Dave Bonta

This entry is part 12 of 12 in the series The Temptations of Solitude

Watch on Vimeo.

The other videopoem that my friend Marc Neys AKA Swoon surprised me with at my birthday party (see yesterday’s post) was this interpretation of a poem I’d written in response to a painting by Clive Hicks-Jenkins, one of a series of ekphrastic poems I wrote in response to his series of paintings The Temptations of Solitude. (These poems were later collected along with the work of five other poets in a beautiful little anthology called The Book of Ystwyth: Six Poets on the Art of Clive Hicks-Jenkins, and you can watch the videos of our group reading at the 2011 book launch.)

I made my own videopoem with this text back in 2012, and while I wouldn’t call it a failure, I do think it rather pales in comparison to Marc’s. Nevertheless, it’s fascinating how the creative spark originally struck by Clive continues to give rise to new works of art. As Clive himself commented when I shared the video on Facebook last month: “I love the way art begets art begets art begets art. This is hauntingly beautiful.”

Sadly, this is among the last videopoems that Marc plans to make for a while. He told me he’s taking a year off from filmmaking to concentrate on other things—especially his music. Here’s hoping that when he does go back to making poetry films, it will be with new energy and fresh perspectives on the genre. His influence over the international videopoem and poetry film scene so far has been enormous.

For what it’s worth, I’ve added this and the videos I shared yesterday to the Plummer’s Hollow Poet channel on Vimeo, which is probably the best place to browse videos made with my own poems (since I don’t share those at my site Moving Poems).

Up by five o’clock as I have long done and to my office all the morning, at noon home to dinner with my father with us. Our dinner, it being Good Friday, was only sugarsopps and fish; the only time that we have had a Lenten dinner all this Lent.
This morning Mr. Hunt, the instrument maker, brought me home a Basse Viall to see whether I like it, which I do not very well, besides I am under a doubt whether I had best buy one yet or no, because of spoiling my present mind and love to business.
After dinner my father and I walked into the city a little, and parted and to Paul’s Church Yard, to cause the title of my English “Mare Clausum” to be changed, and the new title, dedicated to the King, to be put to it, because I am ashamed to have the other seen dedicated to the Commonwealth.
So home and to my office till night, and so home to talk with my father, and supper and to bed, I have not had yet one quarter of an hour’s leisure to sit down and talk with him since he came to town, nor do I know till the holidays when I shall.

done with our only sugar
and only me

we hunt a home like the best spoil
walk into the city to be changed

I am ashamed to have seen
a common town

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 17 April 1663.

This entry is part 29 of 29 in the series Conversari

Back in 2011 and 2012, Rachel Rawlins and I had a public dialogue in poems and photos between this blog and hers. Usually I would write a poem, and she would respond with a photo that commented on the text in some way. We called it Conversari. Recently two new videopoems have extended this exercise in ekphrastic call-and-response.

Back on February 27, the Saturday after my 50th birthday, Rachel and a bunch of other friends surprised me with a videopoetry-themed party in the upstairs room of a nearby pub in London. Our friends Marc Neys and Katrijn Clemer came over from Belgium for the weekend, and Marc—AKA Swoon—acted as VJ at the party with a whole program of videopoems by different masters of the art, including two new ones of his own using texts I’d written. One of them adapted the poem “Hit the Lights” from the Conversari series, with a voiceover contributed by Rachel, which significantly changed how I heard the poem. (I didn’t even recognize it as my own at first, which is always a pleasure.) Marc incorporated some great footage of brown bears, a choice which gains in significance as the film proceeds. It was a terrific videopoem all around, I thought:

Watch on Vimeo.

On my birthday itself, we had gone to the old resort town of Southwold on the East Anglian coast, and were blessed with unseasonably warm and mild weather. We stayed in a grand old hotel associated with Adnams brewery, one of my favorite British brewers. I’ve shared some of my still photos from that trip, but I also shot some video footage, including a couple of great, unscripted moments from Rachel, one in our hotel room and one on the beach. The other day I finally thought of a way to use it, tweaking another poem from the Conversari series (mainly adding a couple of lines to make a better fit with the imagery). Here’s the result:

Watch on Vimeo.

Up betimes and to my office, met to pass Mr. Pitt’s (anon Sir J. Lawson’s Secretary and Deputy Treasurer) accounts for the voyage last to the Streights, wherein the demands are strangely irregular, and I dare not oppose it alone for making an enemy and do no good, but only bring a review upon my Lord Sandwich, but God knows it troubles my heart to see it, and to see the Comptroller, whose duty it is, to make no more matter of it. At noon home for an hour to dinner, and so to the office public and private till late at night, so home to supper and bed with my father.

where the demands are strange
are for making an enemy

do I know my heart whose duty
is to make more at the public supper

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 16 April 1663.

Up betimes, and after talking with my father awhile, I to my office, and there hard at it till almost noon, and then went down the river with Maynes, the purveyor, to show a ship’s lading of Norway goods, and called at Sir W. Warren’s yard, and so home to dinner.
After dinner up with my wife and Ashwell a little to the Tryangle, and so I down to Deptford by land about looking out a couple of catches fitted to be speedily set forth in answer to a letter of Mr. Coventry’s to me. Which done, I walked back again, all the way reading of my book of Timber measure, comparing it with my new Sliding Rule brought home this morning with great pleasure.
Taking boat again I went to Shishe’s yard, but he being newly gone out towards Deptford I followed him thither again, and there seeing him I went with him and pitched upon a couple, and so by water home, it being late, past 8 at night, the wind cold, and I a little weary. So home to my office, then to supper and bed.

on a river in Norway
well lit
the land looking back

Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 15 April 1663.

Up betimes to my office, where busy till 8 o’clock that Sir W. Batten, Sir J. Minnes, Sir W. Pen and I down by barge to Woolwich, to see “The Royal James” launched, where she has been under repair a great while. We staid in the yard till almost noon, and then to Mr. Falconer’s to a dinner of fish of our own sending, and when it was just ready to come upon the table, word is brought that the King and Duke are come, so they all went away to shew themselves, while I staid and had a little dish or two by myself, resolving to go home, and by the time I had dined they came again, having gone to little purpose, the King, I believe, taking little notice of them. So they to dinner, and I staid a little with them, and so good bye. I walked to Greenwich, studying the slide rule for measuring of timber, which is very fine. Thence to Deptford by water, and walked through the yard, and so walked to Redriffe, and so home pretty weary, to my office, where anon they all came home, the ship well launched, and so sat at the office till 9 at night, and I longer doing business at my office, and so home to supper, my father being come, and to bed.
Sir G. Carteret tells me to-night that he perceives the Parliament is likely to make a great bustle before they will give the King any money; will call all things into question; and, above all, the expences of the Navy; and do enquire into the King’s expences everywhere, and into the truth of the report of people being forced to sell their bills at 15 per cent. loss in the Navy; and, lastly, that they are in a very angry pettish mood at present, and not likely to be better.

she has fish on the table
and little time to little purpose

taking little notice
of the little green yard

and the night like any money
will call things into question

and everywhere the people
being forced to sell their ills

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 14 April 1663.

Up by five o’clock and to my office, where hard at work till towards noon, and home and eat a bit, and so going out met with Mr. Mount my old acquaintance, and took him in and drank a glass or two of wine to him and so parted, having not time to talk together, and I with Sir W. Batten to the Stillyard, and there eat a lobster together, and Wyse the King’s fishmonger coming in we were very merry half an hour, and so by water to Whitehall, and by and by being all met we went in to the Duke and there did our business and so away, and anon to the Tangier Committee, where we had very fine discourse from Dr. Walker and Wiseman, civilians, against our erecting a court-merchant at Tangier, and well answered in many things by my Lord Sandwich (whose speaking I never till now observed so much to be very good) and Sir R. Ford.
By and by the discourse being ended, we fell to my Lord Rutherford’s dispatch, which do not please him, he being a Scott, and one resolved to scrape every penny that he can get by any way, which the Committee will not agree to. He took offence at something and rose away, without taking leave of the board, which all took ill, though nothing said but only by the Duke of Albemarle, who said that we ought to settle things as they ought to be, and if he will not go upon these terms another man will, no doubt. Here late, quite finishing things against his going, and so rose, and I walked home, being accompanied by Creed to Temple Bar, talking of this afternoon’s passage, and so I called at the Wardrobe in my way home, and there spoke at the Horn tavern with Mr. Moore a word or two, but my business was with Mr. Townsend, who is gone this day to his country house, about sparing Charles Pepys some money of his bills due to him when he can, but missing him lost my labour.
So walked home, finding my wife abroad, at my aunt, Wight’s, who coming home by and by, I home to supper and to bed.

my old acquaintance wine
is a wise answer to every offense

it ought to settle things
as they ought to be

and not another word
about sparing my wife

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 13 April 1663.

(Lord’s day). Lay till 8 o’clock, which I have not done a great while, then up and to church, where I found our pew altered by taking some of the hind pew to make ours bigger, because of the number of women, more by Sir J. Minnes company than we used to have.
Home to dinner, and after dinner, intending to go to Chelsey to my Lord Sandwich, my wife would needs go with me, though she walked on foot to Whitehall. Which she did and staid at my Lord’s lodgings while Creed and I took a turn at Whitehall, but no coach to be had, and so I returned to them and sat talking till evening, and then got a coach and to Gray’s Inn walks, where some handsome faces, and so home and there to supper, and a little after 8 o’clock to bed, a thing I have not done God knows when.
Coming home to-night, a drunken boy was carrying by our constable to our new pair of stocks to handsel them, being a new pair and very handsome.

a clock with no face
after 8 o’clock I have no when

a drunken pair tocks
hand in hand

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 12 April 1663.

Up betimes and to my office, where we sat also all the morning till noon, and then home to dinner, my father being there but not very well. After dinner in comes Captain Lambert of the Norwich, this day come from Tangier, whom I am glad to see. There came also with him Captain Wager, and afterwards in came Captain Allen to see me, of the Resolution. All staid a pretty while, and so away, and I a while to my office, then abroad into the street with my father, and left him to go to see my aunt Wight and uncle, intending to lie at Tom’s to-night, or my cozen Scott’s, where it seems he has hitherto lain and is most kindly used there. So I home and to my office very late making up my Lord’s navy accounts, wherein I find him to stand debtor 1200l.. So home to supper and to bed.

we sat till noon
but not very well

no apt wager came
the solution stayed way off

in my Zen
here is where I stand

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 11 April 1663.

Up very betimes and to my office, where most hard at business alone all the morning. At noon to the Exchange, where I hear that after great expectation from Ireland, and long stop of letters, there is good news come, that all is quiett after our great noise of troubles there, though some stir hath been as was reported.
Off the Exchange with Sir J. Cutler and Mr. Grant to the Royall Oak Tavern, in Lumbard Street, where Alexander Broome the poet was, a merry and witty man, I believe, if he be not a little conceited, and here drank a sort of French wine, called Ho Bryan, that hath a good and most particular taste that I never met with.
Home to dinner, and then by water abroad to Whitehall, my wife to see Mrs. Ferrers, I to Whitehall and the Park, doing no business. Then to my Lord’s lodgings, met my wife, and walked to the New Exchange. There laid out 10s. upon pendents and painted leather gloves, very pretty and all the mode. So by coach home and to my office till late, and so to supper and to bed.

all change is news
a quiet stir to the oak

and the poet
if not conceited

and particular as water
in her loves

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 10 April 1663.