Not the Stars by John Dofflemyer

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This videopoem is a teaser for a forthcoming feature-length poetry documentary, The West, by filmmaker, composer and video artist H. Paul Moon (Zen Violence Films). According to the Vimeo description, it

Features poem “Not the Stars” written and recited by John Dofflemyer. Music composed and performed by Josh Coffey, with Jacob Siener. Additional camera by Bradley Winegar and Shang Ik Moon.

For more on John Dofflemyer, check out the wonderful poetry and ranching blog that he maintains with his photographer wife Robbin: drycrikjournal.

Here’s how the website for The West describes the full-length film:

This is an in-progress feature documentary about Western folklife, cowboy poets, and the American frontier. Pushing boundaries of documentary style, the film complements spoken poetry with artfully devised tableaus and landscapes that visualize the narrative themes of the poems, evincing stories of hardship and perseverance in today’s ranch culture. Surrounding this, interviews with folklorists, musicians, ranchers, and the cowboy poets themselves create an educational and historical context for this exploration, forming insightful ruminations on the West: not just a place or a moment in history, but a state of mind. Among all that seriousness, the cowboy’s lighter side will manifest in live performances and profiles from famous Western musicians like Don Edwards and Ian Tyson, and comedic monologues from legends in Western folklore like Baxter Black.

Before the current post-production stage of development, things kicked off in late 2012, when renowned historian and author Michael Wallis sat for an interview to give his insights on the West, laying a foundation for the West as “not just a place, but a state of mind.” Principal photography began around the annual occasion of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering at Elko, Nevada in January 2013, and continued at the 2014 Gathering. Icons of this culture, like Temple Grandin, Wallace McRae, Joel Nelson, John Dofflemyer, Baxter Black, Paul Zarzyski, Henry Real Bird, Amy Hale Auker, Don Edwards, The Quebe Sisters Band, Dave Stamey, Gail Steiger and many more are now in-the-can, with more footage to come. Release is planned for sometime in 2017.

In the meantime, a module from the feature-length documentary, of Joel Nelson’s reading of his poem “Equus Caballus” combined with footage from the ranch of John Dofflemyer, has been an Official Selection in the 2014 Visible Verse Film Festival at the Cinemateque in Vancouver, Canada, and in the 2015 Trail Dance Film Festival at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, Oklahoma.

It sounds as if it will be an engaging and entertaining film. Moon told me in an email that he’s “heading now into concentrated post-production editing after wrapping most of the principal photography.” Visit the website to read bios of all the people involved in the production, follow news about the project, sign up for the email newsletter, and more.

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