This Poetry Storehouse remix by Nic Sebastian deploys still images by artist Peter Gric and a soundscape by Jarred Gibb for a strangely compelling and disturbing accompaniment to Kristin LaTour’s poem.
The astounding reception of this kinestatic video might offer some lessons for those interested in videopoetry as a way to reach new and larger audiences. In a post on her personal blog, Sebastian pondered “What happens when a poetry video gets 3,000 plays in 5 days?” I encourage everyone to click through and read the whole post, which is much more angst-ridden than boastful (we poets do not always handle success well). I particularly liked this part:
A poem has no life outside its interaction with people. When they are not being interacted with, poems lie dead in the dark, where they are purposeless, and meaningless.
The role of the curator, remixer or publisher of poetry is to maximize the number of interactions each poem has with people. In the hands of the successful curator/publisher, the poem lives in interaction repeatedly and reaches a higher level of its interaction potential than poems in the custody of less successful handlers.
That’s the role of the curator/publisher in the scheme of things poetry. But it doesn’t have to be their motivation. This is where I got confused. If things go well, more people will interact with poems as a result of my remixing and curating. If things don’t, they won’t. But that’s not why I do what I do. I do what I do because I like voicing poems, I like exploring the technology of putting poems online in different ways, I like the challenge of combining poetry and digital imagery in video, and experimenting with sound.
A poem by Diane Lockward from The Poetry Storehouse, in what Nic Sebastian calls a still image remix — the first of two videopoems she’s made so far with the digital artwork of Adam Martinakis. Nic has just posted some process notes for the two videos. A couple of snippets:
I loved [Adam Martinakis'] weird and wonderful images as soon as I saw them. His website pictures are downloadable (not everyone is so open, even though the files for online viewing are necessarily quite small), so I was able to download the ones I liked and privately get a good sense of how I might work with them before I asked Adam for permission. He gave it at once, and went so far as to say there was no need for me to clear the final version with him. (I did, though – things work better if you keep folks posted all the way, I find).
A subset of Adam’s images were more rawly sexual, almost predatory, and these came together in my mind as a great backdrop for Diane’s lush, voluptuous poem about orchids, but not about orchids. The poem is couched as a warning to the predator against obsessive pursuit of the object, and I thought I could present the corollary of that – the vulnerability to exploitation of the object, whether a woman or an orchid in the wild. Adam’s image of the falling girl in a fetal position wrapped in gold foil struck me as exquisitely vulnerable and a wonderful way to wrap up this ‘story’.
This genre, to which I have perhaps inappropriately applied the term kinestasis — basically, fancy slideshows in video form — probably accounts for 90 percent of all poetry videos on YouTube. Most, of course, are thoroughly unimaginative, so I told Nic in an email that I was happy to see her elevating the genre a bit. Much to both of our surprise, however, the four still-image remixes she’s made so far have already surpassed almost every other videopoem she’s ever made in the number of views they’ve racked up. I would suggest that’s because, when the artists whose work she uses link to the videos, their artist friends on Facebook actually go and watch them. Poets trying to get other poets to watch videos is always going to be more of a struggle. At any rate, read Nic’s full account on her blog.
This is the rest, another of Kathy McTavish‘s mesmerizing pieces of sound art and kinestatic imagery. Three poems by Michelle Matthees in type form—”The Gardner Hotel,” “Bouquets” and “The Rest”—scroll slowly up the screen against a background (or is it a foreground?) of shifting shapes and tones.
Photographer Barbara Doux directs, and also supplies the voice-over. Nguyen-Tri Mai is both author and performer. Audio recording and mixing as well as video editing are all the work of Kuba Dziewa.