Call for Contributions to Poetryfilm Magazine on Sound and Voice-over in Poetry Film

Poetryfilm Magazine, the multilingual, digital and print publication from Poetryfilmkanal, has just issued a call for essay contributions to its next issue, which has the theme “Ton und Voice-over im Poetryfilm” (Sound and Voice-over in Poetry film). I’ll reproduce the English-language version below. There’s also a version in German.

Dear reader,

a film poem might be seen as a visual illustration of a metaphoric text. Beyond that, the sound is a fundamentally important element. Music, voice and sound design have to be considered as essential aspects that add to the whole of the audiovisual experience of a poetry film.

Particularly the recitation is of central importance. No matter if visuals and sound were adapted to the poet’s recital of his text or if the visual part was created prior to the voice-over, the poetry film genre has always been an important experimentation field. More than in dialogue-based fiction films, single words play a key role.

The voice itself is not a neutral media. It intensifies and interprets the poem. Maybe it comments, parodies or even attacks it instead of bringing it into its service. Moreover, it has to adapt or to be adapted to the complex rhythm of the moving imagery, the edit, the foley, the sound and the music. This can happen in various ways. When the relation between the visual and the sound level is redundant, it might be perceived as a disturbance. Complementing one another, the two might create a third level which can add an additional meaning, an audiovisual surplus (Michel Chion) to the text.

Sounds, tones and noises have an impact on the emotional value of a film and guide our visual perception. What we see depends on what we hear. Even what we don’t hear can gain a presence through the sound. As poetry films live from their mood and their atmosphere, they rely fundamentally on the sound design’s qualities.

In her contribution to the first Poetryfilm Magazine’s edition Stefanie Orphal states that the fascination of the poetry film genre can be pointed out particularly well through the consideration of the sound. This is why a charismatic voice and an experienced sound designer should be engaged in the production process wherever possible.

When the music dominates and the beat remains a minor element, the poetry film draws near the genre of the music video. Music videos and video installations can be seen as poetry films, whereas songs and tunes can be interpreted as poetry. Various transitions and crossover forms can be found in this field regarding the visual language, the way of singing or reciting as well as in the complexity of the texts.

Call for Essays

We are looking for submissions for our Poetryfilm Magazine’s second edition, which will focus on aspects of sound and voice-over in poetry film. We are interested to initiate an interdisciplinary exchange of views on and experiences about recitation, music, noise, sound and artistic sound design in poetry film. Essays can be based on a historical research, a film analysis or a theoretical reflection – important to us is the practical approach, through which the filmmakers as well as the audience can gain a better understanding of the genre.

The contributions in the magazine’s first edition »Fascination Poetryfilm?« were held short on purpose, as we wanted to give as many authors as possible a chance to raise their voice. From now on, we are planning to publish longer texts of up to 10.000 signs (without footnotes wherever possible). We are hoping for submissions which lead us to open discussions and unexpected perspectives onto the topic. The second edition of the magazine will be published in time for this year’s ZEBRA-Festival, which for the first time will take place in Münster.


Aline Helmcke, Guido Naschert

For those who may not have read it yet, the inaugural issue of the magazine is available as a PDF.

Dave Bonta

Dave is the founder of Moving Poems, and posts videos for his own poems (along with lots of other stuff) at Via Negativa. Here’s a bio.

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