It’s the last day of April, so ACCENT is closing its celebration of National Poetry Month with two poems, the first from French poet Arthur Rimbaud, and the second from Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca.
Arthur Rimbaud wrote “Le dormeur du val” or, “The Sleeper in the Valley,” when he was a young man. It is a shocking poem about a young soldier who falls asleep, never to wake again. In this translation, the diction that Rimbaud utilizes to set the scene of the poem, words like “hollow,” “gurgles,” “bubbling,” “bathed,” set the reader up for the poem’s, and the soldier’s, final conclusion: a soldier’s death.
Federico Garcia Loca’s poem, “Every Song” is sparse and beautiful, capturing the ephemeral nature of music, of time, of life.
In this first piece, ACCENT Rome staff by day and poetess by night, Chiara Trivellini shares one of her poems. Regarding her poem, Chiara explains: “As the title says, this poem is my biography. It talks about the period in my life when I began to write poetry, when I became conscious of being a budding poet and realized that making rhymes and writing verses came as second nature. Since that moment, I have continued to write in order to open myself up and to make myself conscious of my feelings and emotions. I used to find it difficult to access such emotion and self-awareness, but poetry helps me better understand the past and envision the future. The last verse of this poem is a hymn to perseverance, reminding me to never stop writing. From there in the poem, I picture myself approaching old age, reading my poems.”
This second piece is by Eugenio Montale, a favorite poet of our ACCENT Florence staff. Born in Genoa, Montale is known as one of Italy’s greatest lyrical poets. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1975.
You can find more of Eugenio Montale’s poems translated by A.S. Kleine online at poetrytranslation.com. For works by other Italian poets like Ubmerto Saba, Dino Campana, and Giuseppe Ungaretti, click here.
Writer, editor, and tutor Guy Meredith describes himself as a story consultant. Having written television and film scripts for over thirty years, he knows how to tell a story effectively and now runs seminars covering a variety of writer’s skillsets. In March, Guy visited the ACCENT London Study Center in order to speak with Comparative Media students from the University of Southern California.
Having worked as a screenwriter in Europe (UK and Germany) and the United States, Guy is a great advocate of international co-production. During the session, Guy spoke about collaboration in writing across international borders, focusing on co-production projects between the United Kingdom, the United States, and European countries in film and television.
The discussion began with students looking at the UK box office report for the third weekend of February 2014. Unsurprisingly, 14 out of the 15 top grossing films were made and funded, at least in part, in the United States. Both partially funded by European investment, in conjunction with U.S. and UK money, The Monuments Men (which ranked number 2 for its weekend gross) and Cuban Fury (which came in at number 7), grounded the discussion.
Guy explained that it is much easier and more common for filmmakers to work on international co-production projects than it is for television writers and producers to do so. Students saw the truth of this matter when looking at a list of the top shows in television in February 2014: most of the shows on the list were exclusively made in the UK or in the U.S.
Guy also got the students to discuss their thoughts on why films made in the U.S. seem to sell so well in the UK and around the world. Students spoke of how “spectacle” sells and hypothesized about what a typical movie audience might want from the movie-going experience. They determined that movies with bigger budgets, funded by large U.S. studios or by a combination of smaller companies, impress their audience with special effects and riveting storylines and thus draw bigger crowds.
As a storywriter on a mission to help make other people better storywriters, Guy gave the students thought-tasks throughout the lecture, encouraging them to consider how they might tell a typical romantic comedy story in a co-production project funded by companies representing multiple countries. Some students suggested that setting a story in a small region of a country that might want greater international coverage, such as the Basque or Catalonia regions of Spain, might be an effective co-production tactic. Others noted that having an international star from a foreign country, such as Penélope Cruz in Vanilla Sky, would be a good way to tell a story that was co-produced. With the aim of ensuring high international co-production value, USC students came up with a variety of new romantic comedy film ideas, many set in multiple locations, or starring internationally-acclaimed actors. The lesson they learned from Guy was clear: there are many things to consider when working on an international co-production project, and critical and creative thinking is key to any co-produced film’s success.
April is National Poetry Month in the United States and we here at ACCENT San Francisco couldn’t be more excited to use this month as a chance to explore poetry from around the world, particularly poetry coming from the nations that are home to our six Study Centers overseas in England, France, Spain, Italy, and Turkey!
To kick off the month, we’ll start by sharing a poem from the Bard himself, William Shakespeare. Here is an excerpt from “Hamlet” in which the protagonist grapples with the very meaning of existence.
To be, or not to be
From William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” ACT III, Scene 1
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them. To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: aye, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awryy
And lose the name of action.
For those of you looking to experience this soliloquy from Shakespeare in a multicultural way, here’s a reading of this poem preformed in Spanish:
~Chelsey Little, ACCENT San Francisco
***Do you have a favorite British, French, Spanish, Italian, or Turkish poem you’d like to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to share and we just might post your suggestion on the ACCENT Blog, along with any scholarly commentary you might like to provide!***