Marshallese poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner‘s impassioned poem about climate change in a video from CNN, part of their correspondent John D. Sutter’s two degrees series. It aired in late June. Jonathan “jot” Reyes, the creative director of video development at CNN, included half a minute of motion graphics in a film that otherwise hews closely to the standard TV formula for poetry: shots of the poet alternating with a collage of complementary footage, more or less illustrative of the text. For a dash of irony, you can watch this on the CNN website, where it’s preceded by an automobile ad. But a longer, interactive web feature on Sutter’s visit to the Marshall Islands also includes the video poem (which is the term he uses for it), along with some prefatory text:
During my brief time in the islands, I met people like Angie [Hepisus] who are witnessing climate change and who are trying to do what’s best for themselves and their families. By sharing their stories, they hope the rest of us might listen — might realize our actions have consequences for places we’ll never see, for people we’ll never meet. I also had the pleasure of meeting Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, a young mother and poet who has emerged as one of the country’s pre-eminent storytellers. A teacher at the College of the Marshall Islands, the 27-year-old also studies the oral stories that form the fabric of her nation and culture.
The article continues with two of Jetnil-Kijiner’s stories; click through for those. As Sutter points out, she spoke at the UN last fall, reading a different poem which was also made available as a video.
Incidentally, this isn’t jot Reyes’ first foray into videopoetry. I’ll be sharing another of his creations soon.
One of the more ingenious performance poetry videos I’ve seen. Here are the details from the Vimeo description:
In fond memory of Andy Parkinson who wrote and performed the poem.
Music by Matthew Marks
Part of Insight In Mind produced by Swings and Roundabouts with a Mind Millennium Award and previously seen on Channel 4
Initiated and produced by Penny Arnold
Directed by Daniel Saul 2002
Insight in Mind is a 27-minute video containing 14 poetic pieces, of which this was one.
‘Insight In Mind’ vividly demonstrates how it feels to experience highs and lows, through the use of poetry, visual imagery, photography, animation and music; taking the viewer on an emotional and informative journey.
The 14 poetic pieces are interwoven with the voices of survivors and carers, talking openly about their experiences, married with artworks contributed from mental health survivors.
Throughout the film, with the exception of two performers, everyone you see or hear has personal experience of bipolar disorder or depression, or are carers for people who have these experiences. This includes the recorded voice-overs which were edited together from interviews with survivors and carers. Alongside these spoken sections of the film are over 200 artworks by survivors of bipolar disorder or depression. The poems and artworks were selected from material contributed during the research undertaken by ‘Swings and Roundabouts’.
Andy Parkinson, AKA Andy Postman, was one of the five members of Swings and Roundabouts, and died in 2008. There’s a tribute page to him on the same website. It begins:
Andy Parkinson, also known to many as Andy Postman sadly passed away aged 53 in October 2008 from a sudden heart attack, a condition that runs in his family.
Andy made an incredible contribution to Insight in Mind. He was an inspiration to us during the planning and production of the film, with his stream of infectious and elaborate ideas. He wrote 4 (and adapted another) of the poems in the film and conceived many of the ideas for the filming of 2 of the poems, Mutter and ABC which begin and end Insight in Mind. Andy put an extraordinary amount of careful consideration into the construction of these pieces.
Juan Felipe Herrera is the author of more than 20 books of poetry, novels for young adults and collections for children, most recently “Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes.” He is the son of migrant workers from Mexico, and today he becomes the first Latino to serve as poet laureate of the United States. Jeffrey Brown travels to the poet’s home in California’s San Joaquin Valley.
This spoken-word film featuring the Botswana poet TJ Dema was directed, filmed, and edited by Masahiro Sugano of Studio Revolt in Phnom Penh. Click through to Vimeo for the complete credits, as well as the text of the poem and a bio of the poet. Sugano left the following note there as a comment:
TJ Dema is a renown poet from Botswana. Her poetry style would be called “spoken word” in the US. But speaking poetry out loud is how poetry has always been done in her homeland. So this is not a “street” or “urban” version of published words. This is poetry as it should be in Botswana. I had the great honor to get acquainted with this talented woman while traveling with Kosal Khiev (Cambodian Son) for London 2012 Cultural Olympiad in the UK. During her show at the Shakespeare museum, she told a few hilarious episodes about how poets are treated and represented in Botswana. I hope to share that video someday soon with you. Once again it is a great honor to present this video to you all. The production was done all in Cambodia (literally “in house” production) when she came to visit in March of 2015. Oh, and we filmed another piece called “Neon Poem” while TJ was here. Stay tuned. Like “Studio Revolt” on the Facebook page. You will be notified of the next release.
— Masahiro Sugano
Director Alan Fentiman worked with poet Tony Williams to produce a documentary on the relationship between dog-walking and writing, concluding with a poem that grew out of the film-making process. I first saw Roam to Write at the 2013 Filmpoem Festival in Dunbar, Scotland, and when I got back to the States I shared the link with some friends who study the literature of place but inexplicably forgot to share it here. It was brought back to mind by a new video released by the same two guys, a film of a pub discussion about poetry film, which I posted at Moving Poems Magazine on Sunday.
“Roam to Write” is a short documentary film which I filmed, edited and produced in Alnwick Northumberland. The 15 minute film follows poet Tony Williams as he walks the same route over 5 days. Each day Tony addresses different aspects of the creative relationship between walking and writing.
I especially love working with artists and writers, and documenting their creative process. I want the audience to gain an understanding of how ideas develop and emerge through a piece of work. Working with Tony was a especially rewarding as we developed the idea for the film over many months. It allowed me time to absorb and reflect on Tony’s writing process and work out ways of showing this through film.
During filming Tony worked on a piece of poetry called “But tell me, who are they, these Travellers” which he performs at the end of the film. This poem reflects on his earlier observations about writing and walking.
I shot the the film over a week with a Panasonic AF101, a steadicam and a GH2. We developed the initial ideas during fireside discussions at The Tanners pub in Alnwick. Tony then wrote the script and together we developed the storyboard over egg and chip lunches and the odd evening pint. After logging the footage in Adobe Prelude, Tony sat with me throughout the editing process.
Williams expanded his thoughts into an open-access journal article, “The Writer Walking the Dog: Creative Writing Practice and Everyday Life.” Here’s the abstract:
Creative writing happens in and alongside the writer’s everyday life, but little attention has been paid to the relationship between the two and the contribution made by everyday activities in enabling and shaping creative practice. The work of the anthropologist Tim Ingold supports the argument that creative writing research must consider the bodily lived experience of the writer in order fully to understand and develop creative practice. Dog-walking is one activity which shapes my own creative practice, both by its influence on my social and cultural identity and by providing a time and space for specific acts instrumental to the writing process to occur. The complex socio-cultural context of rural dog-walking may be examined both through critical reflection and creative work. The use of dog-walking for reflection and unconscious creative thought is considered in relation to Romantic models of writing and walking through landscape. While dog-walking is a specific activity with its own peculiarities, the study provides a case study for creative writers to use in developing their own practice in relation to other everyday activities from running and swimming to shopping, gardening and washing up.
Mary Ann Walsh shines as a bartender with attitude in this spoken-word interpretation of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 58. Directed by Olivier Bertin for The Sonnet Project, where the film’s page notes the poem’s intended subject: “an emotionally enslaved lover, the object of his affections behaving wantonly while he quietly suffers, unquestioning.” But the best thing about the Sonnet Project films I’ve watched so far is the freedom with which the directors have reinterpreted the texts.
And of course the specific New York location always co-stars in the film. This time it’s the White Horse Tavern in Manhattan. As the webpage puts it,
The White Horse is perhaps most famous as the place where Dylan Thomas drank heavily, returned to the Chelsea Hotel, became ill, and died a few days later of unrelated causes. Other famous patrons include James Baldwin, Bob Dylan, Richard Farina, Norman Mailer, Jim Morrison, Delmore Schwartz, Hunter S. Thompson, and Mary Travers.
Another of the White Horse’s famous patrons is Jack Kerouac, who was bounced from the establishment more than once. Because of this someone scrawled on the bathroom wall: “JACK GO HOME!” At that time, Kerouac was staying in an apartment in the building located on the northwest corner of West 11th St.
About the same time, the White Horse was a gathering-place for labor members and organizers and socialists, as well. The Catholic Workers hung out here and the idea for the Village Voice was discussed here. The Village Voice original offices were within blocks of the White Horse. Much of the content was discussed here by the editors, a practice we at NYSX believe would be much approved by W. Shakespeare.
When is a sound poem a found poem? When it’s Marie Osmond Explains Dadaism with Auto-Subtitles, one of the latest uploads by UK videopoet Ross Sutherland as past of his 30 Videos/30 Poems project for the Poetry School. He’s been doing some really interesting stuff with remix, swapping in his own voice-overs for existing videos, but in this case all he’s done is share the results of turning on the auto-subtitling function for a YouTube video of Marie Osmund explaining Dada and reciting Hugo Ball‘s “Karawane.” The software’s “misreadings” are at times wonderfully apropos. And then there’s Marie, in her yellow bathrobe and 80s hair… I don’t think I’ve gotten this much joy from a web video since Cat Wearing A Shark Costume Cleans The Kitchen On A Roomba.
Now, you may be saying to yourself, why in the heck was Marie Osmond holding forth on Dada and and sound poetry? It turns out she was a regular host of the TV show Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in its 2nd series, which ran from 1982-86 on the American ABC Network. The TV show derived from a long-running syndicated feature in American newspapers—kind of the original “news of the weird.” According to the Wikipedia article,
Character actor Jack Palance hosted the popular series throughout its run, while three different co-hosts appeared from season to season, including Palance’s daughter, Holly Palance, actress Catherine Shirriff, and singer Marie Osmond. The 1980s series reran on the Sci-fi Channel (UK) and Sci-fi Channel (US) during the 1990s.
Six of the segments hosted by Osmond have been uploaded to YouTube, including another one about a poet, Renée Vivien. I’m not sure who the director was for this particular show (which apparently aired on 29 September 1985), but it didn’t go unnoticed. According to a post at Dangerous Minds,
In 1993, Rough Trade records put out Lipstick Traces, a “soundtrack” to the book by Greil Marcus. It’s one of my favorite CDs of all time, with tracks by The Slits, Essential Logic, The Raincoats, The Mekons, Buzzcocks, The Gang of Four, Jonathan Richmond and the Modern Lovers, Situationist philosopher Guy Debord and others. It’s an amazing collection, but one track in particular stands out from the rest, a recitation by none other than Marie Osmond, of Dada poet Hugo Ball’s nonsensical gibberish piece from 1916, “Karawane.”
The post goes on to quote the liner notes from Lipstick Traces:
As host of a special (Ripley’s Believe It or Not) show on sound poetry, Osmond was asked by the producer to recite only the first line of Ball’s work; incensed at being thought too dumb for art, she memorized the lot and delivered it whole in a rare “glimpse of freedom.”
Great upload and interesting video, but Ripley didn’t appear to get their dada facts quite right…
‘Karawane’ was performed and written by Hugo Ball, and was also performed in 1916 at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich as the video says. But his costume for that show was a kind of ‘Cubist’ tube-esque costume made from different coloured sheets. It can be easily found in images online.
The ’13’ costume discussed in the video was worn by Theo Van Doesburg, not Hugo Ball, in 1922 when he performed ‘Does At Mid-Lent’ at the Bauhaus.
This info is from the book ‘Dada’ edited by Rudolf Kuenzli. As a product of its time, though, this clip is fascinating.
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that this is not quite the strangest video of “Karawane” on the web. That honor belongs to Lucas Battich’s binary code translation. Still, kudos to Ross Sutherland for recognizing the re-Dadaifying potential of YouTube auto-subtitling.