Mortal Ghazal: the videopoem

Via Negativa is proud to present a new videopoem by the Belgian artist and filmmaker Marc Neys, A.K.A. Swoon, and Luisa A. Igloria, with a text from Luisa’s new poetry collection, The Saints of Streets. Like many of the poems in the book, it debuted here at Via Negativa, with a prompt from an entry at The Morning Porch (July 12, 2012).

Marc and Luisa discuss their collaboration in a new post at Marc’s blog. Marc notes that,

Along with her recording, Luisa gave me some ideas and pointers where to look for possible images. One of the videos she proposed was http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90qcjBE-jlA. The film is part of a collection of motion picture films that John Van Antwerp MacMurray shot during the time he served as American Minister to China (1925-1929). The 16mm silent movie was shot during a trip to the Philippines in October 1926, where MacMurray and his wife spent a few days at Camp John Hay, Baguio.

For her part, Luisa writes:

After getting more directly connected with Marc, I recorded three short poems from the collection that I thought might be good candidates. Marc selected “Mortal Ghazal” and I’m really happy that he did.

The poem’s recurrent rhyme is the word “everlasting” – it had started out as a meditation of sorts on a flower indigenous to Baguio, the mountain city where I grew up in the Philippines. The locals refer to them as “everlasting” flowers, but they are strawflowers or Helichrysum bracteatum (family Asteraceae). Locals wind them into leis and sell them to tourists. One of my dearest friends from childhood recently returned from a trip to Baguio, and brought a lei back for me.

Around ten years ago, this friend lost her only son, who grew up with my daughters in Baguio; and she has never really recovered from that grief; she has also just had surgery, and thinking about her and about our lives in that small mountain city so long ago, before we became what we are now, led me to writing this poem which is also a meditation on time/temporality, passage, absence and presence.

Click through to Marc’s blog to read the rest of their remarks.

Luisa just passed her 1000th day of writing a poem a day here (not to mention some additional poems that she’s also managed to write in her far-from-abundant free time). Many of the poems in The Saints of Streets have appeared in more prestigious organs too, of course, but I am proud of, and humbled by, the role that The Morning Porch and Via Negativa have played in eliciting this extraordinary creative outpouring from one of our (and the Philippines’) most talented and hardest working contemporary poets. I haven’t received my copy of The Saints of Streets yet, but here’s how poet Kristin Naca describes it:

Luisa Igloria’s The Saints of Streets overlays the landscapes we see with many more vanished. Houses, town halls, and cathedrals are held up by spires of memory; the past erupts and spills over when the poet focuses on particulars, “…nose pressed to the doorway between worlds/ lit by the same fire that singes the wings of bees.” Igloria begins, as we often do, with a yearning: followed by question, meditation—but the power of her gaze sets these poems apart. Observation magnetizes worlds into radical juxtaposition, and in these poems, measured, intuitive music splendidly unleashes the bewildering in the everyday.

Please visit the Books page on Luisa’s website for additional quotes and information on ordering.

4 Comments


  1. Dave, thank you for the gift of space, for glimpses of botanicals, of winged and other creatures, for the numerous paths and rabbit holes I’ve had the joy of exploring through MP and VN; thanks too for the new friendships and the beautiful sense of community that you have created through your sites. I feel blessed to be part of these creative collaborations!

    Reply

    1. It’s been my genuine pleasure. Thanks for not being afraid to share so much on the web. You’re setting a great example for your writer colleagues.

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  2. I just listened to this poem Luisa very beautiful ….

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