This is the English version of the “visual poem” Boy in Blue with poetry by Kwame Dawes, images by photographer Andre Lambertson, editing by Robin Bell and music by Kevin Simmonds. See YouTube for the text.
I’ve decided to change course here and begin occasionally posting films that consist entirely of still images so I can feature projects like this. The technical term for a film montage of still images (often found in documentary films) is kinestasis, so that’s the name of this newest category at Moving Poems.
I previously shared Dawes’ kinestases with photographer Joshua Cogan, Live Hope Love, which was about living with HIV in Jamaica. Voices from Haiti is a newer series, also produced by the Pulitzer Center, which explores life after the earthquake in Haiti, focusing on the lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS.
At the AWP conference in Chicago the week before last, I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Dawes speak about the collaborative process involved in making these videos, and was impressed by the extent to which he and the other artists involved in these projects seem to have stumbled upon some of the same principles that make regular videopoems or filmpoems work: the importance of the soundtrack and the need for juxtaposition rather than simple illustration to created multiple narratives in the listener’s head — “reportages in dialogue,” as he put it. These visual poems are creations in their own right, different from purely textual poems, and would not have happened without collaboration between poet, photographer and composer, he said.
It’s been too long since I last featured one of Kathy McTavish‘s lovely pieces of cello-accompanied video art for a poem by her regular collaborator, poet Sheila Packa. This is a piece from Packa’s new collection, Cloud Birds.
Most of the time, videos that consist only of still images don’t seem like a good fit for a site called Moving Poems, but McTavish’s videos are too full of life and movement to exclude.
I’m going to break my informal rule against featuring slideshows today, because I think these are exceptionally well done. The poet is Kwame Dawes, and the photographer is Joshua Cogan. The slideshows were produced by the Pulitzer Center, and are only one facet of a multimedia website, Live Hope Love, which includes interviews, audio of many other poems, and more. Dawes took three trips to his native Jamaica to collect materials for the project; it resembled a regular work of investigative journalism in every way, except for the fact that one of the final products was a collection of poems. His mission, according to the Pulitzer Center: “to explore the experience of people living with HIV/AIDS and to examine the ways in which the disease has shaped their lives.”