Roland E. Martin

Yeats Between Two Worlds

As a professional musician, I have had many opportunities with which to explore a facet of William Butler Yeats’s plays: his fascination with Japanese Noh theater. Many of Yeats’s short plays are built on stories from Irish mythology. These plays inhabit a strange world somewhere between East and West. Here is an Irish poet/playwright writing in a traditional Japanese form, utilizing elements of each culture. The subject matter is near and dear to the Irish sensibility: stories drawn from ancient Irish history, mythology and religion, but the language is terse and formal. Yeats specifies where in these plays he expects music to be played, and which parts of the script are to be sung. He specifies what instruments are to be played and where.

Over the last several years I have been commissioned to compose music for three of these plays. When doing so, I similarly found myself caught between two worlds, not simply those of East and West, but also those of music and literature. What, then, are the boundaries between music and literature? How does one find an appropriate “sound world” for these stories, the characters within them and two geographically distinct cultures?

Marie Silkeberg

Words in War II

A presentation of, and reflections on, a six year long collaboration between an Arabic, and a Swedish poet, Ghayath Almadhoun and Marie Silkeberg. Ghayath Almadhoun, a Palestinian poet born in Syria 1979, migrated to Sweden in 2008. Marie Silkeberg is a Swedish poet, born in Denmark 1961, and granddaughter to a Russian Greek immigrantfrom Odessa, Ukraine.

This presentation will focus on the process of writing the book Till Damaskus (in English: “To Damascus” or ”The road to Damascus”), a co-written book, in which the Arabic poems is translated through English into Swedish by the two poets. The process of translation being its fundament, still the questions and necessity of translation are performed with the revolution and later war in Syria as a background. What does it mean to write and translate, in an ongoing conflict, in the silence of the world? How does it affect the words? How does it affect a collaboration? What can be shared in the effort to record and chronicle the present for the future? Can difference be of any use in each poets struggle to relate words of poetry to the world of today? As resistance? As strategies of survival, of expression, of survival in expression?

Extracts from the poetry films The Celebration, 2014 and The City, 2012 will conclude the presentation, contrasting the singularity of one voice with the multiple anonymous voices of a city.

Marie Silkeberg

Words in War I

A presentation of, and reflections on, a six year long collaboration between an Arabic, and a Swedish poet, Ghayath Almadhoun and Marie Silkeberg.

Ghayath Almadhoun, a Palestinian poet born in Syria (1979), migrated to Sweden in 2008. He is author of the poem ”We” on which the poetry film Destruction IV: Stockholm-Gaza 2009 is based. The film is the last one in a series of four made under the title ”Destruction” 2006-2008, by Marie Silkeberg and Fredrik Arsaeus Nauckhoff.

Destruction I-III is an inquiry into historical memory, through the moving image and the human voice, based on journeys to Japan, Vietnam and Poland.

Destruction IV marks a shift – from past to present – and is an expansion of the understanding of the human voice, its capacity to relate to, and evoke photographical images. An eruption of a non-European perspective.

The film also marks the beginning of a collaboration between Ghayath Almadhoun and Marie Silkeberg; a collaboration – an interval, a dialogue, a confrontation – which since then has produced three other poetry films – The City 2012, Your Memory is My Freedom 2012 and The Celebration 2014, and a book – Till Damaskus (To Damascus) 2014, written and signed by both poets.

This presentation will show extracts from Destruction IV: Stockholm-Gaza 2009 and Your Memory is My Freedom. The main focus will be on the poetry film as a transitional place to confront and elaborate differences. Moving from one art field to another, two poets from different parts of the world dedicates themselves to put the words at risk, in suspense and in motion, opening themselves to power struggles cutting through bodies and languages, in search for affinities that could override differences.

A scarred body, a listening voice. To open a wound. The wound of what? Of whom?

Caroline Rabourdin

Making Sense of Caroline Bergvall’s multilingual poetry: The space between langues and Lecercle’s Philosophy of Nonsense

Caroline Bergvall is a French-Norwegian writer and artist who works across media and languages. She has an acute awareness of the physicality of language and her works of multilingual poetry often involve spatial and/or audio installations.

Linguist Jean Jacques Lecercle has written extensively about the physicality and practice of language. When most linguists see language as an empirical object of study, Lecercle calls for the study of language that speaks us as well as language that we speak, and gives parole its rightful place in linguistics. He writes of ‘inhabiting’ language, in the phenomenological tradition. He also writes about Louis Wolfson, “who could not bear to hear or read his maternal tongue, English, and developed an intricate technique of instant translation according to sound”¹

In this paper, I will show that the space in between, for the multilingual, is where he/she no longer inhabits one langue or the other, where words become simple marks on a page, sounds in your ear, devoid of motivation and meaning. Using Lecercle’s Philosophy of Nonsense²  the bilingual space in between is the space of non-sense, and that poetry can show us the way to get there.

1. Jean Jacques Lecercle, The Violence of Language, London: Routledge, 1990, p.63

2. Jean Jacques Lecercle, Philosophy of Nonsense: The intuitions of Victorian Nonsense Literature, London & New York: Routledge, 1994