Posts in Category: Videopoems

Continental Drift by Nayeem Mahbub

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A poetry film written and directed by Bangladeshi filmmaker Nayeem Mahbub. The description reads:

A man rages at memories of war, border crossings, beatings and asylum, at the hard years finding his place in a foreign land. He rages at the cosmic cruelty of having gone through all this for his loved ones, who died crossing the sea before they could join him.

This was brought to my attention by an interview with Mahbub just published at Poetryfilmkanal. A few snippets:

Poetryfilmkanal: Your film was produced within the DOC Nomads program. Tell us about the program and how it influenced or changed your way of film making?

Nayeem Mahbub: Doc Nomads is a unique master’s programme for documentary film directing. It involved living and filming in Portugal, Hungary and Belgium over two years. As you can imagine it was both very challenging and very stimulating. I definitely learned to notice things I had never thought about and to step firmly out of my comfort zone when making films. We were constantly facing language barriers, so thinking about the presence or absence of language and what that means became a default part of our process. The students in the programme became close friends and collaborators, even to this day. So our styles, thoughts and attitudes continue to rub off on each other.

[…]

Your film could be understood as a poetry film. But you didn’t consider yourself a poet when you wrote the script? Did you?

That’s true. I was working on an idea about asylum centres in Belgium but was having trouble finding access to tell the subjective kind of story I wanted. Then the combination of a few events I witnessed in Brussels started to come out in a form very similar to the final text in the film. At the time I assumed these would be notes for developing my idea further but I found it very powerful and kept it, with a few refinements. I have to acknowledge my fellow Doc Nomad and friend Sohel Rahman, a Bengali poet and filmmaker, who helped me a lot with refining the language.

Read the rest.

Goraikou by Eleni Cay

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Slovakian poet Eleni Cay‘s latest dancepoem video features dancer Roberta Stepankova. The text appears in her third and latest pamphlet (chapbook), A Small Love Dictionary Of Untranslatable Japanese Words.

Our Lady Time by Meghan McDonald

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This author-made videopoem is the latest addition to Meghan McDonald’s playlist of poetry videos, where meditations on time have been a reoccurring theme.

I was trying to think of a concise way to characterize McDonald when I clicked on her website and saw the tagline: Sound experimenter, filmmaker and visual poet. That sounds about right. Here’s her bio.

The Impotence of Proofreading by Taylor Mali

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How about some lighter fare to help relieve that pre-holiday stress? This is Missed Aches by director Joanna Priestley, based on a poem by Taylor Mali. It took First Prize at the Black Maria Film Festival, which called it “an uproarious animation by one of the nation’s iconic animation artists” and “a cascade of malapropisms.” Here are the full credits from the YouTube description:

Sound Design by Normand Roger and Pierre Yves Drapeau. Music by Pierre Yves Drapeau with Denis Chartrand and Normand Roger. Text Animation by Brian Kinkley. Character design and animation by Don Flores. Storyboards by Dan Schaeffer. Directed, produced and animated by Joanna Priestley. Supported by The Regional Arts and Culture Council and the Caldera Institute.

Living Image by Susie Welsh

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A mixed-media work by Los Angeles-based writer and artist Susie Welsh, which came to my attention when it was featured at the Atticus Review back in November. Welsh had written:

The Living Image project began as a call-and-response between my writing and the paintings of visual artist, Bill Atwood. These static elements were then brought to life on camera through my collaborations with video artists, Billy Hunt and Brian Wimer, as well as musician, Deke Shipp.

The video is in six numbered parts: “The Source,” “Inverted,” “In Echo,” “Out of Blindness,” “The Witness” and “The Sphinx.” The poet’s face forms part of the screen/surface onto which images are projected, which is always an interesting effect but works especially well here, drawing attention to the hermetic and spell-like quality of the text — a text which, to be honest, I probably wouldn’t like very much on its own, laden as it is with modifiers and abstractions. But it works well in a videopoem that’s truly greater than the sum of its parts. The Vimeo description reads:

Living Image is a poetry film exploring the frustration and alienation inherent in the assumption of selfhood, as well as the possibility of extricating the power of consciousness from our self-conscious preoccupation.

Click through to Atticus Review to read a fuller artist’s statement, which delves into ancient Egyptian cosmology, as well as a bio of Welsh. And while you’re there, check out the guidelines for submission — mixed media editor Matt Mullins is always looking for new material.

“Aurora is the effort” by Emily Dickinson

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A brand new videopoem by writer (and former film major) James Brush demonstrating one way to make an effective video with a very short, enigmatic text, marrying Dickinson’s cosmic lines with some footage that is literally out of this world. James put up a blog post about it, which I’ll take the liberty of quoting in full:

This is a video I made for Emily Dickinson’s “Aurora is the effort.” I stumbled on the Jupiter aurora footage at ESA/Hubble and wanted to do something with it. I had Dickinson on my mind since we share a birthday, and I often find myself turning to her work around this time of year, so I started searching for aurora-related Dickinson poems and liked this one for its simplicity and unusual syntax and wording. The sounds are radio static and me rubbing the strings and hitting the back of a bass guitar with some effects from garage band.

I’ve been wanting to do a Dickinson poem for years and even have a concept for another one that maybe someday will get done. Thanks for watching.

For an interesting perspective on what Dickinson might’ve been up to in this poem, see Jed Deppman’s Trying to Think With Emily Dickinson (University of Massachusetts Press, 2008), p. 129 ff. (via Google Books). Deppman finds that “Aurora is the effort”

features the kind of deconstructive paradox that both defines and destabilizes many of Dickinson’s definition poems: the category of “the natural” transforms into the others that philosophers have always used to define it by opposition: the “social,” “cultural” and “artificial.” The specific terms the speaker uses to transform cosmology into cosmetics and make heaven’s two-facedness the basis of a definition under erasure derive in part from the idea—circulating in Amherst thanks to Transcendentalism, Ruskin, Hitchcock, and the Hudson River school—that nature mirros God’s consciousness, that, as Barton Levi St. Armand puts it, “the sensuous veil of nature is but a protective covering over the naked creative spirit of the universe.”

It’s worth reading the analysis in full to realize just how much meaning Dickinson could pack into her gnomic verses.

Trains of Austerlitz by Karen Mary Berr

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A 2009 poetry film, newly uploaded to Vimeo, written, directed and performed by Karen Mary Berr.