Posts in Category: Author-made videopoems

these days by Ian Gibbins

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I had the pleasure of watching this film by Australian videopoet and musician Ian Gibbins at the Big Poetry Weekend in Swindon, UK last fall. Prophecy never sounded so groovy.

Over the years I’ve seen a lot of videopoems with footage shot from cars, but this is the first time I’ve seen the driver credited (Judy Morris). A nice touch. And I like what Gibbins does visually to suggest the way our vision and possibly our very relationship to the landscape is warped by our love affair with the automobile. Of course it has to have a driving rhythm, as well.

Here by Robert-Jonathan Koeyers

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Here is written and directed by Robert-Jonathon Koeyers, who describes it as:

an experimental visual poem combining video, photography, and animation to examine the lived Black experience and ultimately ask what it means to be ‘here’.

Additional animation was contributed by Lina Maldeikyte, Chellysia Christen, Mireille Kiesewetter, Sibel Vuap and Rebeka Mór.

Extensive artist notes on the piece are to be found at Koeyers’ website.

The Eyes Have Woods by Shanna Compton

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This author-made filmpoem adapts a text from Shanna Compton‘s new collection (Creature Sounds Fade), for which it serves as a trailer. Compton notes that although all readings and launch events have been canceled in response to the pandemic, the book is still scheduled for release by late summer or early fall, and is now available for preorder from Black Lawrence Press.

“The Eyes Have Woods” originally appeared in American Poetry Review.

Post updated 21 May to correct launch information.

Twenty Times by Caroline Rumley

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This deservedly won the Audience Award at the 2020 REELpoetry/Houston TX festival in January, where I first saw it and was moved by the juxtaposition of disturbing imagery — either actual police body camera footage, or a very good simulacrum of it — with the speaker’s sedate description of her own backyard: a powerful indictment of the racism and class divisions permeating American society, where Black men risk death by police or vigilante shooting every time they go out the door, even into their own grandmother’s backyard. Rest in peace, Stephon Clark. I wish this videopoem didn’t still feel so necessary and relevant.

Twenty Times was runner-up in the Atticus Review 2019 Videopoem Contest. Marc Neys, the contest judge, wrote:

“Twenty Times” is a powerful political and poetic video. The use of ‘lo-fi’ imagery adds to the suspense and darkness of the video. The contrast with the every day life described in the poem sets the perfect base for the message.

Click through for a bio of Rumley, and visit her website for links to all her films.

Consensus trance by Janet Lees

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A new video from artist and poet Janet Lees, who calls it

A film poem for the end times
Words & imaging by Janet Lees, with thanks to Richard Heinberg for the title. Image taken on the last Thursday in April 2020.
Music, ‘On a Thursday in April’ by Crysalide Shoegaze

Becoming the Other Becoming by Laura Mullen

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Perhaps I’m a bit too logocentric, but seeing the word “social” torn in half hit me like a punch to the gut.

There’s a “with poem” version of this (above) and a “without poem” version, the difference being the presence or absence of a voiceover. Laura Mullen is one of the more widely published American poets to also make videopoems. Shockingly, this is only the third video of hers I’ve shared here. Do browse her work on Vimeo.

as the breath is… by Endre Farkas

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A “Videopoem created together in isolation during the COVID-19 Pandemic” by Montreal-based poet Endre Farkas (text, vocals), Martin Reisch (video and editing), Carolyn Marie Souaid (accompanying vocals), and Gregory Fitzgerald (sound engineering). Farkas and Souaid previously collaborated on Blood is Blood, which won the ZEBRA International Poetry Film Festival’s “Best Film for Tolerance” in 2012.

Sometimes the best videopoems arise from a simple idea flawlessly executed, and this is I think an example of that. All of the lockdown’s pent-up frustration and anxieties (about breathing, among other things) find visceral expression as the text is breathed, stretched and seemingly stitched into the very fabric of the biosphere. On the front page of his website, Farkas describes how it came to be made in a short essay which is worth quoting in full:

This poem has been around the block a few times. Sitting in a bar in Trois Rivières in the 1980s, during its annual poetry festival, a few poets, including me, were asked to compose a brief poem on a handmade paper coaster and then read it to the audience.

I had always been interested in line lengths in poems, usually referred to as beats, feet or breath. I always liked the measure of breath. Breath is best. It made sense that the measure of a line of a poem (an oral form) be measured in breaths not feet. I had also been working with dancers to whom breath was a concern. People take breath for granted. It’s an automatic function. The dancers made me conscious of its actuality and necessity. So breath was floating in my brain. And after a few glasses of wine or beer, not sure, I came up with the first draft of the poem.

When it came to reading it, I decided to “breathe” the poem. This is how and when the poem “as the breath is…” first had life breathed into it.

I had performed it a couple of times over the years before I met Carolyn Marie Souaid, another poet. I don’t remember why or when exactly she agreed to do it with me, but I remember how much richer the poem became. The texture, the meshing, the lyrical, the cacophony, was enriched because of her participation.

Recently, BV (Before Virus), Carolyn & I went into Studio Sophronik to record some poems. “as the breath…” was one of them. The sound engineer, Greg Fitzgerald, who was used to recording music, didn’t know what to make of the poem. But he liked it. He asked if I would allow him to play with it. I have always liked collaborations, so I said, “of course.” A few days later he sent me an mp3 of it. I was blown away. The reverb, echo took it to another level. I listened to it a couple of times and filed it away, feeling that I would like to be able to perform this live.

Then came the plague. I knew that performing it live was not going to be possible. The option was online. For that I needed visuals. I had a bunch of photoshopped images that seemed to fit the bill. However, it would require the animation of stills. My go-to videographer, Martin Reisch, thought it might be too complicated to do in these isolation conditions. He suggested that he go through his archives and find appropriate clips to collage together and synch it to the audio. Again, the collaborative sensibility kicked in and I agreed.

​So, to make a short poem long, the videopoem, “as the breath is…”, (a day in the life and death of breath) is a collaboration in isolation brought to fruition by the plague. “as the breath is…” is an artifact of this time.