Film Poster by Jason Gardinier
American poet and essayist Diane Wakoski is the subject and sole narrator of Emerald Ice, a "docufantasy" about the poetic imagination. What is unusual — and also fascinating — about Emerald Ice is that in lieu of the biographical interviews that typically appear in nonfiction treatments of a well-known person's life, only excerpts from Wakoski's poetry are used to establish her biography. Wakoski herself maintains that her published poems contain all the important information about her that anyone needs to know.
In her Artist Statement*, Jesseca Ynez Simmons, the experimental film's director, editor, and cinematographer, remarks on her deep interest in "evok[ing] poetic truths which subvert and challenge the complacency of treating nonfiction as unarguable fact." "The most important underlying aspect to my nonfiction work," Simmons says, "is that truth is not bound to facticity." By allowing "the explicit factual and the fantasy [to] graze on the same plane," she believes, "it is possible to gain something more than if they were treated separately. The reality of the outside world and the reality of our interior spaces are equally true, even if one cannot be readily seen."
Expected to be available in 2017, the film, which takes its name from Wakoski's collection Emerald Ice: Selected Poems 1962-1987 (Black Sparrow Press, 1988; paper, 2005), was co-produced by Simmons and Justin Reifert within their MFA documentary media program at Northwestern University. It served as Simmons's thesis film.
A preview screening of the 16-minute Emerald Ice took place as part of the MFA Doc Media Showcase this past June at Block Cinema at Block at Museum of Art, Evanston, Illinois. Earlier this year, Simmons conducted a successful Kickstarter Campaign to raise funds for festival applications, marketing materials, community outreach, and professional sound mixing.
Below is a teaser for Simmons's "cinematic odyssey", which the film's Website describes as ""tak[ing] the viewer on a journey that explores Diane Wakoski's fearless meditation on intimacy and mortality in hopes of gaining a glimpse of the different worlds inside her. . . ."
Emerald Ice: a docufantasy about the poet Diane Wakoski (Teaser) from Jesseca Ynez Simmons on Vimeo.
* See the Emerald Ice Press Kit. (Also included there are a number of production stills.)
Emerald Ice on FaceBook
Freelance graphic designer Jason Gardinier, Santa Cruz, California, has created a series of posters for the film, including the image that appears at the top of this post.
Diane Wakoski on FaceBook
Selected Diane Wakoski Profiles Online: Academy of American Poets, Anhinga Press, David R. Godine, Poetry Foundation, Poetry Society of America