Multi-author collaborations are relatively rare in modern poetry culture — one of the significant ways in which videopoetry and filmpoetry deviate from established norms. With poetry films, collaboration is if anything more common than one-person productions. And this collaborative angle is nowhere more evident than in the new website for the Wild Whispers Poetry Film Project (whose call-out we shared here two years ago). The result feels like the audiovisual equivalent of renga-meets-exquisite corpse.
Wild Whispers is an international film poetry project that started with one poem and led to 15 versions in 12 languages and 12 poetry films.
The films, in different languages, were all ‘whispered’ from the previous one. The project travelled from England to India, Australia, Taiwan, France, South Africa, the Netherlands, Sweden, Wales and the USA, creating poetry films in English, Malayalam, Chinese, French, Afrikaans, Dutch, American Sign Language, Navajo, Spanish, and Welsh.
[…] My own desire to connect was both personal and political and certainly focused on the bigger picture. I am most passionate about film poetry, and consider it to be the perfect vehicle for exciting collaborations and for fostering strong, positive connections between countries and across the world.
One of the initial inspirations behind the Wild Whispers project was a single image of a Buryat Shaman performing a libation – a ritual pouring of liquid, milk or grains, as an offering to the gods or spirits in memory of the dead. When I discovered this image I was also in the process of writing a vision statement for Elephant’s Footprint and came across an article by visual artist Mary Russell and author Gerard Wozek, the collaborative duo of “Mercury in Motion”. I found we shared a belief that visual and literary art carry spiritual, political, and sociological messages and that visual poetry is a physical manifestation of what it means to be a human being engaged in seeking community, and that the medium of film poetry is intrinsically alchemic—magic.
The call-out to poets, translators and poetry filmmakers to be involved in Wild Whispers has resulted in just that: magic.