The Ants was made for the poetry film competition of the Leipzig Poetry Society in Germany. The challenge was to make a film based on any poem by Joachim Ringelnatz (1883-1934), a cabaret poet and absurd humorist. Most of the Ringelnatz poems I have read are strange and funny, and very short. I chose Die Ameisen/The Ants for its whimsy, and partly because it includes a reference to Australia, where I live. It’s a coincidence too that ants have been a funny and instructive presence in my life. The film is bilingual, in German first and then English. It was a fun film to make, with music created for it by my long-time collaborator, Adrian Carter, and collage art by Kollage Kid. Both of them are in the UK.
The film ended up taking first place in the contest.
All this week I’m going to be featuring recent poetry films by Marie Craven. When she joined Moving Poems as an editor last year, our initial instinct was to avoid sharing her own films too often to avoid the appearance of favoritism, but I’ve recently changed my mind about that. Marie has become one of the most prominent filmmakers in the international poetry film scene, and it’s silly to pretend otherwise. So it’s catch-up time! Especially since Marie has just caught up on her blog, and I can simply quote her process notes for most of these films.
A poem by Austin, Texas-based writer Brittani Sonnenberg adapted for the Visible Poetry Project by UK artist Jane Glennie. “A key technique in her films is to take hundreds of photographs, which are edited and sequenced into rapid ‘flicker films’ and combine them with composite soundtracks,” as Gklennie’s bio on the VPP website puts it.
The text here is by Canadian poet Kim Mannix, the music by Adi Carter, and the video and voice are the work of Marie Craven, who really puts the “kinetic” into “kinestatic” in her use of still images. See the Vimeo description for links to all the photographers, and listen to the complete soundtrack, “Blink Blink,” on SoundCloud.
Our last video of 2016 is also our first of 2017, since it’s already the New Year in Australia where Marie lives. And a few hours ago on Facebook, she wrote: “The turn of the year is my favorite time. For me, it is about letting go of the past and going fresh into the new.” Here’s wishing all Moving Poems readers/viewers a happy, peaceful and creative New Year.
I’ll end the week with a poem by one of my favorite poets, Sarah Sloat, interpreted by one of my favorite poetry-film makers, Marie Craven, in what I think is one of the most effective examples of the kinestatic style in videopoetry that I’ve seen. (Kinestasis is properly defined as “an animation technique using a series of still photographs or artwork to create the illusion of motion,” but I use the term, in the absence of a better one, a bit more broadly, to refer to any faster-than-slideshow series of still images in a video.) Craven’s masterful deployment of images from the Brockhaus Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary (1890-1907) unfolds to music by Podington Bear and the Poetry Storehouse voice recording by a young boy identified only as DM. Someone on Facebook described the overall effect as “sumptuously austere.”
This isn’t the first poetry film to use this text; no less than Marc Neys AKA Swoon has also tried his hand at it. But Craven definitely gave him a run for his money here. Sloat’s text seems especially ripe for videopoetic adaptation, given its musing on the relationship between words and images. Pen-and-ink illustrations in a dictionary break up the columns of text, Sloat says, “like little windows opening / from one side of the brain // to the other.” That’s exactly what happens to me whenever I watch a good videopoem.
I’m tethering my life
so the storm doesn’t escape me.
costs the unthinkable.
A series of gnomic pronouncements, as if in response to an unseen interrogator, accompany shots of the poet’s visible traces: his identity papers, fingerprints, and typewritten words. Ángel Guinda stars in this gem of a book trailer, the work of Charles Olsen, a New Zealander currently residing in Spain, and the production company Antena Blue. (Be sure to click the CC icon on the lower right to read the subtitles—a very good English translation.)
This was one of two Olsen/Antena Blue films selected for screening at ZEBRA this year. Olsen wrote about his experience at ZEBRA for the big idea/te aria nui.
The second film poem, included in the section “Wracking Your Brains” – our preoccupations with the past, doubts and spiritual unrest – was a piece we made for the Spanish poet Ángel Guinda, “Libro de Huellas” (The Book of Traces) where, in a series of striking aphorisms, he reflects on memory, religion, and power.
I began making film poems using my own poetry and that of my wife, the Colombian writer Lilián Pallares, with whom I direct the production company Antena Blue, “The observed word”. There is a great freedom to explore all the aspects of the image, sound, text, words, narrative, pace, and as a poet-filmmaker it is not necessarily the poem that has to come first. It may be an image or a personal story that lends itself to a poetic treatment later inspiring the text or a filmmaker may piece together fragments of dialogues, sounds and images to create a collage of words and images.
Today again I’d like to present two very different videopoems made with the same text—and even the same reading. This time the poem comes from The Poetry Storehouse, and is the work of the Missouri-based poet and editor Laura M Kaminski. The voiceover in both is by Nic S., who is also the maker of the first video remix (her preferred term). Nic sourced her music from David Mackey on SoundCloud.
Australian artist Marie Craven puts the “kinesis” back in “kinestatic” here. I didn’t even notice that the film was made entirely of still images the first time I watched it; the uptempo music by anunusualleopard probably had something to do with that. Click through to Vimeo for the full list of credits and links.
Read the just-published interview with Laura M Kaminski at Moving Poems Magazine to learn why Nic’s film brought her to tears, and how a friend who doesn’t usually read poetry reacted to Marie’s film.