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Lina Vitkauskas

Lina Ramona Vitkauskas is Lithuanian-Canadian-American and an award-winning poet / videopoet. Her videopoems and/or visual art derived from her videopoems have placed in international video poetry festivals or have been featured at: MOCA Toronto; Ontario College of Art & Design; Boston Cyberarts Gallery;; International Migration & Environmental Film Festival (Canada); Vienna Poetry Film Festival; Festival Fotogenia (Mexico City); the Newlyn Film Festival (UK); and the Cadence Video Poetry Film Festival (US). Her collection of videopoems, based upon her chapbook, White Stockings, was a collaboration with visual artist, Tess Cortes, and were screened at the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies (AABS) conference at Stanford University (2018), Chicago Filmmakers (2019), and for a reading via the League of Canadian Poets. In 2020, she received a PEN America Relief Grant. Lina Ramona is the author of the poetry books / chapbooks Lines of Demarcation (JackPine Press, 2022); Between Plague & Kleptocracy: Invented Poetic Creations & Conversations of Seva & Bill (Secret Airplanes Press, 2021); Ministry of Foreign Affairs – MOFA (Secret Airplanes Press, 2018); White Stockings (White Hole Press, 2016); SPINY RETINAS (Mutable Sound, 2014); Professional Poetry (White Hole Press, 2013); A Neon Tryst (Shearsman Books, 2013); and more. In 2019, she published an essay in an anthology dedicated to the poetry of Lithuanian filmmaker and Anthology Film Archives founder, Jonas Mekas, titled Message Ahead: Poets Respond to the Poems of Jonas Mekas (Rail Editions – Brooklyn Rail); and performed voice-over narration in the independent documentary film, George: The Story of George Mačiunas & Fluxus, directed by Jeffrey Perkins and featuring Yoko Ono. The documentary has been screened at MoMA as well as in Amsterdam, London, and Vilnius. Lina Ramona is past winner of the Henry Miller Memorial Library Ping Pong Journal Award (selected by Eleni Sikelianos) and of The Poetry Center of Chicago’s Juried Reading Award (selected by Brenda Hillman). In 2000, she earned an M.A. in Creative Writing from Wright State University, where she participated in a summer workshop with Nikky Finney, the 2012 National Book Award Winner in Poetry.


Keeping Up with the Huidobros


Short summary: A video poem using homophonic/layered translation.

Description: It began with Chilean poet, Vincente Huidobro. The opening / preface of his poetic masterpiece, Altazor, launches into a metaphysical cascade of imagery. This was exciting to a young poet like me—at age 29 with some Spanish knowledge and seeking a manifesto to climb (the name "altazor" is a combination of the noun "altura” / “altitude" and the adjective "azorado” / "bewildered" or "taken aback"). I’d been experimenting with layered or looking-glass ekphrasis (a term that I’ve coined for this process). As I create videopoems, a visual language in of itself, I found this poem in particular to be different: it was fueled by a homophonic translation (three languages fused: English, Spanish, and the visual). From this, a separate Lithuanian poem sprung, inspired by the overlapped sounds of street noise, a looped harpsichord, and selected juxtapositions of the poet’s translated phrases and/or words. Now four languages exist in this space. It was also a synchronous discovery to find that the first issue of Huidobro’s international art magazine, Creación, featured Lithuanian-born, Cubist sculptor, Jacques Lipchitz. A photo of Lipchitz’s sculpture “Acrobat on Horseback” appears in the videopoem. The poem in Lithuanian roughly translated: Ink of dawn Scales & shells My life A falling acrobat A forgotten ship Don’t know the birds Don’t know the river I was born from the rain Hungry Untied Without a name Without a nation Not giving up I gave everything


Full text of homophonic translation: KEEPING UP WITH THE HUIDOBROS I was born at the age of eight on the cut of no Christ; gin and tonic was the equator of my hairless pain under the geraniums of the German piano, a cuddy beneath bergs. I had the blank stare of a victim, a relentless bicycle. I breathed in the next blind father upon a trapeze bar, I loved the daylight, the curtain of every hat. My mother spoke with larks coming from her mouth, she embroidered buttons to my breast. On the first day, I asked the larks to un-beak these buttons, to look upon the nudes of the gallery, to collect the broken shells of rational hearts. Then I created my tongue and braided my grave. I constructed my development from my grandmother’s slips and Russian soap stars upon the tombs of sublime retinal failure. Speeding gold chessboards of sight, perhaps they preferred disconnection so as not to see the disconnected language sculpted from this life; perhaps when disengaged, the last sigh of vision delivered untangled tropes. I looked at my fists, angled as accordions, a horse upon each virgin extracted for the stain of sleep, the illusion of hair. Where the blood of my vain tongue slipped into my father’s glass and burned my skin an effigy; of phone cords and exoplanets of bound light; each season a blister of stone; I, a little soldier who fights. All of my throats the planets, money wired to each wintry renewal of skin, more skin, all the skin I could grow. I drank the hunters, the cascades of bile, each hammer of my selves a bitter astronomy. There is a secret to my vertigo, it’s my gills in a sea of handkerchiefs.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Translating Myself

Description: Vitkauskas the poet revisits the idea of innate language—languages we have always known and have yet to speak. One of her last cinepoems, Keeping Up with the Huidobros, used a confrontational method of translating a translation, more specifically, leveraging the homophonic (sound) to get new meaning from poems. In this latest cinepoem, “Translating Myself”, the poet applies what poet Clark Coolidge once said of writing poetry: “It had to make itself something through me.” In this spirit, the poet layers her own words to create new poems from one.



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