The German website Poetryfilmkanal has been sticking to its schedule of monthly featured poetry films and weekly short essays. Much of the content is in German, of course, including a recent essay by ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival organizer Thomas Zandegiacomo Del Bel, “Poesiefilme, Festivals und soziale Netzwerke,” but Google Translate gives the gist of it.
Fortunately for us monolingual types, the latest essay, by Egyptian filmmaker Nissmah Roshdy—”Poetry Films: A Genre Alien To A Poetry Nation“—is in English. Roshdy brings a unique perspective on a uniquely poetry-drenched culture:
For some reason, Arabic Poetry, which is only the most significant form of art produced by the Arab world and considered one of the most visually rich and sophisticated breeds of poetry, had never officially taken part in the conversation of poetry films worldwide in a noteworthy manner. It sounded crazy to me, but I figured that it’s not surprising if you actually consider how many Arabs today appreciate or even understand their own poetry. But regardless of that, the main problem I saw was because of how poets and visual artists in the Arab world have no interest in collaborating with one another. The issue, as I see it, is from the literary experts side. For many writers, the argument usually made is that the beauty of poetry must be in the words only and how they manifest themselves visually in the imagination of each reader. However, this notion should not be threatened by the discourse of poetry films, because a poetry film is essentially a manifestation of the imagination exercise we go through while reading a poem. The defining line here is in accepting a Poetry film as an example of a visual representation of a poem as seen by one person.