Posts in Category: Book trailers

sex & violence #2 | honey machine by Kristy Bowen

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

It’s always great to see a poet making her own book trailers — I mean, it’s even better to see poetry presses doing that for their poets, but for most, that’s not part of the deal, I guess. What’s cool about Kristy Bowen is that she’s also a publisher, running the chapbook press Dancing Girl Press, and skills she’s honed there as an artist and graphic designer stand her in very good stead on her first foray into videopoetry production. Let me just paste in the YouTube description:

sex & violence
by Kristy Bowen
(Black Lawrence Press, 2020)
https://blacklawrencepress.com/books/

A writer and book artist working in both text and image, Kristy Bowen is the author of a number of chapbook, zine, and artists book projects, as well as several full-length collections of poetry/prose/hybrid work, including the recent salvage (Black Lawrence Press, 2016), major characters in minor films (Sundress Publications, 2015) and girl show (Black Lawrence, 2014). She lives in Chicago, where she runs dancing girl press & studio

This is the second of three videos so far that Kristy has made based on excerpts from sex & violence; you can watch them all on her YouTube channel. As she noted in her blog, for honey machine, “I’ve been playing a bit more with public domain footage and my own words..this time, a little more text oriented and without the distraction of my own voice.”

Plasticpoems by Fiona Tinwei Lam

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker: ,

A brilliant concrete videopoem directed and produced by Canadian poet Fiona Tinwei Lam with animation by Nhat Truong and sound design by Tinjun Niu. The Vimeo description notes that

This short animated video depicts two concrete/visual poems by poet Fiona Tinwei Lam from her collection of poems Odes & Laments about marine plastic pollution.

It won the Judges’ Award for Best Poetry Video, REELpoetry Houston 2020, which is how I knew about it: I was one of those judges.

Scarcely Gilded by Lina Ramona Vitkauskas

A cinepoem by Lithuanian-Canadian-American poet Lina Ramona Vitkauskas, who notes that the text is

From a new poetry collection, “Between Plague & Kleptocracy: Invented Poetic Creations & Conversations of Seva & Bill”, in which I cross-reference poems between Vsevolod Nekrasov & Bill Knott and serve as medium and “translator” of their posthumous conversations / invented collaborations. The poems are written in the voice / tone / style of both Nekrasov & Knott, featuring borrowed lines and found poems within those lines. The poems are the transcripts of their thoughts across astral planes: what they would perhaps discuss in this perilous time in history: of pandemic, of widespread injustice, forced isolation, and of finding ourselves with a traitorous snake oil salesman / neo-Soviet puppet in our WH.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Gil Scott-Heron

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

This prophetic poem by the late, great Gil Scott-Heron has been on my mind a lot lately. I went to see if anyone had ever made a decent video for it, and found this on YouTube (though I subsequently swapped in the production company’s own upload from Vimeo). It was produced in 2001 by Peter Collingridge and directed by Julian House as a video trailer for Scott-Heron’s collected lyrics and poems, Now and Then (Canongate Books). A link in the YouTube description took me to Collingridge’s Apt Studio, a British “digital consultancy to publishers,” where I found a page for the film, as well as the original Flash version, still live:

Apt MD Peter Collingridge worked at Canongate Books from 1997-2001. Whilst there he wrote a business plan for the Scottish Arts Council, titled “Pop Promos For Books”. The plan was to commission his film-maker friends to make pop video-length films inspired by books, and to host these films on the Canongate website, attracting more visitors.

One of the first films was for “Now and Then”, a collection of Gil Scott-Heron’s poems which Peter was editing at the time. There was only one option as to which poem to chose – Gil’s masterpiece, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

He teamed up with Julian House at Intro to make this promo, which has been seen over 750,000 times. The film uses archival images from Getty, and was launched in 2001.

The track “The Revolution Has Not Been Televised” has been edited for the promo.

Who knew that the idea of making video trailers for books of poetry pre-dated the creation of YouTube by at least five years! There’s also still a page for the video at the Intro website, which offers a reminder of how cutting-edge Flash animation was at the time:

The Intro moving image team has created a Flash movie to promote a book about music visionary Gil Scott Heron. The film, made entirely in Flash, is a dynamic interpretation of one of Gil’s most famous songs, ‘The Revolution Will Not be Televised.’ It features fragments of lyrics and images from the American 1970s mediascape. The promo was shortlisted at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, for best animation.

Do listen to the complete track, in all its glory, on the Ace Records YouTube channel.

I also found this snippet of an interview with Gill where he explains, very calmly and patiently, what he meant by his famous dictum:

“Shot by Skip Blumberg. Watch the full, unedited interview at Media Burn Archive.” This is raw footage for a TV series called The 90’s. The true revolution may not be televised, but fortunately Gil Scott-Heron was. Such a brilliant and original spoken-word innovator.

The Eyes Have Woods by Shanna Compton

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

This author-made filmpoem adapts a text from Shanna Compton‘s new collection (Creature Sounds Fade), for which it serves as a trailer. Compton notes that although all readings and launch events have been canceled in response to the pandemic, the book is still scheduled for release by late summer or early fall, and is now available for preorder from Black Lawrence Press.

“The Eyes Have Woods” originally appeared in American Poetry Review.

Post updated 21 May to correct launch information.

There Are Bullets in This Poem by Jan Bottiglieri, Chris Green, cin salach, and Tony Trigilio

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.

When You Are Quiet by Laura Theobold

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

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.