Posts By Dave Bonta

Relearning the Alphabet (excerpt) by Denise Levertov

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In this Moving Poems production, a quote from Denise Levertov’s “Relearning the Alphabet” anchors a brief epistemological meditation. Or as I’ve been describing it on Facebook, this is basically a videopoem about videopoetry. The text animation, live footage and audio were all released to the public domain by their shy and selfless creators. (The poem is of course under copyright, but I think using a short quote—the “U” section—combined with what the law would probably consider a transformative use—the videopoetic treatment—would qualify this as “fair use” under U.S. copyright law.)

Lush by Deniz Zeynep

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Deniz Zeynep supplies the text, voiceover and music for this brilliant videopoem directed and photographed by Christine Stoddard for Quail Bell Productions, with editing and graphics by David Fuchs. It began as a “photo tale” in Quail Bell Magazine.

The Cracked Jug by Shakira Morar

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There aren’t too many rules about what makes a successful poetry film, but one I tend to follow a lot when deciding what to post here is that a too-close match of imagery to text usually feels redundant and reductive, diminishing a poem rather than adding an extra dimension. But in this new film from the UK Poetry Society, somehow a teenage poet, Shakira Morar, and director Suzanne Cohen manage to break that rule, and I think it’s because the limpid quality of the text allows the illustrative imagery to attain a symbolic, even mythic weight. Watch it and judge for yourself. Here’s the description on the Poetry Society’s website:

On World Poetry Day 2017, we are delighted to present a new poetry film, produced by The Poetry Society to celebrate the overall winner of the Poetry for Peace 2016 project, chosen by Judith Palmer. The film features the winning poem by Shakira Morar, aged 17, from Headington School, Oxford, who reads the poem in the film, in English, while the Arabic translation by Manal Nakli appears as subtitles. The poem is inspired by a 4,000 year-old Mesopotamian jug in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and the film is directed by Suzanne Cohen.

‘Poetry for Peace, 2016’ is part of the award winning, Arts Council-funded ‘Writing Mesopotamia’ collaboration between Oxford poet Jenny Lewis and the distinguished Iraqi poet Adnan al-Sayegh aimed at building bridges between English and Arabic-speaking communities. It involved Adnan and Jenny working with the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, The Poetry Society and more than sixty 11-17 year olds from four Oxford schools – Oxford Spires Academy, the Sudanese Saturday School, Headington School and Cherwell School – on themes of heritage and peace to produce poems for a competition judged by the poets.

Read a news story about the poem, film and winner Shakira over at the Oxford Mail.

Explore more of our poetry films on our Poetry to Watch page.

New Orleans by Matt Dennison

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This is Have Made It, a 2013 film by Michael Dickes using a text by Matt Dennison. It’s kind of a videopoem-music video hybrid, with Dickes’ music taking central stage half-way through.

Have Made It appears in the most recent issue of Gnarled Oak, an online literary magazine distinguished by, among other things, its willingness to include previously published/uploaded poetry videos. Their next issue is open for submissions through March 31.

Alien Babies by Gary Barwin

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There’s more than meets the eye to this delightfully unhinged new videopoem by the Canadian writer, multimedia artist and composer Gary Barwin. The YouTube description notes that the text is from his forthcoming collection No TV for Woodpeckers.

TWIN by Brendan Bonsack

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A new videopoem from Brendan Bonsack, who explained via email that

This one grew, organically if you like, from a short piece of discarded footage from another project.
Different from adapting a “page poem” to film, with this the music and poetry was written to follow the visuals.

If you still want the “page poem” experience, click through to Vimeo to read the text.

Exercise in the Face of Divorce by David Campos

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California poet David Campos calls this “A narrative video poem about utilizing exercise to deal with the pain of divorce.” It was the first example of contemporary videopoetry examined by Ruben Quesada in his article in Ploughshares last week. As the quotes in the article make clear, however, Campos prefers to think of his work as part of the film tradition, and describes his composition process as follows:

Sound can carry an image…. In “Exercise in the Face of Divorce,” I focused on capturing sound in the shots—this enhanced the poem. All the film criticism I’ve read came into play while shooting and editing the video. I framed and composed shots from the beginning to add meaning. I was conscious of the color while shooting and editing. I edited the footage down to their essential parts. Most importantly, I added sound from the shots themselves. These projects are not “video poems.” They’re short films and they must be treated this way. It is why I use a story board and a rough script from the beginning. The same care I would exhibit in creating a poem on the page must be taken through its production into a film.

Read the rest of the article, if you haven’t already, and check out more of Campos’ work on Vimeo.