Back in 2012, we held our first-ever event. It was at St Kevins Arcade, overlooking the city. We sat on worn wooden chairs and talked about why we hadn’t left Auckland. Tiny Ruins sang, and Hera Lindsay Bird read from a crumpled piece of paper.
The poem she read that Friday night was Children are the Orgasm of the World. It was unexpected and electric, with the kind of deliciously awkward humour that moms of the future would surely have. We loved it.
Four years on, Hera’s launching her long-anticipated debut collection of poetry, Hera Lindsay Bird, and we’re excited to be celebrating the ocassion with a video of that first poem we heard (animated by Frances Haszard, who also illustrated our remarkable Mint Chicks oral history vid).
(Hat-tip: David Graham at the V-V Talk group on Facebook.)
Poetry by the UK performance poet Daniel Cockrill animated by Richard Jackson (Plume Animation) with music by Julian Ward. Jackson does a marvelous job of expanding and extending the images in the texts, connecting what appear to be two separate poems, and concluding with a purely visual epilogue after the credits. Uploaded to Vimeo six years ago, it came to my attention just the other week when it was shared on YouTube by Muddy Feet Poetry.
This is one of at least four animations that Cockrill and Jackson have collaborated on. I see too that both of Cockrill’s books with Burning Eye have been produced collaboratively with visual artists: Sellotaping Rain to My Cheek with the cartoonist Tony Husband, and In The Beginning Was The Word, Then A Drawing, Then More Words, Another Drawing, And So On, And So On with illustrator Damien Weighill. Very cool.
How about some lighter fare to help relieve that pre-holiday stress? This is Missed Aches by director Joanna Priestley, based on a poem by Taylor Mali. It took First Prize at the Black Maria Film Festival, which called it “an uproarious animation by one of the nation’s iconic animation artists” and “a cascade of malapropisms.” Here are the full credits from the YouTube description:
Sound Design by Normand Roger and Pierre Yves Drapeau. Music by Pierre Yves Drapeau with Denis Chartrand and Normand Roger. Text Animation by Brian Kinkley. Character design and animation by Don Flores. Storyboards by Dan Schaeffer. Directed, produced and animated by Joanna Priestley. Supported by The Regional Arts and Culture Council and the Caldera Institute.
A simple but perfect animation of an Anne Sexton poem by Montreal-based multi-disciplinary artist Ohara Hale, with Maria Popova of the venerable Brain Pickings blog supplying the voiceover. It’s been viewed 136,000 times since Hale posted it to Vimeo in May of 2015. Popova blogged about their collaboration — a great post, too long to reproduce here. A snippet:
Hale’s concept, predicated on the mesmerism of angles, was inspired by legendary neurologist Oliver Sacks and his work on how the blind see the world. It sparked in her a fascination with how they construct a kaleidoscope of angularity, which led her to imagine how a dog is perceived not as a single dog but as a million dogs, each “seen” from a different angle. Many of the angles don’t resemble a “dog” in the pictorial sense but still contribute to the understanding of what a dog is.
This way of deconstructing the world into fragments and reconstructing them into a wholeness of understanding is so different from how we see via regular vision that, as Dr. Sacks so movingly wrote in The Mind’s Eye, the newly sighted are often utterly overwhelmed by having to process information in this new way and revert to “blindness,” closing their eyes and continuing to navigate the world scanning for angles.
It is concerned with not speaking out, keeping your feet still or actually biting the bullet and achieving inner freedom. And about how individual mental states influence the world.
I can’t say enough good things about this animated film by the ever-inventive Kate Sweeney. It works equally well as a poetry film or as a lyrical promo for vaccination; the transition from prose narration (by Dr. Mohamed Osman) to poetry half-way through is natural and powerful, and the poem by Christy Ducker is extraordinarily good. Here’s the description:
An animated film highlighting the research and fieldwork into finding a cure for Leishmaniasis, a chronic disease affecting millions of people in areas such as Sudan and Syria. The film was made as part of a collaboration between poet Christy Ducker and artist Kate Sweeney and scientists working at York University at The Centre for Chronic Disease.
Working in collaboration allows access to an other’s research, in this case, the work of scientists who are actively working to find a cure, and to study the causes and exacerbations of the Leishmaniasis disease. Dr Mohamed Osman sent me photographs he had taken when in Sudan of the people he was working with, trialing a vaccine for the disease. I was able to interview him, talk to him about my interests in stories and how we tell stories to frame experiences and use his response and his photographs in the initial part of the film. The second part of the film is an animated response to Christy’s poem that explores metaphorical links between medical vaccinations and the grieving process. Where the loose style of the first part of the film reflects the nature of conversation, the more structured animation in the second part reflects poetry’s structured, considered language.