This is Semi-Automatic Pantoum, directed by Matt Mullins, made to accompany the collection Semi-Automatic Pantoums: A Collaboration on Gun Violence [PDF] by the Chicago-based collective Poetic Justice League. According to their origin story,
In 2018, in the season of Donald Trump and longing for another time, Chris Green was driving down a Chicago road to see his poetic super heroes Jan Bottiglieri, cin salach, and Tony Trigilio. He proposed The Poetic Justice League, a group for poetic non-silence on the big issues of the day. They dreamed up PJL to unfold group poems, to wake up poets and readers to a sense of newborn responsibility. [links added]
The pantoum is one of those forms with repeating lines, which makes it a good if macabre fit for the subject of semi-automatic weapons and the semi-automatic reactions of various political factions to the American epidemic of mass shootings. Matt Mullins added some lines of his own to the video, but otherwise the text is the same as “There Are Bullets in This Poem” (page 5 of the collection). As Matt said in an email on Monday,
It’s intensely disturbing that these horrific mass shooting events just won’t stop happening (I write you this the morning after we realize that families can’t even go to a food festival without being murdered by someone with an assault rifle.) American gun violence has gone far beyond insanity, and yet, as we all know, the politicians in the palm of the NRA will do nothing.
To write your own semi-automatic pantoum, see the collective’s instructions for teachers.
The Poetic Justice League hopes that high school students form their own PJL chapters! You will receive a PJL hat and will be included in all publishing and promotional ventures . . . and we will continue to include you in all future PJL political poetry adventures.
The only requirement is that students contribute their own collaborative political poems modeled after PJL projects. For now, we’re seeking semi-automatic pantoums–we will post the pantoums on our site.
This quietly terrifying 8mm short by Andrew Theodore Balasia is a video trailer for Laura Theobald‘s new book, What My Hair Says About You, from Sad Spell Press. According the publisher’s description,
These poems break down the self—plucking the sun out of the sky, throwing bones at the void—while courting issues of identity, gender, sex, love, and loss in biting, blunt vernacular. What My Hair Says About You is a jilting confessional debut, with an ear pressed to a flowery, bone-littered floor.
This is the latest in a series of videos by Helen Dewbery and Chaucer Cameron for collections of poetry from Nine Arches Press, which just celebrated its tenth birthday with the publication of the book excerpted here: What Are You After? by Josephine Corcoran. (It’s a lovely collection, incidentally; I just bought a copy and began reading it yesterday. Always good to support a fellow blogger and late bloomer!)
Bellingham, Washington-based poet Susan J. Erickson reads a poem from her 2016 collection Lauren Bacall Shares a Limousine in this film by poet and editor Ellie A. Rogers. The soundtrack is by Louis McLaughlin.
Rogers has just blogged about making the film:
Susan J. Erickson has red cowboy boots and impeccable diction. She’s a poet hero of mine who I met back in the land of Douglas fir, though we’re both ladies of the 10,000 lakes.
Sue won the Brick Road Poetry Press prize last year, and her book, Lauren Bacall Shares a Limousine, is out now. Her collection of lady persona poems is tonally diverse, smart, and powerful.
Sue asked me to make a book trailer for her. We chose to work with her poem “Rapunzel Brings Her Women’s Studies Class to the Tower” partially because I now live near a giant bell tower and tracts of forest, but mostly because this poem is a linchpin poem. Rapunzel is trying to “relinquish the rib of victimhood.” She pushes back against the story we tell about her. She tells her class “your voices are searchlights that can sweep the horizon to reveal fault lines and illuminate passage.” What a good lesson.
New Orleans-based poet Carolyn Hembree and director John Lavin (Bloodrush Films) have collaborated on a videopoem that really raises the bar for poetry book trailers. The book, Rigging a Chevy into a Time Machine and Other Ways to Escape a Plague (Trio House Press, 2016), has already won two awards as a manuscript: the 2015 Trio Award, selected by Neil Shepard, and the 2015 Marsh Hawk Press Rochelle Ratner Memorial Award, selected by Stephanie Strickland. The trailer is equally impressive, featuring Hembree’s dramatic, incantatory voiceover and a spellbinding blend of unsettling images. As beer writers like to say about exceptionally tasty brews, this is very moreish. And just a bit inebriating.