Why I Meld Film To Poetry
My current project of the last year, and counting, concerns the making of short films by combining poetry I have written over the years with the images I gather from my environment. My third film in this series, The Tools of Migrant Hunters , is nearing completion and I feel now is the time to begin putting some of my recent insights and motivations down on paper as a way to figure out for myself what else I may be doing here that is beyond my limited understanding of the human consciousness. In my poetry I have always attempted to speak from the unconscious to the unconscious, which is no small task, and is what helps me to believe that what I do is important and must continue to be done no matter the lack of monetary gain endeavors of these sorts of activity result in. I am not a caretaker, I have no desire to volunteer at a soup kitchen or help rebuild a community after a monumental catastrophe. My art is my contribution to the human race. It is an honor, and is no supreme sacrifice on my part to suit up and show up every day in the commerce of it. I do it for no pay. But make no mistake, I am entirely serious about my work. This is not recreation.
Every morning without fail I study before I speak. Upon waking around four in the morning I spend at least an hour reading contemporary philosophy followed by eight pages of verse written by poets I respect and appreciate. The first words that come from me in the morning go onto a blank page. A yellow legal pad provides the canvas for my scribbling. Rarely do I question where my poems come from or their meaning. It is here, on the page, where I make my stand and where I choose to remark over something that may have occurred to me during my study and morning coffee. My wife will soon get up and out of bed and that is when the real conversation begins.
I carry my camera as we live out our lives. I take photographs of our environment. When there is an event worth recording in total I use my video machine. I write poems about how I feel on a given day, what my mind is thinking of, or what is making demands on my heart and refusing to be denied. I have painted and used discarded images as a base for collage. I paste our life on to the canvas. Many times I find nude photos I have taken of my wife. My poems are covered with them, as well as the fears and fantasies associated with free will we all have and sometimes act on. She owns full shares of every fantasy I've had. My wife is the prime subject concerning my need to be delivered from my emotional prison as a body infant. The suckling sounds you hear from me are my release into, not out of, her servitude as my personal whore, and the profanations given in the development of our relationship. And I search for ways to express my love for her and to show her the deepest respect and gratification I have for her in allowing me to continually fail at my enterprise. All of the creative work we do truly belongs together, and must be the ultimate collage I have intuitively always been looking for. It is the main reason I am now making short films.
Another important reason for producing short films is a way to get my poetry in front of the most people. I discovered more than fifteen years ago that visual art is more acceptable and agreeable as an art form to present to the masses. It is far too demanding of most people to read a poem and derive pleasure from the experience. Only the serious reader can do this, and I have found that the serious reader must also subscribe to the importance of art and its affect on the body. Readers of fine poetry are rare, and it has been my hope to possibly reach another reader who can be trained to see the value in my poetry by first being tricked into being subjected to it through my films. It is no secret about what I am up to as I clearly present my position in every synopsis of each film I make. The following is a list of my films in the order in which they have been made:
1. Gnoman's Bois de Rose
Director Statement: Gnoman's Bois de Rose is a collage of three narratives using film and the spoken word as voice-over follows a horse-riding exhibition and its criticism as well as lyricism in the contemporary work of the poet M Sarki. The three narratives are all connected and it is up to the viewers to discern what the film means to them each personally.
Production Notes: "The Cripple and His Camera"
I filmed the sequences of Gnoman's Bois de Rose while recovering at my cabin in northern Michigan after a nasty fall from my roof in which my right knee was shattered and both bones below it were broken in six places. I also dislocated my left shoulder and tore up my arm, so this fellow stumbling around with a movie camera and tripod sporting a cane and slowly making his way among the horses and crowds was in a way quite pitiful.
This new short film by M Sarki, Gnoman's Bois de Rose , is the first in what is hoped to be a long series of films to be produced by Mewl House Productions using the poetry of M Sarki as one segment of a creative collage incorporating other media including film, stills, music, and audio taken from the actual life he is living. It is difficult to label what it is that Sarki is attempting here, but let us say simply that these works fit into the scope of short narrative, albeit there is always more than one narrative happening in the course of each film. It is the responsibility of the viewer to discern what each film means to him or to her, but surely the feeling of being involved in something original shall be felt and thought about for what is hoped a long and serious time to come.
Gnoman's Bois de Rose is a short narrative film less than twenty minutes in length. There are, in a sense, three narratives happening in the course of events on the screen. First, the young horse riders are preparing their mounts for an upcoming competition in barrel riding. They have been given an arena in which to practice and compete, complete with an announcer who offers color commentary as well as criticism and praise to the riders, one of which she may or may not be related to. Second, there is witness to this in the form of a voice-over given by a woman wise in her years and experience and her own personal view of the world. The voice-overs are made by an old cowgirl played by the gifted Cissy Jones who offers her own personal and creative take on the poems used by M Sarki for this script. The poems are encouraged to be taken as commentary on the life this cowgirl leads, her history, perhaps a future imagined, and obviously what she sees happening before her on the other side of the fence. And finally at the position which seems likely to be the end of the film there is a short segment that follows that is connected to both of the prior segments, and even though the screen says 'The End', it obviously does not mean it.
2. Biscuits and Striola
Biscuits and Striola is one in a series of films demonstrating the lyricism and images found in the contemporary work of the poet M Sarki. Avant-garde in its presentation, novel in its approach, this film, as well as others in this series, experiments in the use of mixed media to further the artist's work which is hoped to be, as Gordon Lish proclaims in one of the forewords to Sarki's books, "unexampled in its feeling".
It was a pleasure to work with the gifted voice actor Natalie Roers who brought a deep foreboding and mystery to the film with her reading of my poems. Beverly Lane was again a great partner in the production of the film, the editing, and participation in the movements necessary to bring the production together, especially depending on her gift of style.
Production Notes: "The Cripple and His Camera"
I filmed the opening sequences of Biscuits and Striola at home in Louisville while recovering after a nasty Easter morning fall from my cabin roof in Michigan in which my right knee was shattered and both bones below it were broken in six places. I filmed the rest of the footage on my way back up to my cabin, and its surroundings, for my long summer of physical therapy. I also dislocated my left shoulder and tore up my arm in the fall, so this fellow stumbling around with a movie camera and tripod sporting a cane and slowly making his way through the forest and down five hundred steps was in a way quite pitiful.
Biscuits and Striola is a thoughtful, albeit sad, film based on a mystery of sorts regarding an old love relationship damaged by an accident undefined but structured into the narration by a sensuously dark voice-over of poems written by M Sarki that relate heavily to the visual action on the screen. A mesmerizing feast for the senses in black and white. Some nudity done tastefully and with classic form. A beautiful film even in light of its serious nature. Truly an art film, and avant-garde in its presentation. Featuring the gifted voice of Natalie Roers.
3. The Tools of Migrant Hunters
The Tools of Migrant Hunters came about because of living downtown in Louisville, Kentucky. The rebuilding of downtown and the marketing of it as a great place to live, work, and play was thought by me first, and then my wife, as a good challenge for us after many years in the suburbs. We wanted to be pioneers in the new revitalization and population expansion of what has been termed a great city. Well, it isn't there yet, the great part. Yes, there have been millions of dollars poured into the downtown to build an arena, entertainment centers, hotels, restaurants, and bars, but little has been done to advance the population of the middle class. The residents of downtown Louisville are either rich or poor, and little in between. It is not a pleasant place to live. Not yet anyway, and this film is a representation of what it can be like as well as incorporating the fantasies of what could be. As it is now downtown Louisville is designed for the commuter and the tourist. Residents from the suburbs are encouraged to venture downtown to enjoy the nightlife and special events. Parking garages are in abundance in downtown Louisville and traffic control is a priority to the local police when it comes to Main Street and 4th Street Live. The rest of us can pretty much go to hell. It is as if it doesn't matter that people actually live here in this building as do the other 2,500 residents scattered about this corridor downtown. The noise is quite deafening and rude. I just happened to have my camera handy on the day of this reckoning projected in this film.
The Tools of Migrant Hunters is the third in a series of films demonstrating the lyricism and images found in the contemporary work of the poet M Sarki. Avant-garde in its presentation, novel in its approach, this film, as well as others in this series, experiments in the use of mixed media in order to expand the number of witnesses aware of this artist's work.
An exit must be made from Third and Broadway, and who will leave first? There is incessant pounding on the pavement and also in her head. He would die if she left him. What goes on in the world isn't for everybody, but for some reason these people have it. Too much of it. And you will too.
The voice of Cissy Jones stars in this new indie film by M Sarki, third in a series of mixed-media collage that includes the use of Sarki's poetry and video as well as selected original music compositions from some of our greatest. Some tasteful nudity is incorporated as poetry too, and between the words and images, there remains the hope that the world is better with this film in it.
So, to finish
If there is one thing I have discovered as truth in this long road is that experience is the best teacher. That is, if one is paying attention to life and attempting to make the most of it. Sometimes I think we let life live us. At least I did. And when we finally figure that out it feels like there is little time left to correct our course and get to the work we have been called to do. Intuitively I have always known what I must do, but rarely did I pay attention to this intuition except as something that interested me in how it came into my consciousness and how quickly I would toss it aside as undoable or ridiculous. I believe my father had a voice in this behavior. At least I hear him in my head. So I worked and raised a family, performed a few jobs I believed I was suited for, made a couple career changes, and finally found myself still miserable and needing help. The prescribed drugs helped me feel better, but still I was not happy. It wasn't until I myself returned to the impulse always present in me to be a writer of note that I began to right my wayward ship. To say this turnaround was easy would make me a liar of the first degree. Many false starts and wrong ideas made for much unpleasantry. But I would not quit. I would never surrender. I continually searched for answers in my reading of novels and short stories until I happened across the editor and teacher Gordon Lish.
Through the years I have already written much about my relationship with Gordon Lish. I do not want to belabor the point, but he has been monumental in my recovery as a person and as a writer. Without him I would be nothing. I absolutely believe that to be true. I am devoted to the man and appreciate all he has given me. He taught me to be me and to learn what it is I liked. Sounds easy but it isn't. So many of us are taught what to like and why to like it. But to actually discern for yourself why you like something, and be able to articulate your point, is beyond measure a very good thing. There is nothing more valuable than getting to know yourself and what makes you tick.
So what does that mean for me and the future of my art? My impulse always is to create. I am drawn like a leach to the female naked form and all it means. The lust that my poems and photographs imply are real, and I use my model in my attempt to capture anything I can regarding this topic. There are days when she does not want to participate, she has to feel like it. I understand. I can always stay home and write about something rather than venturing out into this other strange world. But when she is able to take her clothes off for me in order to play around in new ground, I am usually ready. My model worries sometimes that others will think she is an exhibitionist. That is simply not true. She takes her clothes off for me and for the sake of my art. If it wasn't my wife then it would have to be somebody else. She isn't about to have that happen. She will continue to model for me until she fails to see the point, or her body can longer present itself as something beautiful or at least relevant. We started this endeavor after she had already turned forty years old. It is a shame, a crying shame, that there are no nude photographs of her in existence until that period of time and into the present. We are both getting older now and time is not on our side. It is imperative that I get as much footage shot of her as possible. Where I will use the footage is anybody's guess. But I certainly will find a way to get her on to the screen. She may not want to be an exhibitionist, but the truth is, she is my exhibit. She helps to make my poems accessible in a way that the words cannot do on their own. Or at least differently. She is my study in love, friendship, lust, fidelity, and whoredom. Rarely is there a day when she is not involved in matters concerning my day. No matter what happens in the course of events she has no doubt played a role in how I viewed them or my perception of them. We are a team. And we will continue to produce these films until we both have nothing left to say.
Films and books by M Sarki
- mewlhouse on HubPages
M Sarki was born in East Tawas, Michigan in 1953. Besides being a poet with four collections published, Sarki is a painter and photographer. He...