Posts in Category: Author-made videopoems

I Don’t Fear Death by Sandra Beasley

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Sandra Beasley is both poet and filmmaker here. This is one of three videos she made for poems from her prize-winning collection I Was the Jukebox. (She also blogs.)

My Story is Not My Own by Steven McCabe

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The most ambitious film by a poet for his own poem I’ve yet seen. It even has its own website; go there for the complete credits. Here’s McCabe’s description of the poem and the project:

At the moment of the fatal shots Jacqueline Kennedy was seen fleeing into prehistory, dancing ritualistically, time-traveling to the wild-west and documenting landscape. The film’s running time of 11:22 mirrors the date of the events precipitating the film’s thematic concerns.

‘My Story is Not My Own’ intertwines art forms; featuring four performers (including two dancers), narrators reciting poetry, one singer chanting Javanese-inspired incantations, electronic-ambient music and ‘found’ Super 8 footage from Kashmir in the 1960s.

The film blends scenes of journey, intimations of ritual, emotionality and American political history within an overarching sense of earth’s mystery. Personal and national grief juxtapose with archival footage of distant landscapes evoking a sense of loss.

Archetypal images of grief pervade the film’s imagery via the symbols of starfish, stones and veils. A mythological texture envelops the various manifestations of the ‘widow.’

Wearing her pink outfit, from that tragic day in 1963, she bursts through a saloon’s swinging wooden doors followed by the swelling ocean crashing wildly in faded footage. Linked to nature her story is truly not only her own.

‘One string snaps, this is the sound of what was new, and the oldest vibration of all, following its twin.’

‘My Story is Not My Own’ is a first film from a poet remembering the ‘feeling’ of November, 1963. Watching black & white TV with his mother nearby tending to small children. The film makes an unspoken connection between chemical attacks on the jungles of Vietnam which soon followed and the spirituality of disappeared Neolithic culture.

Yellow Leather by Naufus Ramirez Figueroa

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A meditation on the banana by Guatemalan interdisciplinary artist Naufus Ramirez Figueroa. I like his artist statement:

Though my creative process is committed to experimentation and research, and my subject matter often deals with things such as the Guatemalan Civil War, the results are often absurd and humorous. I have found that refugees and survivors of war are often that way; nothing in life is ever so dire as to be unworthy of a joke or two.

I Am by Steven Nichols Smith

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An experiment in found poetry with a distinctly populist flavor. As the filmmaker describes it:

I Am is not only a film but a social experiment that took strangers in Philadelphia and asked them to finish this sentence. “I am ___.” Through these responses, the film-maker was able to create a montage of answers and then delve deeper into a select few and allow them to explore their answers even further, creating not only written poems but a visual metaphor of these responses. (Premiered at iLLReality’s STEW event on March 21, 2010). Be sure to check out

The three poems embedded on the piece were written by Smith, based on the stories told him by Kelly Turner (“I Am Constantly at War with My Body”), Sanja Blazevic (“I Am Proud of My Parent’s Resilience”), and Jared Martin (“I Am an Actor, Once Upon a Time”).

The Peter Principle: Week 23 by Clayton Crosby

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The Peter Principle is “an epic work poem released in blog form each week” at, but it just occurred to me to check YouTube as well, where I found uploads from the author, Clayton Crosby, of five of his Flash animations converted to video form. These are all very basic typographic animations, and they’re not integrated with the audio on the blog, but it’s a very interesting project and I wanted to recognize it here. On the About page, he describes its origin as follows:

In 1968, Laurence J. Peter published The Peter Principle, which held the theory that “every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.” He reasoned that any employee who excelled at a particular job would be promoted up the corporate chain, and though the employee might adapt to the requirements of the new job, each promotion brought him closer to a job he couldn’t know how to do. Therefore, any employee is eventually promoted beyond his level of skill and competence.

I’ve been reading Homer, and have been putting a lot of thought into heroes and poetic forms. As a result, I’m exploring the tension between epic and lyric poetry – which is to say the narrative, the expressive and what falls between.

All of these poems are completed before or shortly after going to work.

I am also in awe of the website’s design. It has to be one of the coolest single-author poetry sites on the internet. Check it out.

Five ( Dramatic Pauses ) by Brendan Bell

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A found-poetry masterpiece comprised entirely of phrases from the NBC Nightly News between July 2008 and February 2009. Brendan Bell credits himself with “imagery, music, and language reconfiguation,” with additional film footage by Lester Bell. He also singles out NBC anchor Brian Williams as a specific source of some of the language. The description on the Vimeo page is worth quoting in full:

We let the television news into the perceived safety of our lives on a daily basis. Even without direct contact, the language of the medium connects with us via background noise, internet blips, and watercooler small-talk. It has a distinct, and often overlooked, authority over the way we think and feel.

The nightly half-hour national news format attempts to condense the state of the world into easily digestible soundbites. My intention is to release these soundbites, inherent powers intact, realign them and force them to interact in unintended ways.

For seven months, I watched NBC Nightly News, recording phrases that piqued my interest. I focused on this single media outlet to give the project a specific voice and began reconfiguring the phrases into what can best be described as collage poems. Poetry, like the news media, uses evocative language to provide insight into the inner workings of the world. However, poetry allows subtleties and subtext to take center stage. The resulting collage poems highlight the ambiguous spaces between language and life, exposing the vagaries of the ostensibly concrete world around us.

The term (Dramatic Pause) implies a brief deviation from an intended script, or a small crack in real time, where things that are normally hidden become visible. It is based on instructions written for news broadcasters on their teleprompters.

me’s-an-abyme by Michelle Lovegrove Thomson

A collage of images and voices of women poets that succeeds brilliantly, both as a tribute to the women whose words are borrowed and as an original videopoem. Michelle Lovegrave Thomson is the editor, cinematographer and hand-processor of the Super8mm film.