A poemeo animated by Jonathan Thunder, written in English by Heid E. Erdrich, translated to Ojibwe language by Margaret Noodin. This poem began when Heid was reading the Nichols and Nylhom Ojibwe language dictionary and practicing her pronunciation, which is always a challenge. The dictionary page is almost entirely made of Ojibwe words for clouds. It ends with “club” which is how winter starts.
It’s Long War week at Moving Poems, and (appropriately perhaps) it’s going to be an unusually long week, with videos right through the weekend. That is in part because so far we’ve heard only from men, which doesn’t seem right, given that wars disproportionately impact women. Today, the California poet and videopoetry critic Erica Goss helps us right the balance with her first author-made videopoem. But according to the description on Vimeo, it won’t be her last:
This is the first in a series of three videos based on poems I’ve written about the subject of war. The word “telegenic” was given to me from a radio broadcast I heard during the 2014 attack on Gaza. Much of the poem was influenced by an encounter I had with an Iraq war veteran at a poetry writing event in San Jose, California. The images of children, sunrise and the woman are different from the usual images one associates with war: they are intended to remind us of what is lost to violence.
The music is guitarist Sam Eigen’s interpretation of the Rite of Spring theme. Sam composed the music specifically for this video, with my guidance. The music was recorded at Keith Holland Studio in Los Gatos, California. Don Peters, my husband, is the narrator; it took us many recordings to get his voice right for the video. I wanted someone with a “normal” voice – i.e., not a “poetry voice” – to tell the story.
To find footage, I searched Video Blocks for images that seemed to create associations. The clips I chose came together in an intuitive way.
I am grateful for the feedback I received from Dave Bonta and Marc Neys (Swoon), two artists whose work I greatly respect and who have influenced me in creating my first video poem.
The poem “telegenic” was first published at New Verse News: newversenews.blogspot.com/2014/11/telegenic.html
From the Welsh environmental campaigner, essayist and poet Robert Minhinnick comes this searing example of what might be called photojournalistic poetry film, as the Vimeo description explains:
A poem by Robert Minhinnick illustrated with unique footage taken during his visit to Iraq. Visiting the notorious Amiriya bunker. Harrowing, moving and dark.
Peter Thorp edited, and the audio samples and loops were created by Peter Morgan. The film was produced (by Sonicsustain and Subjective Realities) in 2005, but refers to a horrific incident from the earlier Gulf War of 1991 — and a propaganda line about “smart bombs” that also debuted during that earlier invasion, and which went largely unchallenged by mainstream journalists in the US and UK. In fairness to them, it was difficult to gain accurate information because of the way the Pentagon severely restricted the movements of journalists on the ground, part of an ultimately successful attempt to mute public opposition to military aggression which would later find full expression during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when it was formalized under the Orwellian label embedded journalism. Reporters who refused to cooperate with the Pentagon were targeted by US missiles and tank fire. Given how dangerous the whole region has now become for journalists, and how mendacious the official justifications for warfare have always been, our need for the prophetic witness of poets is greater than ever.
what are you making your way out of?
maybe skin, maybe shadow.
An author-made videopoem by photographer and poet Amaal Said, featuring Annina Chirade, editor in chief of Rooted In Magazine. The About page on Said’s website gives some insight into her motivations:
I am a Danish-born Somali photographer and poet, currently based in London, UK. I’m concerned with storytelling and how best I can connect with people to document their stories. I have photographed mainly Women of Colour in an attempt to widen representation. I started with taking as many pictures of family members because I wanted to remember them, however far they were. I’m still so fascinated with the way we can use photographs to bring people closer.
The photography grew out of the writing. There were things I could photograph better than I could describe. I am a member of the Burn After Reading poetry collective and a former Barbican Young Poet. I won the Wasafiri New Writing Prize for poetry in 2015.
A bilingual Indonesian videopoem by the artist duo Gandiva Arungirora: Gracia Tobing (who also wrote the text) and Navida Suryadilaga. Additional credits include Chairul Karyana ‘Aceh’, art direction; Rizkita Daratri, director of photography; and Tesla Manaf, music and sound design. Tobing told me in an email that the part of the voiceover in Indonesian is a translation of the English part, but that it includes metaphors that don’t necessarily translate well. The over-all message deals with self-acceptance and identity, and how we define ourselves by where we come from, where and how we happen to have been born. Tobing also indicated that they are very interested in videopoetry and are hard at work on more videos, so keep an eye on their YouTube channel.
An at-times quite literal but nevertheless thoroughly entertaining videopoem from bagadefente, “a brazilian self-taught multimedia artist, who creates works in several languages & media, specially video, writing & prints, using Chance and Chaos as its main creative tools.” I liked the use of text-on-screen, and the soundtrack by Dael Vasques was another favorite element (I’m a sucker for banjo music), but mostly I just liked the quirky, improvisational feel. And I see I’m not alone: According to the Vimeo description, it was screened in most of the major poetry-film festivals last year.
Cindy St. Onge calls this “a video remix dirge.” To me, it’s political remix videopoetry done right: responsive to the political moment yet aesthetically balanced and restrained, and highly imaginative in its juxtaposition of image and text (from a first aid manual). St. Onge includes just long enough of a clip from the cellphone video of a dying Philando Castile for the content to register with the viewer, but not so much that it seems disrespectful or exploitative, I think.