Posts in Category: Author-made videopoems

The Old Shopping Trolley Told Me by Brendan Bonsack

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A minimalist, author-made videopoem by Brendan Bonsack, “Filmed on location at The Merri Merri, Melbourne/Narrm, Australia.” Here’s the text. I thought this would make an interesting contrast to yesterday’s video by Ian Gibbins: also an author-made videopoem from Australia, but there the resemblance pretty much ends… except, I think, for the crucial role of the soundtrack in both.

Heist by Ian Gibbins

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A strangely compelling videopoem by Australian poet, composer and retired scientist Ian Gibbins. I say “strangely” because, after watching it twice, I still have no idea what it’s about… but I’m eager to watch it again! I particularly liked the use of computer code-like text on screen, which reminded me of what Gibbins did with mathematical notation in “accidentals (recalculated).” It also made me think of the WordPress slogan “Code is Poetry,” which I’ve always struggled with because the converse (“poetry is code”) is an unfortunately fairly widespread perception that prevents so many people from simply enjoying poetry, feeling instead that it’s a puzzle to be solved. That said, “Heist” does seem to tease certain detective-story sensibilities. Here’s the précis on Vimeo:

// * Calculating_our_options, we_talked_about * //
> C:\ [Raid 1] clandestine_surveillance, sleeplessness;
> D:\ [Raid 2] digital_account_protocols, stolen_cars;
> E:\ [Raid 3] handwritten_code, avarice_and_betrayal {who_is_working_the_numbers, keeping_track_of_time?};
> V:\ [Raid 4] execution, small_arms_fire (countersunk_beleaguered); {will_there_be_backup_when_we_are_zeroed_to_baseline?}.

This is one of two videos of Gibbins’ to be screened last weekend at the 6th International Video Poetry Festival in Athens.

UPDATE (1/25/18): At my suggestion, Gibbins has blogged about the video: “heist: what’s going on here?” I’m finding it difficult to excerpt the post since the whole thing is worth reading, so please just click through and read it.

all roads lead here by James Brush

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“Video adapted from a sequence of haiku-like micropoems in my book Highway Sky,” says James Brush in the Vimeo description. He goes into quite a bit more detail in a blog post, and I was interested to see him come to the same conclusion about video haiku as I did a few years ago: the on-screen images can obviate the need to include up to half the text in a haiku (or every other verse in a renga).

Things got interesting as I was editing. The more I looked at it, I realized I could cut a line from the first haiku which originally read (as published at tinywords):

a hundred miles out
the glow of Los Angeles
desert starlight

The second line seemed redundant with the footage of the LA skyline and city lights. Likewise, I was able to cut the first line from the third haiku as the sunset-over-the-waves image did the work of the first line.

the sun falls to sea
here at the end of the road
nothing left to say

The central haiku was left alone, but I played with the text to try to put it in motion and show the action of the waves erasing the name.

James makes another point in his post which I feel is crucial advice for poetry filmmakers of all stripes:

I liked this process of adaptation. When movies are adapted from books and stories, filmmakers change things. They fire characters and compress scenes in part to save money on paying actors and renting space, but also because there is often no need to say what is shown. Why not something similar with poetry?

I think writers and probably poets especially can get locked into the sanctity of their words and lord knows there are times when that makes sense, but if poetry is to be a conversation even if as in this case with oneself, I think it’s important to let go a little bit especially when changing mediums. My academic background is in film production and screenwriting where the expectation is that the written word is not final so maybe this comes easier for me, but it’s a comfortable way for me to work and I think it’s useful to see where your words can go and a worthwhile exercise to keep playing with what you’ve made and, if you dare, open it up for others to do so as well.

Read the rest.

Standard Time by Daniela Seel

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I was excited to see this film become available on the web last week, because it’s the one my jury mates and I chose as winner of the Weimar Poetry Film Award last year. Filmmakers Hanna Slak and Lena Reinhold adapted a text by the contemporary German poet Daniela Seel. Here’s the statement we released last May:

Standard Time is a timeless, self-referential meditation on the power of communication to transmute and, at times, distort. Its flawless blend of text, sound and images suggests a worldview both deeply rooted and universal, shamanistic and apophatic. It does what all great poems should do in suggesting more than it says and leaving the viewer’s mind abuzz with creative energy and new ideas. Addressing the poetic possibilities of time as it does, it can almost be seen as a film about poetry film itself.

I wrote all about our judging process in “2nd Weimar Poetry Film Award: A view from the jury.” Much more recently, the folks at Weimar have come out with a very effective video collage of interviews and other shots from the festival. And they’d probably like me to remind you that submissions to the 2018 award are still open until the 31st.

Cry of the Loon by Kai Carlson-Wee

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An author-made poetry film by Kai Carlson-Wee that was a runner-up in the 2016 Button Poetry Video Contest.

It occurred to me as I re-watched this that the opening sequence of loons calling with the title superimposed is a great example of a circumstance in which it makes sense to break the rule against straight-forward illustration in video- or filmpoetry: so few people nowadays can be assumed to know what a loon call sounds like, and it’s really helpful to know that if you want the full, melancholy effect of the poem. And I like how the images in the film and the text slowly diverge over the next couple of minutes: an uncoupling that seems appropriate for a poem about memory and mortality. Finally we reach the ending sequence — back out on the water with the loons — and learn that the filmpoem is For Roald Carlson (1925-2015). Beautifully done (and a good mate to the in memoriam filmpoem by George and Eleanor Hooker that I posted on Wednesday).

This is a traveling song by Kate Greenstreet

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An author-made videopoem by Kate Greenstreet. As always, she was assisted by Max Greenstreet, listed in the credits as “right hand”. The text is poem #7 in her latest book from Ahsahta Press, The End of Something (where the poems rather than the pages are numbered), and the soundtrack incorporates the 7th track in Greenstreet’s EP drawn from the book, birds in the house. The video first appeared in Typo 28.

The End of Something is, by the way, a beautifully designed book which I read last month with great enjoyment, savoring the openness of the poems, full of imaginative leaps and half-unspoken truths that induce a kind of contemplative mood. This quality makes them ideal for multimedia adaptation, I think. Watch all four of the videopoems from the book, and download the EP, on the book’s website.

Insight: i.m. Michael Hartnett by Eleanor Hooker

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A filmpoem by Dublin-based photographer and director George Hooker for a poem by his mother, Eleanor Hooker. Insight was featured at Poetry Film Live, which included thumbnail bios, the text of the poem, and these process notes from the author:

George made this filmpoem for me as a Mother’s Day gift in April this year. He read the poem and then created a story board, with second by second plan for each ‘scene’. He enlisted the help of his brother and father and his girlfriend, Martina Babisova, an actress. The film was made on one cartridge of super 8mm film with only in-camera edits and no post-production. As 8mm film does not have a sound facility, George recorded the sound separately. He entered the filmpoem into the Straight 8 competition, who arranged to have sound added to the film in studios in London. The film was selected by an international jury and was premiered on July 9th 2017 at the Picturehouse Central, London as part of Straight 8’s UK premieres. The poem was first published in The Irish Times newspaper and subsequently in my second poetry collection, A Tug of Blue.