These are numbers 3, 7 and 15 from a 20-part series of videopoems made for an exhibition last year in Quebec City by Jean Coulombe and Gilbert Sévigny, AKA Éditions VA. The haiku-like texts are by Coulombe, they collaborated on the videos, and the sounds are credited to Marie-Louise. The exhibition itself consisted of “20 tableaux ayant pour thématique la basse-ville de Québec. Chaque tableau était jumelé à un vidéo poème accessible sur internet, par un code QR” (20 pictures about downtown Quebec City. Each picture was twinned to a vidéo-poem linked on the web with a QR code). The exhibition catalogue is online in PDF form.
Many of the texts are coffee-themed, and I gather the exhibition was in a coffee shop. Satori in Zen means awakening, so it makes sense to refer to the effect of caffeine as a sort of satori on stand-by. There’s a preface in the catalogue called “Un petit moment” (A small moment) which I ran through Google Translate (I don’t know much French):
Each passing day gives us a chance to appreciate small moments. Stopping for coffee is one of them.
This special moment allows reflection and even in some cases a form of meditation.
What remains afterward?
Of course, in our minds a lot of things are floating around: daydreams, inner dialogues or observations. But there is also the physical and ephemeral presence of this little “ring” left by the cup of coffee on the table. One does not notice it, and yet one is witness to the discreet happiness of this tiny moment.
Isle of Man-based poet and artist Janet Lees has long been an important figure in the international poetry film scene, often collaborating with Terry Rooney, but recently she’s been experiencing a creative surge, she told me, and one only needs to visit her Vimeo page to see the evidence: a number of new, generally very short films that showcase her range of interests and stylistic approaches. One constant in her work is the preference for text-on-screen. She also often deploys just a single shot, which works because—as I’ve come to learn by following her on Instagram—she has a terrific eye. Her one-line description on IG: “everything is poetry”.
This brilliant author-made videopoem seemed like a good one with which to start a new season of regular posts at Moving Poems. Joanna Fuhrman is the author of five books of poetry, including Pageant (2009), winner of the Kinereth Gensler Prize from Alice James Books; and The Year of Yellow Butterflies (Hanging Loose Press, 2015). Her page at the Poetry Foundation website notes that
Her poetry is humorous and surreal, mining references from pop and high culture. Writing about Fuhrman’s work for BOMBLOG, Susie DeFord observed that Fuhrman “takes the best of the surrealist and narrative poetry, weaving social and personal stories with extreme wit, imagination.”
These qualities are certainly on display here and in the other nine videopoems which she’s recently uploaded to Vimeo. “Witty” was the first word that came to my mind when I started browsing through her work. And it’s always great to see a widely published poet with serious video-making chops.
Janet Lees‘ latest poetry film: “Written & filmed by Janet Lees. Music – ‘Scriptures’ by Post War Stories. Edited by Glenn Whorrall.”
The music plays an unusually prominent role, but I found the interplay between the lyrics and Janet’s text on the screen intriguing. And because the music was so much a feature, the slow-motion single shot felt almost like an ironic commentary on the fast cuts and frenetic camerawork that characterize so many music videos.
Lithuanian-American-Canadian poet Lina Ramona Vitkauskas has been directing a series of short but powerful cinepoems for her collection White Stockings with the help of visual artist Tess Cortés (editing, arrangement and score). Watch the others on Vimeo. They deserve many more views than they have received so far.
Much of life comes down to the simple things, small in nature but complicated in terms of the inner workings of the mind. Most of my work centers around the effortless red-letter moments of life, where the heart seems to linger. I create poetic snapshots of the past facing the present in a subtle attempt to draw attention to where we are culturally at this moment in our history. My poetry and films harken back to my Texas roots and friends and family in rural Colorado, bringing a touch of surrealism to my small town recollections, highlighting the occasions that seem to bind us emotionally and culturally.
Perkins is also the organizer and curator of the Juteback Poetry Film Festival in Fort Collins, Colorado, which by the way is still open for submissions through August 19.
A new videopoem from Australian poet Brendan Bonsack, who calls it “a short and snappy musing on love, death and white flowers.”