Wednesday, November 16, 2011

St. Louis arts organization formally states kinship to Istanbul

Introducing: Poetry Scores’ Sister Cities Program

Starting from its roots in rock bands and a field recording collective, Poetry Scores always has been a people-to-people, artist-to-artist endeavor. From its infancy as an official arts organization that translates poetry into other media, Poetry Scores always has deliberately varied its focus, year by year, between American and International poets. And we always have been scavengers for collaboration, seeking and accepting help from any quarter in turning poetry into music, visual art, movies, beer, whatever.

Add all that together and one thing you might get is what we annouce now: The Poetry Scores Sister City Program. Starting in 2011, each year we will adopt a creative Sister City for Poetry Scores (and our beloved hub of St. Louis, Missouri). As we always have done with our choice of poets to score, we will alternate between International and American Sister Cities, starting this time with the Internationals, since in 2011 we happen to be scoring an international (Irish) poet.

And the Sister City that Poetry Scores adopts in 2011 is: Istanbul, Republic of Turkey.

The immediate occasion for this choice is Tunca Subasi of Istanbul accepting our invitation to show in the 2011 Poetry Scores Art Invitational. Tunca also is lending his penetrating artwork about the American atomic bomb project to the movie we are producing now, Go South for Animal Index, based on Stefene Russell’s poem about The Bomb. This marks our first collaboration with an international artist in an Art Invitational or a movie production.

But Tunca stands on the shoulders of giants when it comes to the creative relationship between Istanbul and Poetry Scores.

Poetry Scores has its earliest roots in the rock bands Enormous Richard, Eleanor Roosevelt and Three Fried Men. The songwriting core of these bands set to music the poetry of Orhan Veli – a great genius of Istanbul – as translated into English by a son of Istanbul, Murat Nemet-Nejat. We were guided in this work by Defne Halman, a Turkish/American actress now based in Istanbul.

The second poem we scored as Poetry Scores was Blind Cat Black, one of the greatest poems ever written (however allusively) about Istanbul – by Ece Ayhan and translated into English by Murat. Blind Cat Black was the first movie we made from one of our poetry scores. Then Ipek Tuna, Onur Karagoz and others brought our movie Blind Cat Black to Istanbul in 2010. Through this exchange, a creative dialogue, affection and friendship has started to evolve between the underground artistic community of Istanbul and our large collective of (mostly) St. Louis artists.

What does it mean to be a Poetry Scores Sister City? We expect what it means to evolve over time, but going into it, we accept a responsibility to reach out to artists and audiences in our Sister Cities as we go about our work. Just as we do spontaneously and pragmatically with St. Louis, we will look to these cities for our talent, our audiences, our ideas, our friends. It’s not a one-shot deal, either – once a Sister City, always a Sister City. The relationship is cumulative and ongoing. In the case of Istanbul, this amounts to a formal statement of an existing relationship; but there is value in formal statements.

For specific starters, in addition to Tunca joining our Art Invitational for Incantata and movie crew for Go South for Animal Index, Ipek has committed to chairing a committe to translate Go South for Animal Index into Turkish, and Poetry Scores has committed to use this translation to edit a subtitled Turkish edition of the completed movie.

Artists and audiences in our Sister City of Istanbul, we hope to hear from you; and you can expect to hear more from us – people to people, artist to artist, friend to friend.

Poetry Scores * *


Photo from EUROsimA.

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