Posts in Category: Performance Poetry

Mine by Vanessa Agovida and Sarah Davis

Poet: , | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

Vanessa Agovida and Sarah Davis both appear in this dramatized version of spoken-word poem they wrote concerned with domestic abuse, “created by Shannon Morrall’s Crew at Fordham University in 2014 as part of Campus MovieFest, the world’s largest student film festival.” It was nominated for Best Drama and won Best Actress from the 100 entries to the festival. Here’s the full credit list from YouTube:

Vanessa Agovida – Actress/Writer
Joe Gallagher – Actor
Fenizia Maffucci – Cinematographer
Sarah Davis – Actress/Writer
Amanda Pell – Composer
Carolyn Chadwick – Actress
Shannon Morrall – Director

Congratulations to these immensely talented students for a well-made, gripping film about a topic for which we all too often employ the wrong words and metaphors (or none at all).

Instructions to Hearing Persons Desiring a Deaf Man by Raymond Luczak

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker: ,

A fascinating visual conversation between two videos. I always enjoy Raymond Luczak’s American Sign Language performance videos, but the call-and-response here was an extra treat. In the first video, “Luczak performs one of the more famous poems from his book MUTE. This clip was the basis for Brooke Griffin’s animated short film INSTRUCTIONS TO HEARING PERSONS”:

(Also available on Vimeo)

When Brooke Griffin, an animator, asked to adapt my poem […] into a short film, I was surprised and flattered but consented. I performed the poem in ASL and gave her the original footage. I had no idea what she’d do with it, but eight months later, here it is! […]

To learn more about Brooke Griffin’s work, please check out her web site:

And check out Luczak’s website as well. Mute was published by A Midsummer Night’s Press.

First Draft by Amy Wang

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

An imaginative blend of graffiti-painting and performance poetry by Duke University student Chrislyn Choo, whose description at Vimeo reads:

Spoken word poem penned and performed by Amy Wang. Thank you for partnering with me to produce this final project for my film class, Amy!

Foresight by Roche “Roach” Du Plessis

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker: ,

A well-produced performance poetry video from Emote Record Company, “a record label dedicated entirely to the recording, distribution, promotion, and support of spoken word artists and the spoken word community.” Du Plessis is one of several artists recorded in what appears to be someone’s living room in Johannesburg. (View more at Emote’s YouTube channel.)

Scoring and Additional Recording by Paul Elliott
Edited, Mixed and Mastered by Simon Strehler
Videographers: Ett Venter, Bernard Brand

Special Thanks to Clive Thomson and the Thomson family, the greatest hosts on Earth.

It’s no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of spoken word and slam-style poetry. But the outrageous rhymes on “Orwell” sold me on this one. Plus I applaud the emphasis on audio and video production. Emote’s website,, was just launched last month, so they’re obviously just getting off the ground. I hope they go far.

Detrás de los fragmentos / After Fragments by Diana Bellessi

An English-subtitled reading by the Argentinian poet Diana Bellessi, part of a larger documentary about her. The translation’s really good and the language and landscape are both mesmerizing, I thought. Here’s the YouTube description:

Diana Bellessi reads the poem “After the fragment”, about the history of her family, originally from Italy. As she reads, the sun sets over the land they worked.
This is video is part of the documentary “Secret Garden” (www.secretgardendocumentary.wordpress.c­om).

Directed by Cristián Costantini, Diego Panich and Claudia Prado
Camera: Leandro Listorti/Diego Panich
Poem translation: Cathy Eisenhower

Diana Bellessi lee el poema “Detrás de los fragmentos”, sobe la historia de su familia, descendientes de italianos en la pampa santafesina. Mientras ella lee, el sol se pone en la tierra que trabajaron sus parientes.
Este video es parte del documental “El jardín secreto” (

Eventually you will be dead but today you are not by Steve Roggenbuck

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

One recent addition to the Links page that’s proving especially useful in expanding my horizons is a Blogspot site from Laura Theobald, a poetry MFA student at Louisiana State University: irreducible: a study on the concept and genre of poetry film. Among other things, she’s led me to take another look at Steve Roggenbuck, who must be one of the most prominent videopoets not to have been featured on Moving Poems so far, for the simple reason that I find him annoying as hell. I realize the annoyingness (which includes intentional misspelling) is all part of his sincerely ironic, internet-savvy schtick; but since most of his videos are hand-held, vlog-style spoken word pieces, they also haven’t held my interest aesthetically. This one, however, incorporates some found video of subjects other than the poet’s face. As Theobald puts it:

This poetry-video, titled “Eventually you will be dead but today you are not,” is a good example of Roggenbuck’s poetry-film aesthetic: a handheld camera is pointed by the poet directly at himself in close-up, often off-centered, partially out-of-frame, walking outdoors, “in nature”; ambient music accompanies the entirety of the film; Roggenbuck speaks directly into the camera; and the film is heavily edited, with short, quick intervals between shots. The overall tone is high-energy, full of impact, intense. In the case of this particular film, shots of the poet speaking into the camera are interlaced with “found” (appropriated) images from popular films and videos (“Independence Day,” “Air Bud,” Rebecca Black’s viral video for “Friday,”) and audio clips of motivational speakers—these images coincide with the poet’s “textual” references to popular culture: “Carlos Mencia,” “The Rock,” “Will Smith,” “Bagel Bites,” etc.

Like most of Roggenbuck’s videos, this one raises a number of questions about its terms. Roggenbuck has published three books/e-books of poetry that themselves push the boundaries of ideas about poetry by making the same sort of moves that we see in this video: by making pop-culture references (Justin Bieber), by using “internet speech,” jokes, and witticisms, and an “internet-y” conversational tone. None of these factors are, alone, groundbreaking, but, together, as we see in the video, they form an end product that somehow breaks from our traditional (or even nontraditional) understanding of poetry. In his videos, the characteristics that define Roggenbuck’s written works are intensified by the fact that Roggenbuck seems to be improvising the lines of the “poems” that he speaks into the camera. Whether or not he does in fact improvise, I don’t know for sure. I suspect (from interviews, blog posts, and the quality of the content) that some time is spent rehearsing or planning the scenes he films. Regardless, the videos seem to challenge collective notions about poetry, as Roggenbuck himself seems to recognize—specifically in his video “am i even a poet anymore?” Explicitly here Roggenbuck seems to raise a number of questions about poetry and literature and to dismiss conventional means of disseminating literature as outdated. He advocates, instead, a broader view of literary activities.

Read the rest of Theobald’s post (which also includes an analysis of a Kate Greenstreet film). Whatever else might be said about Roggenbuck, his work certainly represents a sort of apotheosis of the selfie culture. I’m sure this won’t be the last time I’ll be featuring it here.

In my kitchen in New York by Allen Ginsberg

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

Last week’s Sunday bonus post went over well, so here’s another, also a bit spiritual, for all you church-of-the-brunch types. In this one, the late Allen Ginsberg does Tai Chi in his kitchen over an audio track of Allen Ginsberg reading a poem about doing Tai Chi in his kitchen. Found via the lyrikline blog, which notes:

This clip is one of the earliest “Poetry Spots” Bob Holman made between 1986 and 1994 for the New York public television station, WYZC. Holman produced around 50 “Poetry Spots” in total.

For more of Holman’s poetry videos, see his YouTube channel.