Today is the “official” release date of the short film adapted from my poem, “How Not To Need Resurrection,” first published in Poetry in 2003, then again in my book Resurrection Party (Silver Birch Press, 2014). In the supplementary interviews included with the film and the text of the poem at Motionpoems’ website here: http://www.motionpoems.com/resurrection/, one of the things I talk about is the challenge of the adaptation process, of the importance of letting go of your work and not developing preconceptions or expectations that will make it harder for you to open up to the filmmaker’s vision. Because poetry is less typically adapted than fiction, I think this can be more of a leap for us (poets), but a worthwhile one.
I think one of the most interesting parts of this process was the way it caused me to reflect on the poem more as a reader might than as its writer. One of the things the filmmakers mentioned when first talking to me was that they had been especially intrigued by its last line, which is the one line that I had the hardest time with when first writing the poem and the only one I really changed from the first draft (the title also had a few iterations). That conversation and then seeing the film several months later helped me to feel like I really understood the meaning of that line and how it “completed” the rest of the poem in a new way.
In the same way that reading good poems can make people interested in writing poems themselves, this whole experience has also revived some of my own interest in making short films, which is something I’ve dabbled in before. I’m hoping to eventually make my poem, “Tonight, the Clouds,” which can be read here: http://dailydoseoflit.com/2014/09/26/excerpt-michalle-gould/ into an animated film itself one day!
I was interviewed by Ghanaian book blogger Geoffrey Gyasi here: https://geosireads.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/interview-with-michalle-gould-author-of-resurrection-party/ – this was cool both because it was fun doing the interview and I enjoyed answering the questions and because it reminded me that I should read more authors from different African countries.
I am particularly excited to check out some of the authors on these two lists: https://geosireads.wordpress.com/other-challenges/african-writers-challenge/ (the African Writers Series) and the Commonwealth Writers Prizewinners list: https://geosireads.wordpress.com/other-challenges/commonwealth-winners-challenge-africa/.
I am hoping to start with Benjamin Kwakye and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. Also I really recommend Sembene Ousmane’s book God’s Bits of Wood: http://www.amazon.com/Gods-Bits-Wood-Sembene-Ousmane/dp/0435909592/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441062307&sr=8-1&keywords=god%27s+bits+of+wood which is a harrowing novel about the 1947 Dakar-Niger railway strike.
My poem, “Venus Smiles,” just appeared in The Awl here: http://www.theawl.com/2015/07/a-poem-by-michalle-gould – it involves the (I imagine) rare combination of language incorporated from Romeo and Juliet and a slight Gene Wolfe The Book of the New Sun shout-out. Which reminds me that I should re-read those books!
Poems from Resurrection Party are being featured on Sundress Publications blog all week long (7/13-7/17) as part of their “Best Dressed” feature, which is exciting for me, as I have never seen those two words applied to anything remotely connected with me before! Here is the most recent entry: https://sundresspublications.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/the-wardrobes-best-dressed-michalle-goulds-resurrection-party-3/ and you can find the others linked below that one. It’s a poem I always feel strange about, because it was written in response to a specific historical event, but I was never sure how or if it was important to convey that context or if I should just let the poem evolve into something else. Over time, I think it has, without it ever really being up to me whether it did or not.
In other news, this week I registered as an official songwriter with ASCAP. My friend Amy K. Bormet, a jazz musician and composer and founder of the Washington Women in Jazz Festival, and I have collaborated on a series of four country songs, some live versions of three of which can be heard here: https://soundcloud.com/michalle-gould and the full set of which may soon be released as an EP. In addition, Amy has also set some of my poems to music and she and another friend of ours, Christine Morse, will be debuting the unaccompanied vocal duet “Tonight, the moon” this week at the Craft in America Gallery.
Here’s a photo of the first few lines of the sheet music:
Having my words set to music is a dream that I can not say that I ever really thought would come true. It took probably ten years to find the right musician to be interested in the country lyrics and in working with my poems (the latter is a possibility that I never even really considered), but it was worth the wait to find the right person!
My poem for the end of the world as part of Entropy/Enclave’s project of publishing “final poems” until they run out or the world ends can be found here: http://enclave.entropymag.org/finalpoem-from-michalle-gould/
I loved doing this – I think it encouraged me to write more spontaneously and not to over-think things. I did this mostly in a single sitting (other than parts of the second to last line, which ended up being the linchpin to the poem) and then sent it off.
Toward the end of May, I went to Minneapolis for the premiere at the Walker Art Center of the Sixth Season of Motionpoems, a webseries of short films adapted from poems by various contemporary authors. This season was interesting because all the poets were women, although the filmmakers were not – I believe there were about five female filmmakers out of a total of fourteen or fifteen. I write fiction as well as poetry and have even dabbled mildly in screenwriting, so I’ve definitely had my fantasies about having my work adapted on film, but I would hardly have thought that that particular dream would one day be fulfilled through the adaptation of a poem! The short film of “How Not To Need Resurrection” can be found here: https://vimeo.com/129687781 and should eventually appear on the Motionpoems site here: http://www.motionpoems.com/ with some supplementary materials (the poems are being released there individually over the course of the next year).
In addition, there have been some new reviews of Resurrection Party – I especially liked the one here: http://sabotagereviews.com/2015/05/07/resurrection-party-by-michalle-gould/ which is very detailed and thoughtful. Like many Americans, I have a touch of Anglophilia, so having my book reviewed in an English accent was a fun thrill for me.
I have a few new poems coming out this week, so links are forthcoming. It is encouraging to see some of the poems from what I hope will be my next book finding good homes and interesting to observe the shift from primarily print publication to primarily online (at least in my own case).
I hope you will enjoy the film! I am very grateful to the filmmakers for choosing my poem, among all the options they had available to them.