The poem and music are both by Los Angeles spoken word performer Rich Ferguson. This is one of the more inspired riffs on the “I’m from…” meme I’ve heard, and the directing, by Eric Smith and Ersellia Ferron, is very good. (Thanks to Khadija Anderson for the tip.)
The “I’m from…” meme, by the way, appears to have originated in a poetry workshop manual by George Ella Lyon called Where I’m From, Where Poems Come From, published in 1999 — here’s the title poem that served as a template. It was turned into a blog meme in 2005 by Fred First at the place blog Fragments from Floyd (post no longer online).
I’m not sure of the original provenance of the footage, but these videos appear to have been taped from Spanish TV. According to the text at the beginning, the movie was made on March 10, 1966. Sexton reads “Menstruation at 40” in the first and “Wanting to Die” in the second, and talks about poetry reading styles, why music is better than poetry, and why death is harder to write about than sex.
Here’s another YouTube video incorporating rare footage of the poet:
Footage of a performance by Brazilian sound-poet Márcio-André. Brazil has had a thriving avant-garde poetry culture for decades, so I thought it only fitting to pay tribute to it here on Moving Poems at the end of a week featuring Brazilian videopoetry.
Many of Márcio-André’s projects don’t require a grasp of Portuguese to appreciate, being more sound than poetry. One that I found especially intriguing is his online Dot-Matrix Symphony. The instructions say (I think) to push play and then pause for all nine videos, then when they’ve all downloaded, start them going as close to simultaneously as possible.
I have no idea what the words mean, but clearly this man did not get the memo from his North American colleagues that poems are supposed be droned from behind a podium. (See Ayres Marques Pinto’s YouTube archive for many more videos from the One Day Poetry anthology.)
Excerpts from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” introduced and recited by John Doherty for the Favorite Poem Project