Posts in Category: Animation

Colour Poems by Margaret Tait

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A classic poetry film by the Scottish filmmaker and poet Margaret Tait (1918-1999). It’s one of “Five Filmpoems: Curated by Susannah Ramsay” in the first issue of an online journal dedicated to “exploring and showcasing the milieux, methods and madnesses of contemporary poetry in all its emergent myriad forms,” All These New Relations. Ramsay has this to say about Colour Poems:

Margaret Tait was known as a filmpoet and experimental filmmaker. Her approach to filmmaking was remarkably similar to the ethos of the avant-garde, generally self-funded, non-conformist, uncompromising, non-commercial, with distribution and exhibition being select. I think Colour Poems (1974) depicts some of the more thought provoking images within her oeuvre. There is a wonderful poetical moment, which begins with the poppy fields where Tait questions the true essence of the image through juxtaposing shots of the Scottish oil industry and related capitalist iconography and a sequence of images relating to a return to the earth. Nature is brought into being through spoken word. The narrator willing the viewer to look beyond what can be seen, to ‘look into all that is illuminated by the light’ […] ‘the own person’s own self perceiving the light and making the music’ suggesting that we are the beholders of (our) true vision.

It is an Intensely Private Experience by Danica Depenhart

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This brilliant, author-made stop-motion animation is featured in the latest issue of TriQuarterly. “Found materials do the heavy lifting of visual argument to demonstrate how repurposed materials might reveal something about the person who finds them,” as TriQuarterly‘s video editor Sarah Minor puts it.

It’s good to see that the 152nd issue of this venerable American literary magazine continues in the pattern set since its move to the web several years ago, leading off with a short video section introduced by its own essay. The fact that they seem to have dropped the term “cinepoetry” and call everything a “video essay” now is puzzling, but may simply reflect a shift in fashion among the MFA-led American literary establishment, where it must’ve gotten a huge boost by the bestseller status of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, which includes the transcripts of several video essays from the ongoing “Situations” series filmed in collaboration with John Lucas. The rise of creative nonfiction as a component of MFA programs may also have played a role. But even outside high literary culture, the video essay has certainly become a fashionable genre on both sides of the Atlantic, even if there appears to be little agreement on what it means (that sounds familiar).

At any rate, be sure to visit Triquarterly Issue 152 to watch the other two, er, non-narrative videos by Annelyese Gelman and Spring Ulmer. To learn more about video essay as a genre, this video about essay films by film critic Kevin B. Lee, from a recent opinion piece in Sight&Sound magazine, seems like a good place to start:

Dark Place by Lucy English

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As her ambitious Book of Hours has unfolded, it’s been fascinating to watch Lucy English‘s poetry evolve and adapt to the online video medium and to the exigencies of particular film-making styles. Here’s how Stevie Ronnie, her collaborator for this film (along with composer Jim Ronnie), describes their process at Vimeo:

Lucy and I wanted to try something different as a way of kick starting the collaborative process for Dark Place. It started from a desire to work on something that was going to become part of Lucy’s Book of Hours poetry film project. Poetry films often begin with the words or footage or sound but we decided to start from a colour palette. I created a palette and sent it to Lucy and she wrote the poem from the colours. Lucy then sent me a couple of drafts of the poem and, after spending some time digesting Lucy’s words, I decided to respond to it visually. Using the colours that I found in Lucy’s poem I rendered the poem as a painting, where each mark on the canvas represents a letter in the poem. I then captured this process as a series of still images which have been strung together into the film. The soundtrack, performed by my father Jim Ronnie, was composed and added during the video editing phase as a response to the poem’s images and the words.

The Inexplicable Hardness of Things by Ian Gibbins

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Ian Gibbins calls this “a poem about a train journey, with a video to match.” It was recently featured in the Canberra-based web journal Verity La — go there for the text of the poem, as well as a current bio of the poet-filmmaker.

The Leash by Ada Limón

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After the birthing of bombs of forks and fear,
the frantic automatic weapons unleashed,
the spray of bullets into a crowd holding hands,
that brute sky opening in a slate metal maw
that swallows only the unsayable in each of us, what’s
left? Even the hidden nowhere river is poisoned
orange and acidic by a coal mine….

Ada Limón‘s searing poem was animated by Rachel Visser using “After Effects, paper, paint, sand, clay, yarn, other found objects” and the poet’s own recitation.

Visser has also animated a poem by Czesław Miłosz.

I Ate Up the Whole Thing by Ilana Simons

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Psychologist, writer, and animator Ilana Simons describes her conflicted feelings about the seemingly endless creativity of a fellow artist, Noah Saterstrom, in this wonderful, quirky blend of videopoetry and documentary set to an up-tempo track from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

This upload was the April 17 release from the Visible Poetry Project (which, incidentally, just had a screening in Beijing last Thursday — the first U.S. poetry film festival to travel abroad in a number of years). Simons’ own upload of the video is accompanied by a note that “this is a short intro to a longer documentary I’m making about Noah Saterstrom, a painter”. She has previously made documentaries about Haruki Murakami and the literary critic William Empson.

Time Rests, Exhausted, in Memory by Ayesha Raees

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A new, author-made videopoem from Pakistani filmmaker, photographer and literature student Ayesha Raees, who told me last year that she was writing her thesis on videopoetry. The Vimeo description includes a bit about the creative process by way of an acknowledgement:

Special thanks to Sue Rees and Animation projects, my beautiful friends who I photographed unknowingly yet knowingly in the Vermont autumn of 2014 (which was a ghastly time for me), a house which became a home, an existence that unconsciously saved me, and again, to Sue, who gave me a platform to create what I wished to create.

Click through to read the poem.

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