Monday, November 2, 2015

Monday Muse: 'Poetry of Witness'

Film Poster
Artwork by Jimmy Buitrago

Watch for the 60-minute color documentary Poetry of Witness (Icon Independent Films, 2015), written,  directed, and produced by Anthony Cirilo and Billy Tooma. The film had its world premiere on October 16, 2015, at the Buffalo International Film Festival. It brings together the contemporary poets and scholars Carolyn Forche, Saghi Ghahraman, Fady JoudahNeil J. KresselClaudia Serea, Mario SuskoBruce Weigl, and Duncan Wu, each of whom discusses poetry as the means "to preserve the memories of war, torture, exile, and repression."

The documentary was filmed in Hempstead, Long Island; McLean, Virginia; Oberlin, Ohio; North Arlington, New Jersey; Rutherford, New Jersey; New York City; and Toronto, Canada.

The next screening of the film is November 10 at KGB Bar in New York City. It is expected to be released to U.S. theaters in the fall of 2017.

Noteworthy Resources

Carolyn Forche and Duncan Wu (Editors), Poetry of Witness: The Tradition in English, 1500-2001 (W.W. Norton, 2014)

Carolyn Forche (Editor), Against Forgetting (W.W. Norton, 1993)

Carolyn Forche, The Country Between Us (Harper Perennial, 1982)

Sandra Beasley, "Flint and Tinder — Understanding the Difference Between 'Poetry of Witness' and 'Documentary Poetics'", Poetry Northwest, Summer and Fall 2015

"Remembering Forward: History Reclaimed Through Poetry", The Ploughshares Blog, May 10, 2015

Robyn Creswell, "Poetry in Extremis", The New Yorker, February 12, 2014

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Film Poster

Another, earlier documentary, the 40-minute award-winning Poetry of Resilience, written, directed, and co-produced by Katja Esson, is a very personal film that presents six poets who offer their own stories of having lived through one of six horrific events: the Kurdish Genocide in Iraq, the Holocaust, Hiroshima, the Cultural Revolution in China, the Rwandan Genocide, or the Iranian Revolution.  Read my September 5, 2011, post about this film.

Poetry of Resilience on FaceBook

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