Living Image by Susie Welsh

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A mixed-media work by Los Angeles-based writer and artist Susie Welsh, which came to my attention when it was featured at the Atticus Review back in November. Welsh had written:

The Living Image project began as a call-and-response between my writing and the paintings of visual artist, Bill Atwood. These static elements were then brought to life on camera through my collaborations with video artists, Billy Hunt and Brian Wimer, as well as musician, Deke Shipp.

The video is in six numbered parts: “The Source,” “Inverted,” “In Echo,” “Out of Blindness,” “The Witness” and “The Sphinx.” The poet’s face forms part of the screen/surface onto which images are projected, which is always an interesting effect but works especially well here, drawing attention to the hermetic and spell-like quality of the text — a text which, to be honest, I probably wouldn’t like very much on its own, laden as it is with modifiers and abstractions. But it works well in a videopoem that’s truly greater than the sum of its parts. The Vimeo description reads:

Living Image is a poetry film exploring the frustration and alienation inherent in the assumption of selfhood, as well as the possibility of extricating the power of consciousness from our self-conscious preoccupation.

Click through to Atticus Review to read a fuller artist’s statement, which delves into ancient Egyptian cosmology, as well as a bio of Welsh. And while you’re there, check out the guidelines for submission — mixed media editor Matt Mullins is always looking for new material.

“Aurora is the effort” by Emily Dickinson

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A brand new videopoem by writer (and former film major) James Brush demonstrating one way to make an effective video with a very short, enigmatic text, marrying Dickinson’s cosmic lines with some footage that is literally out of this world. James put up a blog post about it, which I’ll take the liberty of quoting in full:

This is a video I made for Emily Dickinson’s “Aurora is the effort.” I stumbled on the Jupiter aurora footage at ESA/Hubble and wanted to do something with it. I had Dickinson on my mind since we share a birthday, and I often find myself turning to her work around this time of year, so I started searching for aurora-related Dickinson poems and liked this one for its simplicity and unusual syntax and wording. The sounds are radio static and me rubbing the strings and hitting the back of a bass guitar with some effects from garage band.

I’ve been wanting to do a Dickinson poem for years and even have a concept for another one that maybe someday will get done. Thanks for watching.

For an interesting perspective on what Dickinson might’ve been up to in this poem, see Jed Deppman’s Trying to Think With Emily Dickinson (University of Massachusetts Press, 2008), p. 129 ff. (via Google Books). Deppman finds that “Aurora is the effort”

features the kind of deconstructive paradox that both defines and destabilizes many of Dickinson’s definition poems: the category of “the natural” transforms into the others that philosophers have always used to define it by opposition: the “social,” “cultural” and “artificial.” The specific terms the speaker uses to transform cosmology into cosmetics and make heaven’s two-facedness the basis of a definition under erasure derive in part from the idea—circulating in Amherst thanks to Transcendentalism, Ruskin, Hitchcock, and the Hudson River school—that nature mirros God’s consciousness, that, as Barton Levi St. Armand puts it, “the sensuous veil of nature is but a protective covering over the naked creative spirit of the universe.”

It’s worth reading the analysis in full to realize just how much meaning Dickinson could pack into her gnomic verses.

Trains of Austerlitz by Karen Mary Berr

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A 2009 poetry film, newly uploaded to Vimeo, written, directed and performed by Karen Mary Berr.

Bird by Haide Rollo

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A videopoem of the purest sort, meaning that poem and video are one and the same, by filmmaker Helmie Stil with Haide Rollo assisted by Denise Saul. The project from which it and two others emerged sounds fascinating:

Silent Room: A Journey of Language is a collaborative video poem project funded by Arts Council England. Denise Saul, project founder and poet, and Helmie Stil, filmmaker, work with individuals who have the speech disability, aphasia, to produce a series of video poems. This second video poem is Haide Rollo’s Bird.

That’s the Vimeo description. Here’s the Silent Room website. About this film, it says:

Haide Rollo is a workshop participant and emerging poet. … Haide used prompts, writing and hand gesture to create a poem about silent places.

heyday by Shin Yu Pai

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A silent text animation by Michael Barakat, who worked closely with the poet, Shin Yu Pai. Shin Yu told me in an email last Sunday,

I created this piece with designer Michael Barakat for a civic festival for the City of Redmond, WA, where I am wrapping up a 2-year term as the city’s fourth poet laureate. We projected the piece on the side of City Hall at its annual Redmond Lights Festival which took place this past weekend.

Via Shin Yu’s blog, here’s a video (shot by Scott Keva James) showing what that looked like:

Blue Black Wet of Wood by Carmen Gillespie

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A film by Sundance Award-winning director Malik Vitthal for Motionpoems, based on the title poem from Carmen Gillespie‘s 2106 collection from Two Silvias Press. An adept juxtaposition of filmpoem lyricism with the kind of storytelling familiar to movie-goers conveys a powerful sense of the experience of loss within the African American community and beyond.

Motionpoems have also released a video interview with Gillespie, filmed and edited by Ramble Pictures, about the origin of the poem and the film:

Eric Doise, who conducted the interview, also put together a lesson plan for poetry teachers [PDF] based on the film and interview — the sort of thing I hope to see a lot more of in the coming years, both from Motionpoems and from other poetry-film makers as well.

The Nostalgia of the Poet by Gabriele Tinti

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A brilliant meditation on mortality from director Pasquale Napolitano, actor Alessandro Haber, and poet Gabriele Tinti, filmed in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples by Luca Lucrezio Catapano, with a soundtrack by Giovanni de Feo. Tinti writes on Vimeo:

The aim of my series of ekphrastic poetry is to reactivate the now lost aura of the work of art, of all those relics of worlds and heroes – of a humanity – that no longer exist. The sense of death, of fragility, of emptiness, even of our masterpieces that we would wish to be eternal, are the instigation for my work. In this way the work takes on new life and the poetry, by reference, finds an ideal body in which to take form. On the other hand, critical analysis always restricts the aesthetic and cultural range of a masterpiece. Because every time a work is analyzed it is defiled, an attempt is made on its irreducibility. Poetry is never reduced to an explanation. Real poetry is always beyond any calculation, any system, any geometry: it is incompleteness, evocation, lament, thrill.

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