Posts in Category: Spoken Word

IO game over by Sergio Garau

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This videopoem by Angelo Saccu, performed by Sergio Garau to music by Antonio Marra, betrays influences from all over: it’s equal parts concert video, sound poem and concrete/kinetic-text poem. I ran the YouTube description through Google Translate:

The violent encounter between political identities, economic, cultural, language here is staged through an ironic game of opposites. The ‘I’, translated into machine language 1 0 (zero), cut into pieces for binary digital misunderstood as grotesque chaos of contradictory slogans of contemporary power, explodes in a syncopated rhythm outside of himself. For tris doubly impossible breaks down the end of his world.

The Poem of the Spanish Poet by Mark Strand

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The latest release from Motionpoems, and the first of theirs, I think, to mix in some live footage of the poet alongside the animation (which is by Juan Delcan, who was responsible for the most popular of the Billy Collins animations, “The Dead.”). The text appears in Mark Strand’s latest book, Almost Invisible, which is a collection of prose pieces; the poem part of this video is the only lyric poem in the book.

By the way, if you join the Motionpoems free monthly email list, you get additional content which is not included on the website for some reason. This month’s installment expanded on the making of the video, and included some thoughts by Delcan and Strand:

For this motionpoem, filmmaker Juan Delcan shot live video of Mark Strand in his New York City apartment. He combined that video with drawings inspired by those of the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca. “I shot [Mark Strand] in 30 minutes and animated the piece in one afternoon,” Delcan told us. “Sometimes not having time to over-think it is the best.”

Delcan also spent time thinking about the purpose of the relatively new genre of poetry films. “I know there are a lot of purists that think that animating poetry is redundant and stops the reader from picturing its words in their own minds, and that the poem should be left alone. And in a lot of cases they may very well be right. But in the particular case of the poems I’ve worked on I feel they retrofeed each other, bringing it to a different genre.”

In response to the motionpoem, poet Mark Strand told us, “I liked the film’s simplicity, which is very much in keeping with the poem, or so it seems to me.”

Daughter and two other poems by Emily Hinshelwood

“This is an animation of my poem Daughter which I wrote after visiting the Old Point pub near Angle in Pembrokeshire,” writes Welsh poet and playwright Emily Hinshelwood in the description at Vimeo.

As a bonus, here’s Hinshelwood reading two poems for, “Lady Cave Anticline” and “And whan all else fails.” The audio quality isn’t great, but her readings make up for it. As a bit of a geology geek, I especially like the first.

Cephalo by Leah Silvieus

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A live-reading-with-video – videopoem hybrid, part of an interesting (and sadly under-watched) series on YouTube by Homestead MediaJive TV called “Poets of the Unreeled,” featuring poets from the Miami area. Leah Silvieus is an MFA candidate at the University of Miami.

V. by Tony Harrison

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An epic film-poem produced by the U.K.’s Channel 4 in 1987, the airing of which was apparently a bit of a cultural watershed in Thatcherite Britain. Let me start by quoting the Wikipedia entry on Tony Harrison:

His best-known work is the long poem V. (1985), written during the miners’ strike of 1984-85, and describing a trip to see his parents’ grave in a Leeds cemetery “now littered with beer cans and vandalised by obscene graffiti”. The title has several possible interpretations: victory, versus, verse etc. Proposals to screen a filmed version of V. by Channel 4 in October 1987 drew howls of outrage from the tabloid press, some broadsheet journalists, and MPs, apparently concerned about the effects its “torrents of obscene language” and “streams of four-letter filth” would have on the nation’s youth. Indeed, an Early Day Motion entitled “Television Obscenity” was proposed on 27 October 1987 by a group of Conservative MPs, who condemned Channel 4 and the Independent Broadcasting Authority. The motion was opposed by a single MP, Mr. Norman Buchan, who suggested that MPs had either failed to read or failed to understand (V.). The broadcast went ahead, and the brouhaha settled quickly after enough column inches had been written about the broadcast and reaction to the broadcast. Gerald Howarth said that Harrison was “Probably another bolshie poet wishing to impose his frustrations on the rest of us”. When told of this, Harrison retorted that Howarth was “Probably another idiot MP wishing to impose his intellectual limitations on the rest of us”. Thom Yorke, the frontman and lyricist of Radiohead, considers Harrison as one of his heroes, describing V as both “straightforward and wonderful”.

The comments at YouTube convey some of the emotions this stirred in the British public. I asked the friend who originally shared the link with me to try to describe the impact that the broadcast had on her. Here’s what she wrote:

When Tony Harrison’s V was eventually broadcast on British television, to view it seemed like a devotional act. Or certainly to me who felt an outsider both for loving poetry and for coming from a conservative background and holding grimly, determinedly, to socialist ideals — and this during the violent eviscerations of the Thatcher years. Here was a poet, a long-form poem, a political poem far beyond the merely polemical. A poem that, in its planned presentation on the dominant medium of the time, domestic television, had the political, intellectual and cultural “arbiters” howling with rage and scorn. I still remember the incantation of regional vowels (unusual then, though not now) as the poet paced the snow of the bleak cemetery. A spell-binding of so many disparates — class and culture, poetry and popularity, word and image. It was, I remember, a promise and an affirmation.

The British Council’s Literature website describes Tony Harrison as “Britain’s leading film and theatre poet.”

His films using verse narrative include v, about vandalism, broadcast by Channel 4 television in 1987 and winner of a Royal Television Society Award; Black Daisies for the Bride, winner of the Prix Italia in 1994; and The Blasphemers’ Banquet, screened by the BBC in 1989, an attack on censorship inspired by the Salman Rushdie affair. He co-directed A Maybe Day in Kazakhstan for Channel 4 in 1994 and directed, wrote and narrated The Shadow of Hiroshima, screened by Channel 4 in 1995 on the 50th anniversary of the dropping of the first atom bomb. The published text, The Shadow of Hiroshima and Other Film/Poems (1995), won the Heinemann Award in 1996. He wrote and directed his first feature film Prometheus in 1998.

Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare

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Monika Lind directs a shared reading/dramatization of the sonnet by five young actresses: Sascha Alexander, Katherine DuBois, Lee Hanson, Adrienne Marquand, and Daniele Watts.

Poetry in Motion by Brandon Wint

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Don’t be put off by the title: Craig Allen Conoley, the director, told me, “We chose to use the cliche title in an ironic manner… we wanted to subvert the cliche!” If you watch this through till the end, that should become abundantly clear.

This was screened at Visible Verse 2011 and the 2011 Ottawa International Film Festival. For the full credits, see the page at Vimeo, which also includes this description:

The short film/music video provides a visceral account of a poet’s mind/body relationship, mediated through his prose and the language of story. Shot in the subways and busy streets of Montreal, the video was designed to subvert a voyeuristic and often conforming societal gaze by placing Brandon’s point of view in direct contest with everyday motion and its marriage to the status-quo. The video features Claude Munson on guitar.

For more about the Ottawa-based spoken word artist, writer and singer Brandon Wint, see the bio on his website.