Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Tag: haiku (page 1 of 8)

all roads lead here & Notes on Adapting Poetry

 

Lately, I’ve gotten back into making videos. This is my fourth in the past month. This one is from a sequence of three related haiku from Highway Sky called “all roads lead here,” a series of LA-related poems.

Since the “poem” is sort of three poems, I wanted the video to have three parts, and I choose footage that I felt would complement the parts, which in essence tell a story of driving to LA in the middle of the night with the intention of watching the sun set on the beach. If you travel to LA from Texas, you’ll probably come in on I-10 which turns into the Santa Monica Freeway and kind of ends at the Santa Monica Pier. So I wanted footage that followed that trajectory. The footage came from Videvo.net, and I was fortunate to find the LA shot and the Santa Monica beach shots with the others shot who-knows-where.

Things got interesting as I was editing. The more I looked at it, I realized I could cut a line from the first haiku which originally read (as published at tinywords):

a hundred miles out
the glow of Los Angeles
desert starlight

The second line seemed redundant with the footage of the LA skyline and city lights. Likewise, I was able to cut the first line from the third haiku as the sunset-over-the-waves image did the work of the first line.

the sun falls to sea
here at the end of the road
nothing left to say

The central haiku was left alone, but I played with the text to try to put it in motion and show the action of the waves erasing the name.

For the sound, I originally imagined some reverb-soaked surf music. I tried something on my guitar and looked for CC music online, but didn’t find anything. On a lark, I tried some wave sounds and liked how it sounded like highway noise while the cars were on screen, but sounded like waves once the beach shot comes in. Interesting how the image can affect what we think we’re hearing.

I liked this process of adaptation. When movies are adapted from books and stories, filmmakers change things. They fire characters and compress scenes in part to save money on paying actors and renting space, but also because there is often no need to say what is shown. Why not something similar with poetry?

I think writers and probably poets especially can get locked into the sanctity of their words and lord knows there are times when that makes sense, but if poetry is to be a conversation even if as in this case with oneself, I think it’s important to let go a little bit especially when changing mediums. My academic background is in film production and screenwriting where the expectation is that the written word is not final so maybe this comes easier for me, but it’s a comfortable way for me to work and I think it’s useful to see where your words can go and a worthwhile exercise to keep playing with what you’ve made and, if you dare, open it up for others to do so as well.

even in Austin
longing for Austin
the grackle

–after Bashō (tr: Jane Reichhold)

slow school day
circles of green moss
on concrete

memorial bench
over a decade old now
weeds between the stones

spring red bud
an open hand
catching sky

two vultures
fly toward the sunrise
almost spring

2.1.17

flash of black / bird's wings or daydream / whispered truth

1.30.17

streaks of sunlight/like dragonflies in the reeds/spring in midwinter

autumn afternoon
acorns tap free rhythms
on a gray Prius

the sky wrapped
all the trees in rain
thunder days

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