The Afternoon

The Afternoon
click on the image to view the video


Charles Olsen, film-maker, writer, New Zealand/Spain


Office angst one everyday afternoon.


This fraudulent afternoon
he fills up with little worries.
Not like the daring grasshopper
who insists on making himself heard,
but rather a timid ruffian
lying in wait with hidden knife.

So pass the hours
and it seems nothing happens.

Poem from Antípodas (Huerga y Fierro, 2016)

Charles Olsen on the project

I wrote the poem originally in Spanish under the pseudonym Constance de Nelson, inspired by five words chosen by our local greengrocer as part of the poetry project Palabras Prestadas (Given Words). Usually I write the poems first without thinking about any future visual treatment and then things connect together and some of them ask to be made into a film.

Inspired by a person I met in an office I took on the personality of this unblinking bespectacled character with not a hair out of place who nevertheless betrays an underlying nervousness; their words tightly surrounding their head as though they are forever trapped. I particularly enjoy the idea of the poet becoming one of the characters in their poem and am interested in exploring this in future poetry films. I recorded versions in both English and Spanish at the same time.

Charles Olsen by Lilián Pallares
Charles Olsen by Lilián Pallares


Festival Silêncio (version in Spanish, 'La Tarde'), Portugal, September 2017.
Festival Sinestesia (version in Spanish, 'La Tarde'), Spain, May 2017.


Poetry Film Live, UK, July 2017.


Charles Olsen is an artist and poet living in Madrid, Spain. With the Colombian writer Lilián Pallares he runs the audiovisual production company antenablue. He has two collections of poems in bilingual editions, Sr Citizen (2011) and Antípodas (2016). His poems are included in the forthcoming collection, More of Us (Landing Press, Wellington), and he has written essays for the forthcoming The Poetics of Poetry Film (Intellect Books, Bristol). He has work published in Moving Poems, Poetry Film Live, blackmail press, Landfall and the New Zealand Poetry Yearbook, including his translations of Spanish and Colombian poets.

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For their contributions, advice and assistance, thanks to:
Ari Raijas, Bronwen Manger, Caroline Rumley, Dave Bonta, Eduardo Yagüe, Fiona Tinwei Lam, Helen Dewbery, Jane Glennie, Karen Dawson, Lori Ersolmaz, Lucia Sellars, Lucy English, Maria Vella, Martin Kelly, Matt Hetherington, Matt Mullins, Mike Hoolboom, Nigel Wells, Pam Falkenberg, R.W. Perkins, Sanket Shrestha, the film-makers, writers and their collaborators.