flightpath is a cinematic video-poem featuring the art of Tehran artist Shirin Pilehvari in contrast with pristine, old-growth forest in Limehouse, Ontario. My function was writer (poet) & director. Please note full credits in the video and on my YouTube channel for a list of creative collaborators in visual art, music, poetry, narration, translation and editing.
Our core team included Eric Gerrard (camera) and Konrad Skreta (audio and video editing). We created seven video poems between 2009-2013.
In 2020 Konrad Skreta and I collaborated on a 32 minute video poem featuring his experimental animation of my digital collages (and poetry).
When I created the ‘wordless poem’ Never More Together (120 linocut prints – The Porcupine’s Quill) in 2014 I sometimes needed to answer questions like, ‘How is this a poem?’
So I wrote the poem Meditations on a Wordless Poem. In earlier versions I related it to the silent process of carving in lino and creating non-linear poetry via images. I recall describing how I warmed lino under a hot lamp (during a heat wave!) so it would be easier to carve. In the poem found below I abandoned such descriptions, focusing more on the metaphysical. One thing leads to another.
In 2020 Konrad Skreta and I co-directed a 32:28 poetry/art (animation) video based on this poem. Because of Covid, and disruptions, or so I tell myself, I am just now getting around to submitting the video (titled Ode to a Wordless Poem) to festivals.
I watched it again today. Konrad embellished my poetry and images (text-art & visual poetry) by composing ever-shifting & evocative geometric and organic designs. & Within a landscape of psyche, perception and shadow the music too, as well as Konrad’s soundscape, is hypnotic. One thing leads to another.
Meditations on a Wordless Poem
The poem is an image & the image is a poem
Poem is an image passing through the body.
Image contains the rhythmic incantation of voice manipulating shapes
And visual balance –
Image passes into and through the body, embracing rhythmic incantations.
The alchemy of poetry transfigures a blank page into a sequence
Of comprehension –
A sequence of psychic incantation configures the blank page.
The process of transfiguring dross and creating gold
Is recorded two-dimensionally –
A sequence of shapes and visual balance enter your body as
Symbols meet texture in a relationship spanning theory and time.
Theory and time, in place of words, pass through your body.
Epic poetry resembles line and movement
An ancient voice extends invisible realities into song
Songs of prehistory rush forward, intersecting with our surveillance state.
A visual poem is like a city
As the lights go off, a new sound emerges of all that has gone before
Missing words, animals, plants and civilizations are replaced
Epic poetry rushes forward containing new information.
Poetry, pulsing, aims within a sequence of images
Invisible line responds, summoning persona, questing,
Transmitting erotic signals
Light hollows any false reflection
New information transmits erotic signals
The lights in a city fade
Street by street.
As the image is read the pulse of the work transfigures
Surrealism speaks of fragrance and desire
Alchemy embodies fragrance
The alchemical poem juxtaposes human need and the impossible
Human desire interfaces with the surveillance state
The white of the page recorded two-dimensionally
The fragrance of light a dreaming of desire.
Subconscious language is dream entwining both image and word within
Phenomena as natural as the elements.
Original idea & mind entwine both image and dream
Negative space surrounds the image suggesting a missing fragment of verse.
Ecology and psyche blur in the composition of the wordless poem
Suggesting a missing fragment of verse.
The alchemical juxtaposes with the social.
Missing plants and animals pass through your body, a type of social architecture
A type of shorthand evolves, culturally recognized as poetry.
Stanzas and passages translate visually within atmospheres of memory.
Images float in a psychic space of precognition.
Pictograms evolve in the composition of the wordless poem, as ecology and psyche blur.
The fragrance of light is an image passing through your body &
Recognized culturally, in social architecture, as a poem.
Blink your eyes while you turn the page in torchlight & you realize
In my computer floating freely I found a digital file of (shall we say) cartoonish ‘Druid-monk’ images. He’s working beneath a light bulb (of course) and creating an icon of spirals. One is a cauldron-spiral. Perhaps I was thinking of manuscript illumination.
Then I found an ink drawing/collage from my (rather dark) 2011 exhibition at Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts in Toronto.
After combining them in Photoshop I was going to call the series ‘Temptation at the Manuscript Factory’ – humour inspired by a miniature I’d created many moons ago for an art gallery and gallery owner (both gone) who annually held an International Exhibition of Miniature Art. Instead I worked with a line from my unpublished poem Celtlandia Has Fallen.
Celtlandia Has Fallen is a sort of a quest poem, inspired by ancestral yearnings. There is something in the DNA stirring. In the Continuous Vegetal Style I served her. I don’t remember this, but in the poem ‘I’ do.
A poetry video from eight years ago I made with a professional camera operator and video/audio editor, location sound mixer, a drummer, public domain silent film (masters!) footage, Spanish & French translation, urban footage…
Watching you in the shadows rip your poems into pieces, tossing them like blossoms cascading into a bucket of glowing coals.
The shadows of your hands flutter perfectly against the wall, the shadow of your fingers tearing shapes into pieces, tossed up & falling down, the sun at two o’clock highlighting shadows like birds sliding down the wall.
Nobody imagined your face streaked or the palms of your hands covered in coal dust.
One torn fragment flies through smoke and sticks to your streaked face in the shadow of a cherry tree, the bucket heavy as an anchor, the last of your words going up in smoke.
I fell in love with the maps of distant time, unexplained distant time & the Neolithic, I fell in love with the Neolithic – your dark hair,
Dark as some mystery strain of ancient wheat shimmering in the coolness of twilight, pressing your toes and fingers into the clay floor, stretching your body from horizon to horizon
Balancing a voluminous golden disc upon your delicate, curving spine. I’ve learned the language of discs and cherry blossoms, your fingers and smoke. I bury my animal cry.
Your shadows are hunger.
The eye blinks once in the gloomy shadow of the soul’s laboratory. A shattered disc showers fragments. Clay – no, not clay – gold. Hollow doors open and close, concealing this world. You seize the universal remote. Your fingertips press TV channels bright as a sun. The Clay Channel. The Gold Channel.
You gave me an indelible precision I mistook for esoteric ambiguity. Shadows conceal and reveal. I gave you tools for repairing machinery. You asked where this machinery might be found.
In the Legion parking lot snakes fall from the sky. You sing them down into the branches, how you sang! They wound themselves down, sliding and wet, their hearts tinted with gold, zigzagging into liquid angles and spitting hieroglyphics, falling upon your shoulders like rain loosening your hair.
Cauldrons along your spine bubbled over spilling gold. I was drawn as if by a magnet to your magical hysteria on the night you promised you would never shatter again.
You raved about a coastline where we might find ourselves half-buried.
You ridiculed mannerism in cinema but never did you ridicule Suprematism. In the shadow of a tower you open a drawer filled with soft gloves and the sounds of night. You pull charcoal up to your elbow. The Suprematism of your eyes lined with kohl.
A movement crosses the palm of your hand dividing stone from water. Your breath fills your spine with heat, a motionless reflection shimmers, spreading to the edge of a stone radius.
Your blood has not forgotten this stone.
I read Neolithic in full in February and it took me ten minutes to read with a fairly brisk delivery. I have edited it substantially (and spontaneously) for this posting. I hope I have conveyed the essence of the poem even knowing how much is missing…
Born in Albania, Majlinda Bashllariis the author of two poetry collections, Një udhë për në shtëpi (A road to home), published in Tirana, Albania (Morava, 2007) & Love is a very long word, published by Guernica Editions in 2016. Bashllari’s work has appeared in numerous Albanian art and literature magazines and in Albanian anthologies of essays and short stories. She lives in Toronto.