Academic publisher De Gruyter has just published a 310-page monograph titled Poesiefilm: Lyrik im audiovisuellen Medium [Poetry Film: Poetry in the Audiovisual Medium] by German literary scholar Stefanie Orphal. It’s probably a good thing I don’t know German, because if I did, I’d be feeling pretty frustrated by the astronomical price tag: US$126.00 for either the hardcover or the eBook — or $196.00 for both together! But perhaps one could talk one’s local university library into buying a copy. The publisher’s description is certainly enticing:
Unlike film presentations of narrative or dramatic literature, the audiovisual depiction of poetry has received little attention from researchers. This volume traces the history of the poetry film genre and subjects it to systematic examination. It thereby fills a gap in research on the relations between films and literature but also develops key categories for understanding ways of dealing with poetry in the audiovisual medium.
Stefanie Orphal was born 1982 in Halle (Saale). From 2002 to 2008 she studied literature, media studies, and business studies at the University of Potsdam and Université Paris XII. She completed her Magister Artium (Master of Arts) in 2008 with a thesis on Stimme und Bild im Poetryfilm (Voice and Image in Poetryfilm) in which she analysed the connection and interference of voice and image in short films based on poems. Her research interests include the relation of literature and other media, literary adaptation, and 20th century poetry. From 2009 to 2012 she has been a doctoral candidate at the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary studies, where she finished her dissertation “Poetry Film”: On the History, Poetics and Practice of an Intermedial Genre.
In her dissertation project on “poetry film’, she examines the emergence of poetry in film and the poetic dimension of film as an art form. The “tradition of the cinema as poetry”, as Susan Sontag calls it, appears particularly in the avant-garde films of the 1920s and in experimental cinema. At the same time, poetry itself has strived for connections with other media or for recognition as a performance art throughout the 20th century. Futurism, Dada, Beat Poetry, Spoken Word, and Konkrete Poesie feature prominent examples. Unlike literary adaptations, most poetryfilms do not present a ‘translation’ of literary text into filmic text, but keep the poetry present in vocal performance or writing. Her analysis of various poetryfilms therefore concentrates on rhythmic features of film and verse, the sound of voices and spoken language, iconic qualities of writing, and the interplay of poetic and filmic imagery.