destruction. For Neruda, this tightly woven web of nature symbolism became a grid through which he could begin to make sense of his life, to explore both the spiritual and physical worlds. For him, it was a continuous geography.

He spoke to the Chilean people of their mountains and trees, of their rivers and nocturnal flowers, of their dreams. Neruda held up a mirror in which Chileans could view themselves and be pleased. Reading Neruda, they could feel a common identity beyond their separate lives, landmarks, and scents they could call their own.

Several artistic and literary movements emerged that reflected the social and philosophical crises of the times: cubism, futurism, Dadaism, ultraism, creationism, modernism, and in the same year that Neruda published Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, the explosion of surrealism.

With their gorgeous sweep and intimacy, their sensuality and rhapsody, and their “secret revelations of nature,” Neruda’s poems also made me want to reclaim Spanish, the language of my teenage years. It is not an exaggeration to say that they helped me to discover who I was what I was meant to do. How I sang these poems aloud, again and again, in Spanish and in English, for the pure joy of hearing them on my tongue, for the imagery they conjured up and the longings they roused.

Neruda’s poetry challenged readers to less static lives, lives susceptible to transformation, like nature itself. He talks about Chilean earth, the country, more so in a subconscious state to illustrate to his countrymen the country’s beauty as opposed to the physical beauty of a woman. There is this raw sense of patriotism, natural, imperative and inherent. It shows the political climate at the time in Chile, whilst the people in Chile despise their government in comparison to the sense of darkness of the night. Neruda’s poetics are more indirect in showing the pain and they are whimsical and charming combined with melancholy.

Merwin’s translation evokes more the inclusive experience of an individual, more on a conscious level (of choices and of knowing), a man’s perception on his woman’s physical and spiritual beauty. His translation of Neruda’s poems is solemn and straightforward.

Below are four Spanish-English original translation comparison examples of Pablo Neruda’s poems, translated by W.S Merwin.

SIEMPRE

Antes de mí
no tengo celos.

Ven con un hombre
a la espalda,
ven con cien hombres en tu cabellera,
ven con mil hombres entre tu pecho y tus pies,
ven como un río lleno de ahogados
que encuentra el mar furioso,
la espuma eterna, el tiempo.

Tráelos todos
adonde yo te espero:
siempre estaremos solos,
siempre estaremos tú y yo
solos sobre la tierra
para comenzar la vida.

Pablo Neruda.

ALWAYS

I am not jealous
of what came before me. [1]

Come with a man
on your shoulders,
come with a hundred men in your hair,
come with a thousand men between your breasts and your feet,

come like a river
full of drowned men
which flows down to the wild sea,
to the eternal surf, to Time!
Bring them all
to where I am waiting for you;
we shall always be alone,
we shall always be you and I
alone on earth,
to start our life!

[1] I always understood before as a true temporal adverb but curiously there are other English translations appear to be “…facing you, I’m not jealous..”. I’m not saying that they are not consistent texts, only wonder about the accuracy of the temporary nature of the word before as the potential meaning for the poet.

CUERPO DE MUJER

Cuerpo de mujer, blancas colinas, muslos blancos,

te pareces al mundo en tu actitud de entrega.
Mi cuerpo de labriego salvaje te socava
y hace saltar el hijo del fondo de la tierra.

Fui solo como un túnel. De mí huían los pájaros
y en mí la noche entraba su invasión poderosa.
Para sobrevivirme te forjé como un arma,
como una flecha en mi arco, como una piedra en mi honda.

Pero cae la hora de la venganza, y te amo.
Cuerpo de piel, de musgo, de leche ávida y firme.
Ah los vasos del pecho! Ah los ojos de ausencia!
Ah las rosas del pubis! Ah tu voz lenta y triste!

Cuerpo de mujer mía, persistiré en tu gracia.
Mi sed, mi ansia sin límite, mi camino indeciso!
Oscuros cauces donde la sed eterna sigue,
y la fatiga sigue, y el dolor infinito.

Pablo Neruda.

 

BODY OF A WOMAN

Body of a woman, white hills, white thighs,

you look like a world, lying in surrender.[2]
My rough peasant’s body digs in you
and makes the son leap from the depth of the earth.

I was alone like a tunnel. The birds fled from me,
and night swamped me with its crushing invasion.[3]
To survive myself I forged you like a weapon,
like an arrow in my bow, a stone in my sling.

But the hour of vengeance falls, and I love you.
Body of skin, of moss, of eager and firm milk.
Oh the goblets of the breast! Oh the eyes of absence!
Oh the roses of the pubis! Oh your voice, slow and sad!

Body of my woman, I will persist in your grace.
My thirst, my boundless desire, my shifting road![4]
Dark river-beds where the eternal thirst flows
and weariness follows, and the infinite ache.

[2] Merwin’s translation is quite powerful and literary, compared to other popular versions that are more conscious-driven and literal in your attitude of giving.

[3] Here Merwin’s translation exceeds again over other popular translations by focusing on “… en mi…” hence, the night became an active role. The other popular translation would be “I was invaded by the power of the night.”

[4] Shifting road on top of boundless desire is complementing, much stronger than “my infinite anguish, my indecisive path…”even though this is less close as a translation version, it is closer to what Neruda meant originally.

INCLINADO EN LAS TARDES

Inclinado en las tardes tiro mis tristes redes
a tus ojos oceánicos.

Allí se estira y arde en la mas alta hoguera
mi soledad que da vueltas los brazos como un naufrago.

Hago rojas señales sobre tus ojos ausentes
que olean como el mar a la orilla de un faro.

Solo guardas tinieblas, hembra distante y mía,
de tu mirada emerge a veces la costa del espanto.

Inclinado en las tardes echo mis tristes redes
a ese mar que sacude tus ojos oceánicos.

Los pájaros nocturnos picotean las primeras estrellas
que centellean como mi alma cuando te amo.

Galopa la noche en su yegua sombría
desparramando espigas azules sobre el campo.

Pablo Neruda.

LEANING INTO THE AFTERNOONS

Leaning into the afternoons I cast my sad nets
towards your oceanic eyes.

There in the highest blaze my solitude lengthens  and flames,
its arms turning like a drowning man’s.

I send out red signals across your absent eyes[5]
that move like the sea near a lighthouse.[6]

You keep only darkness, my distant female,
from your regard sometimes the coast of dread emerges.

Leaning into the afternoons I fling my sad nets
to that sea that is thrashed by your oceanic eyes.

The birds of night peck at the first stars
that flash like my soul when I love you.

The night gallops on its shadowy mare[7]
shedding blue tassels over the land.

[5] Other popular translations use the word “over” to hinder “sobre” instead of “across.” It’s interesting to see the different perspective from Merwin’s translation, so the protagonist is sending red signals TO her instead of ABOVE her, which connects well to Neruda’s political inferences the next line.

[6] “Smell” would be a typical choice for “olean.” However, “move” is the more sensible option. This way, the protagonist becomes the sea or the people of Chile, and the lighthouse has transformed to be the government that needed enlightenment. Here, Merwin’s translation makes a big leap from personal yearnings to state-level affairs.

[7] The choice “its” for “su” instead of “her” does reinforce the political interpretative layer linking to [6].

ME GUSTAS CUANDO CALLAS

Me gustas cuando callas porque estas como ausente,
y me oyes desde lejos, y mi voz no te toca.
Parece que los ojos se te hubieran volado
y parece que un beso te cerrara la boca.

Como todas las cosas estan llenas de mi alma
emerges de las cosas, llena del alma mia.
Mariposa de sueno, te pareces a mi alma,
y te pareces a la palabra melancolia.

Me gustas cuando callas y estas como distante.
Y estas como quejandote, mariposa en arrullo.
Y me oyes desde lejos, y mi voz no te alcanza:
dejame que me calle con el silencio tuyo.

Dejame que te hable tambien con tu silencio
claro como una lampara, simple como un anillo.
Eres como la noche, callada y constelada.
Tu silencio es de estrella, tan lejano y sencillo.

Me gustas cuando callas porque estas como ausente.
Distante y dolorosa como si hubieras muerto.
Una palabra entonces, una sonrisa bastan.
Y estoy alegre, alegre de que no sea cierto.

Pablo Neruda.

I LIKE FOR YOU TO BE STILL

I like for you to be still: because it is as though you were absent, [8]
and you hear me from far away and my voice does not touch you.
It seems as though your eyes had flown away
and it seems that a kiss had sealed your mouth.

As all things are filled with my soul
you emerge from the things, filled with my soul.
You are like my soul, a butterfly of dream,
and you are like the word Melancholy.

I like for you to be still, and you seem far away.
It sounds as though you were lamenting, a butterfly cooing like a dove. [9]
And you hear me from far away, and my voice does not reach you:
Let me come to be still in your silence.

And let me talk to you with your silence
that is bright as a lamp, simple as a ring. [10]
You are like the night, with its stillness and constellations.
Your silence is that of a star, as remote and candid.

I like for you to be still: it is as though you were absent,
distant and full of sorrow as though you had died.
One word then, one smile, is enough.
And I am happy, happy that it’s not true.

 

[8] A better translation for this line should be “I like you when you are quiet,” in the sense that stillness is not enough, quietness on both physical movement and speaking terms would be.

[9] Here I’d translate to “a butterfly in lullaby” for “mariposa en arrullo.”

[10] I’d like the word “clear” for “claro” here because of the narrator’s unblemished reasons, not in reference to the light intensity.

5 Techniques Used by Surrealist Poets

surrealist sculpture

Inspired by Dadaism and the writings of Sigmund Freud, Surrealist poets give the imagination and dreams as much precedence as logic and reason. The writers use the unconscious mind to explain rational life. To free the imagination, poets use a variety of techniques that liberate the mind of conscious control.

Surrealist Poetry Techniques

Exquisite corpse game:

Writers use games as a way to have fun and investigate their minds when writing Surrealist poetry. Games break traditional thought patterns, allowing thoughts to be more random and ideas to flow more freely.

In the exquisite corpse game, players take turn writing down words on a piece of paper. After one person writes a set of words based on the rules (e.g., adjective noun / adjective verb / adjective noun), the individual folds the piece of paper to conceal the writing and passes it to the next person. Leader of the Surrealist movement, André Breton, developed the game with his friends, in which they wrote, “The exquisite corpse will drink the young wine.”

Palindrome poem:

Palindrome poems are visual works of art, creating a mirror image. They masterfully read the same backwards and forwards, as in the following poem by Jerry P. Quinn.

Unseen Travelers

Spoken Breath
Creating flesh and spirit
Souls stirring divine dances
Leaping, joyful with life
Entertaining harmony and grace
Angels of myriads and myriads
Sentinel watchers
Merging unseen
~Travelers~
Unseen merging
Watchers, Sentinel
Myriads and myriads of angels
Grace and harmony entertaining
Life with joyful leaping
Dances divine, stirring souls
Spirit and flesh creating
Breath spoken.

Echo poem:

In an echo poem, a technique invented by Aurélien Dauguet in 1972, one or more people write on a piece of paper divided into two columns. After the first poet writes a line in the left column, the second poet “echoes” by writing a stanza that rhymes or sounds phonetically the same in the right column. Many times the echo is one or two words. An example of an echo poem is Fred Chappell and John Niedzwiecki’s “Narcissus and Echo.” The echoing words create a poem of their own.

Shall the water not remember                   Ember
my hand’s slow gesture, tracing above    of
its mirror my half-imaginary                     airy
portrait? My only belonging                      longing
is my beauty, which I take                          ache
away and then return, as love                    of
of teasing playfully the one being             unbeing.
whose gratitude I treasure                         Is your
moves me. I live apart                                 heart
from myself, yet cannot                              not
live apart. In the water’s tone,                   stone?
that brilliant silence, a flower                    Hour,
whispers my name with such slight         light
moment, it seems filament of air,             fare
the world become cloudswell.                   well.

Automatism:

When Surrealist poets use automatism, or automatic writing, they write without controlling their conscious thoughts. In essence, they write whatever comes to mind. Breton stated that poets should not filter, edit or shape automatic writing because the words should be vivid and raw. The leader of the Surrealist movement used automatism when writing Soluble Fish:

The ground beneath my feet is nothing but an enormous unfolded newspaper. Sometimes a photograph comes by; it is a nondescript curiosity, and from the flowers there uniformly rises the smell, the good smell, of printer’s ink. I heard it said in my youth that the smell of hot bread is intolerable to sick people, but I repeat that the flowers smell of printer’s ink. …

Cut-up technique:

In the cut-up technique, a writer cuts text printed or written on paper and rearranges the words to create a new work. Latent news is a similar technique in which a writer cuts words or phrases from a newspaper article and quickly rearranges them. Many people unknowingly practice this Surrealist technique with refrigerator magnets that have words printed on them.

What is Experimental Poetry & What Does It Mean?

rae armantrout

Like language, poetry is fluid and alive. It evolves, breaks the rules and turns into something new. Just as scientists have thought experiments (Albert Einstein often did this), writers participate in experimental literature. Experimental poetry is a product of modernist and postmodernist poetry. It explores and emphasizes innovation. Individuals who write experimental poetry don’t always write with a conscious awareness of where a work fits into an aesthetic range. The words follow their own form rather than a standard, and sometimes disregard rules related to language and function.

Experimental Poetry Explained

The best way to understand experimental poetry is to see and read it. In “Advent,” Rae Armantrout writes:

In front of the craft shop,
a small nativity,
mother, baby, sheep
made of white
and blue balloons.

*

Sky

god

girl.

Pick out the one
that doesn’t belong.

*

Some thing
close to nothing

flat

from which,
fatherless,
everything has come.

An example of experimental poetry at its finest, Armantrout takes the notion of stanzaic lyrics, and dismantles and reassembles them. She turns them inside out to create productive arrangements from small groups of phrases.

Reading experimental poetry is like listening to impromptu freestyle jazz—the good kind that you only hear late at night at jazz clubs or during a musician’s private practice sessions. The words are original, daring and sometimes stunning. The forms are more organic, loose and spontaneous, as the words are a product of the subject and the poet’s feelings as she writes. The words are often the first thoughts, the best thoughts.

History of Experimental Poetry

Compared to sonnets and lyrical poems—classical forms—experimental poetry and literature is a relatively new, evolving genre. Its earliest form dates back to Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentlemen in 1759. About a century-and-a-half later, in the 1910s, artistic experimentation blew into full force. Often inspired by jazz and abstract expressionist painting, American and European writers began experimenting with poetic forms as they ushered in the modernist movement. Avant-garde movements also largely contributed to evolution of experimental poetry, including Dadaism, futurism and surrealism.

After the 1930s, experimental literature faded from public view until the 1950s and -60s, when uncensored freedom became more appreciated. This is around the same time that Charles Olson, who is associated with the Black Mountain School in North Carolina, developed his theory of projective verse,—an open form of poetry based on the spontaneity of breath pauses and typewriter lines. On the West Coast, the San Franciscan School’s nature-focused poems and anti-establishment yet patriotic beat poetry gained national recognition.

Experimental poetry that came out of the New York School demonstrated the most formal education of any group, as New York City was the birthplace of Abstract Expressionism, which largely inspired experimental poetry. One such writer includes Jean Valentine, whose lyrical poems are both personal and political as she tries to make sense of the unconscious and invisible. Valentine states that as she writes, she pays attention to the sounds of her words. If they don’t sound alive in a draft, she takes them out.

Today’s contemporary experimental writers demonstrate many of the qualities seen in works from the 1960s. Their works, however, tend to have more irony and humor. They tend to be more accessible and are sometimes more emotionally deflating. Elaine Equi is a masterful contemporary experimental poet who writes for literary and non-literary audiences. Much of her inspiration comes from her observations of others, her life and pop culture.

Experimental poetry isn’t necessarily poetry that breaks the rules. It’s poetry with its own borders and boundaries. Rather than haven an antagonistic engagement with literature, as some view it, experimental poetry has an alternative engagement with convention. There’s nothing wrong with a little experimentation. Grab a pen and see what words flow from your fingers.