Posts in Category: Performance Poetry

application for the position of abdelhalim hafez’s girl by Safia Elhillo

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Motionpoems’ latest poetry film is directed by Donna Lamar using a poem from Safia Elhillo‘s collection January Children. The Sudanese-American poet stars in the film.

1700% Project: Mistaken for Muslim by Anida Yoeu Ali

Made seven years ago, this collaboration between Cambodian-American performance artist and poet Anida Yoeu Ali and Japanese-American filmmaker Masahiro Sugano is, sadly, more relevant than ever, with hate crimes against Muslims (and those erroneously assumed to be Muslim) escalating in the U.S. under an administration that has embraced a white Christian supremacist ideology. This was the Film of the Month for January at Poetryfilmkanal. See the 1700% Project website for much more information about the film, including bios of the collaborators and the text of the poem, a cento based on hate crimes committed shortly after 9/11. The video description reads:

In this video, narratives collide with music, poetry and politics to create a complex and layered experience. A poet, dancer, angel, prisoner converge with members of the Muslim community to speak, deflect, and intervene against racial profiling and hate crimes. This convergence exemplifies a spirit of defiance and resistance from communities of people who refuse to end in violence.

This spoken word video is a collaboration between artist Anida Yoeu Ali and filmmaker Masahiro Sugano with over 50 diverse volunteers, participants and community members in the Chicagoland area. It is part of an ongoing project that engages art as a form of intervention against the racial profiling of Muslims in a post 9/11 era. The larger project titled “The 1700% Project” uses a multi-faceted artistic approach to educate the wider public about the diversity within the Muslim community. The number 1700% refers to the exponential percentage increase of hate crimes against Arabs, Muslims and those perceived to be Arab or Muslim since the events of September 11, 2001.

As the article in Poetryfilmkanal notes, the lack of didacticism makes this film more powerful and provocative than most political poetry. Ali says in her artist’s statement:

The project acknowledges that politically driven works are complex and layered thus often requiring a multitude of ways for expression and encounter. … My work continues to investigate the residual stain of performance and how the live body completes the experience for both audience and performer. Performing narratives is an act of social storytelling that contributes to collective healing. For me, performance and storytelling become ways of bridging the interior and exterior space of self as well as initiate critical dialogues between communities and institutions.

The Dreamer of Samuel Vale House by Antony Owen

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I have Googled the earth and I’m tired of paradise. This city is home. I am its key and broken door.

Coventry-based poet Antony Owen performs his poem in this 2015 film by Adam Steiner (director), Brian Harley (camera and editing) and Alan van Widjgerden (sound), which kicked off a poetry-film project spearheaded by Steiner called Disappear Here. Last year they raised enough money from a crowdfunding campaign to produce a whole series of films exploring the Modernist/Brutalist superstructure of Coventry Ringroad: 27 in all, from nine writers and nine filmmakers. The launch screening is on March 16, and although it’s free, registration is required.

This sounds like a truly commendable use of film to bring the perspectives of poets and artists to bear on pressing local issues (which are also global issues, capitalism being what it is). Here’s a blog post from last year that explains what they hoped to accomplish:

The challenge of Disappear Here is to bring together artists of different stripes, some more experienced practitioners, others up and coming and hungry; native Coventrians and people who might be coming to the city for the first time and seeing it with fresh eyes; expressing the human aspect of what is so commonly seen as an inhuman structure, another one of HRH Charles’ “concrete monstrosities” – by way of contrast, witness the faux-Kensington banality of his ideal housing estate, Poundbury – but it is also fair to say that few near-monolithic concrete structures inspire such intense feelings of love and loathing.

But there is a positivity to the project. As much as it is anything, Coventry Ringroad is an archetype of reinvention. Each time the same A4053 road, but every journey around it different. It is the eye through which Coventry is (notoriously) seen, and can be seen, from above and below; a looping horizon where tarmac sea and brilliant blue sky meet and form a sinew of shuffling perspective. […]

Coventry is an ex-working-class city, chock-full with post-industrial grit from crumbling fire of red brick, after many of its 70s, 80s and 90s industries successively closed down. As such, the city has become an affordable and welcoming haven for artists with a burgeoning community of creative and socially-conscious practitioners – there is a story to be told there. I think the people and the city’s physical attitudes speak to this, guarded but protective. As both defensive wall and encircling stranglehold – the ringroad echoes this taut insularity, but also provides us with a blank canvas for reimagining public space. I think this push/pull reflex makes for an interesting tension as to how we define a city and its search for its centre.

Read the rest. According to the Disappear Here Facebook page, there are plans to tour the films across the UK after the premiere in Coventry.

Estátuas / Statues by Conceição Lima

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Another compelling short videopoem from Conceição Lima (poem, reading) and David Shook (video, English translation) filmed in Lima’s native São Tomé and Príncipe last month. The back-flipping children in the opening shot are a perfect counterpoise to the still statues in the succeeding shot, all in service to the text’s central paradox. Are the proverbial “feet of clay” truly a liability, or perhaps instead a sign of groundedness?

The Vimeo description notes that the poem appears in the collection O País de Akendenguê, and that Shook is in São Tomé on a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship. I’m not sure how much NEA money has been spent on poetry films over the years, but I’m guessing very, very little.

Archipelago by Conceição Lima

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Moving Poems’ first poet from São Tomé and Príncipe, Conceição Lima, is featured in this ultra-short but effective video by David Shook filmed in São Tomé earlier this month. The poem is from her second collection, A Dolorosa Raiz de Micondó, and if its brevity left you hungry for more, check out the four additional poems Shook translated for World Literature Today. There are also three of Lima’s poems in translation by Amanda Hopkinson at Words Without Borders.

Firearms by Nikkita Oliver

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Another powerful blend of videopoetry and performance poetry video, today from poet Nikkita Oliver and filmmaker Bryan Tucker. Here’s the Vimeo description:

If the gun that was used to murder Trayvon Martin could talk, what would it say?

Firearms was written by Nikkita Oliver – a Seattle-based creative, teaching artist, and anti-racist organizer. Nikkita is an attorney and holds a Masters of Education from the University of Washington.

Written & Performed By: Nikkita Oliver
Directed, Filmed & Edited By: Bryan Tucker
Produced By: Bryan Tucker & Nikkita Oliver
Audio Recording: Tomi Adewale
Protest Photos by Naomi Ishisaka {naomiishisaka.com}
Special Thanks: Washington Hall, Robin Rojas, Brian Lee, Aselefech & Zariya, Niki Amarantides
Music: “The Way Home” by Tony Anderson (licensed via The Music Bed)

H/t: “New Video Poem by Nikkita Oliver Imagines Trayvon Martin Shooting from Gun’s Perspective

Countdown by Prufrock Shadowrunner

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You would think a politically minded poetic countdown from 100 might get a little draggy after a while. But you would be wrong. This collaboration between Prufrock Shadowrunner (poem, performance) and Rob Viscardis (video, music) blows me away. It was an official selection for the Reframe International Film Festival 2016 and the 2016 ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival International Competition.

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