Martina Pfeiler is a German scholar of literature and American studies specializing in, among other things, the history of poetry and technology. She’s the author of the book Poetry Goes Intermedia: US-amerikanische Lyrik des 20. und 21. Jahrhunderts aus kultur- und medienwissenschaftlicher Perspektive. We spoke in the garden of the Pfefferbett Hostel in Berlin on October 19, 2014, during the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival.
Reference is made to the following films:
- Manhatta by Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler (1920)
- Do serca Twego / To Thy Heart by Ewa Borysewicz (2013) (the “Polish poetry film” Dr. Pfeiler discussed starting at 7:27)
- Ballad of the Skeletons by Gus Van Sant and Allen Ginsberg (1997)
- The Death of William Burroughs by Antonello Faretta with John Giorno (2005)
The conversation was wide-ranging (and I’ve edited out more than half of it—please excuse all the jump cuts), covering such topics as how poetry film fits into the larger context of poets’ use of technology, how poetry films may be used in the classroom to introduce students to poetry as a whole, and how the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival has changed (or not changed) over the years. My favorite thing that Dr. Pfeiler said was this:
I could see myself going to something like an international poetry museum, where you have different rooms where you can explore a poetry film, or poetry films, either theme-based or throughout the last century, and interact with it again—just me and the film. So that experience: like an installation, where you take time, you sit in your little installation box, it’s all black, maybe some other, four or five people are sitting on the floor but you don’t necessarily know where they sit.
Yes! I love watching videos in art museums. Someone needs to do this. Surely there’s a billionaire out there looking to put his or her name on a new, unique museum?