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Singing folk songs was a way of life


Story-telling and writing poetry takes me back to my 5-year-old self
Jonas Mekas Film-maker
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I think I was about five, when I got into some kind of telling to my father in the evening going through like sing-songing like some epics, very realistic about life in the village, very so, like my father sending the, telling what my father did, how he went to the mill and... I was so involved in it and so concentrated and so obsessed with it, that I... can put myself into that mood, into that memory whenever I want. I can turn back to it and it had the mood and the shape which later in some of my poetry cycles, returns, that mood and that, I consider that whatever I was doing now in cinema is, can be reduced, retraced back to what I was trying to sing out, to tell when I was five. So, it's like nothing new, I'm just perfecting what I was already wanted to, to sing out when I was five. I'm just polishing now and trying to return, trying to get it somehow, again, and I still keep trying to do it. Because that's when I was the best, I consider.

Jonas Mekas (1922-2019), Lithuanian-born poet, philosopher and film-maker, set up film collectives, the Anthology Film Archive, published filmzines and made hundreds of films, all contributing to his title as 'the godfather of American avant-garde cinema'. He emigrated to America after escaping from a forced labour camp in Germany in 1945.

Listeners: Amy Taubin

Amy Taubin is a contributing editor for "Film Comment" magazine and "Sight and Sound" magazine. Her book, "Taxi Driver", was published in 2000 in the British Film Institute's Film Classics series. Her chapter on "America: The Modern Era" is part of "The Critics Choice" published by Billboard Press, 2001, and her critical essays are included in many anthologies, mostly recently in "Frank Films: The Film and Video Work of Robert Frank" published by Scalo.

She wrote for "The Village Voice" weekly from 1987 into 2001 both as a film and a television critic. She also wrote a column for the "Village Voice" titled "Art and Industry" which covered American independent filmmaking. Her first weekly film criticism job was at the "SoHo Weekly News". Her writing has also appeared in "Art Forum", the "New York Times", the "New York Daily News", the "LA Weekly", "Millennium Film Journal", "US Harpers Bazaar" and many other magazines. She is a member of the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Online.

She started her professional life as an actress, appearing most notably on Broadway in "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie", and in avant-garde films, among them Michael Snow's "Wavelength", Andy Warhol's "Couch", and Jonas Mekas' "Diaries, Notebooks and Sketches".

Her own avant-garde film, "In the Bag" (1981) is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art and the Friends of Young Cinema Archives in Berlin.

She was the video and film curator of "The Kitchen" from 1983-1987.

She has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from N.Y.U. in cinema studies. She teaches at the School of Visual Arts in both the undergraduate and the MFA graduate programs, and lectures frequently at museums, media centers, and academic institutions. In 2003, she received the School of Visual Arts' art historian teaching award.

Tags: poetry, local news, child, story-telling

Duration: 2 minutes, 2 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008