Filmmaker and Hampshire College professor Abraham Ravett's latest creative project—a CD of poet Charles Reznikoff reading Holocaust—took more than three decades to bring to completion.
Ravett made the audio recording in Reznikoff's New York City apartment in December 1975, the same year that Black Sparrow Press published Holocaust and shortly before Reznikoff died.
Holocaust is largely based on translations from the Nuremberg and Eichmann trials. Read in the clear, aged voice of the great Objectivist poet, the recording captures the poem as an aesthetic object rather than feelings or thoughts, making the images it contains all the more haunting. Eighteen sections are entitled by opening testimony content, such as "One of the SS men…," "The state is to get hold…" and "The bodies were thrown out quickly…."
Listen to excerpts from Holocaust, read by poet Charles Reznikoff >>
Portions of the Reznikoff reading were used with the permission of both the poet and Black Sparrow Press in Ravett's 1978 film Thirty Years Later.
After protracted negotiations with Black Sparrow Press and the Reznikoff estate, Ravett finally received permission to release a CD for noncommercial, educational purposes. He covered production costs with his own funds, supplemented by a faculty development grant awarded to him by Hampshire College.
The CD insert contains photographs of Reznikoff that were taken by Ravett on the day of the recording and an essay, "Reznikoff's Voices," by Charles Bernstein, Regan Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. The insert was designed by Hampshire College graduate Nasser Mufti 01F.
A copy of the Holocaust CD can only be obtained by contacting Ravett at email@example.com.
More on Abraham Ravett films >>
Abraham Ravett was born in Poland in 1947, raised in Israel, and immigrated to the United States in 1955. He holds B.F.A. and M.F.A. degrees in filmmaking and photography and has been an independent filmmaker for the past 30 years.
Professor Ravett has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities, the Japan Foundation, the Artists Foundation, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. His films have been screened internationally at sites including the Museum of Modern Art and Anthology Film Archives in New York City, Pacific Film Archives in Berkeley, Innis Film Society in Toronto, Image Forum in Tokyo, and Scratch Projection in Paris.