Posts in Category: Videopoems

Red Line Haiku by Brian Kirk

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A collaboration between Irish poet Brian Kirk and filmmaker Bao Zhu. Here’s how Kirk introduces it on his blog:

This is my poem film Red Line Haiku which was commissioned by South Dublin Libraries as part of the Red Line Book Festival 2015. The film was shown at the Civic Theatre Tallaght on Wednesday 14th October and Thursday 15th October as part of the festival.

The film maker was Bao Zhu, a student at Ballyfermot College of Further Education and we filmed in September 2015. My thanks to Bao who did a excellent job!

Shots of, or taken from, moving trains are a staple in poetry film, but seldom is the text focused on the train (or in this case tram) itself. The Red Line is one of two lines in Dublin’s light rail system, running “in an east-west direction through the city centre, north of the River Liffey, before and travelling southwest to Tallaght, with a fork to Citywest and Saggart,” according to the Wikipedia.

Literary festivals commissioning poetry films is a great trend, if it is a trend yet. I hope so! I’m running across more and more instances of it.

Thirty-Seven Photos from the Bridge by Leonard Gontarek

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UPDATE: Read Lori Ersolmaz’ essay on the making of the film at Moving Poems Magazine.

This is Fourteen Photos from the Bridge, the winning film from last month’s Big Bridges poetry film contest, sponsored by Motionpoems and the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, and I’m pleased to say that the filmmaker is someone we’ve regularly featured here: the New York-based, grassroots multimedia content producer and visual storyteller Lori H. Ersolmaz. Here’s some of what she says about it on her website:

My submission was based on the winning poem by Leonard Gontarek, Thirty-Seven Photos from the Bridge. Expressing fourteen of the thirty-seven stanzas, I used original footage shot in Paris and Belgium and filmed locally during summer 2015. I’m especially excited about this award as it provides me with an alternative visual storytelling approach to social issues. I submitted the film in an effort to open dialogue about the current need to address structurally deficient bridges and infrastructure.

There’s a good bio of Leonard Gontarek at the Poetry Foundation.

Hail the Bodhisattva of Collected Junk by Yin Ni

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A new poetry film from the Taiwanese filmmaker Ye Mimi is always an event. This one features a musical adaptation of a poem by Yin Ni from singer-songwriter Lo Sirong, performed with Gomoteu. The English translation in subtitles is by David Chen. Here’s the Vimeo description:

This experimental music video is based on a poem that both satirizes and celebrates local culture in Taiwan. “Hail the Bodhisattva of Collected Junk,” the title of both the song and the poem, is a play on the Buddhist phrase “Hail the Bodhisattva Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy.” The poem refers to local junk vendors, who repeatedly call out “sell them to me” as they walk from neighborhood to neighborhood looking for unwanted household items, typically scrap metal, tools and electronics.


*List of screenings:

The Kuala Lumpur Experimental Film and Video Festival, Malaysia
7th Cairo Video Festival, Egypt
Experimenta–8th International Festival of Moving Image Art in India, Bangalore


A poem by Yin Ni
Music by Lo Sirong
Performed by Lo Sirong and Gomoteu
Filmed and edited by Ye Mimi

In North America and Western Europe, we tend to think of street poetry as this gritty, youth-driven, hyper-competitive and aggressive thing, but in most parts of the world, the streets and markets are wellsprings of a much more diverse and mature oral culture, and I think this filmpoem captures that brilliantly. Hail the Bodhisattva of Collected Junk offers a unique glimpse into popular Buddhism and Taiwanese vernacular culture, and manages to seem simultaneously light-hearted and profound in a manner reminiscent of Erasmus or Rabelais.

But Mama, Why Do We Remember? by Sarah Kain Gutowski

It’s rare to see a poet or filmmaker’s very first attempt at videopoetry turn out as successfully as this. Fortunately the poet and co-director Sarah Kain Gutowski wrote a good blog post detailing her collaboration with the videographer, Paul Turano.

Toward the end of July, P.T. (pictured to the left, doing his tech thing) and I began work on our poetry video collaboration. We recorded the audio, then discussed various images and the sequence in the video, looked at some stock footage, brainstormed, etc. Last week, we met on campus with my little helpers, Miss Talkalot and The Boy, and we managed to film a couple of shots of them as the characters from my fairy tale poem, and then also some shots of the surrounding pine barrens, which are lovely.

This exercise is fun but strange and confusing. I have this idea of the poetry video as a piece of art unto itself, separate and distinct from a printed poem, but as we’re creating this piece I feel like we’re making a poetry video like people make music videos — which can be an art unto itself but is also just as often a simplified representation, with visuals, of what happens in the narrative of a song. I’m really hoping to avoid the latter, but I’m not sure if we’re going to get there, to that place where the video poem is lyric and metaphorical and something beyond illustration.

Do read the rest. It’s always fascinating to hear how a beginning videopoet works through the genre’s unique challenges.

The poem originally appeared (in text form) in the Spring 2015 issue of So To Speak: A Feminist Journal of Language and Art.

Testimonial by Rita Dove

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An animated poem from the Traveling Stanzas public poetry project at Kent State University’s Wick Poetry Center, in which illustrated poetry broadsheets are also given a video form. In this case, the art was the work of Christopher Darling, and the animator was The New Fuel studio. Rita Dove probably needs no introduction.

Despedida / Farewell by Cecília Meireles

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A text by the 20th-century Brazilian poet Cecília Meireles, read and translated into English by the London-based artist Natalie d’Arbeloff, has been translated into film by the indefatigable Belgian videopoet Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon in a lovely and moving tribute to his late mother. He writes:

My mother passed away.
This is a tribute to her and the way she directed her own ending.


The soundtrack is the end of this, re-edited with a reading by the translator Natalie d’Arbeloff. [Bandcamp link]

For the visual part of the video I used a split screen. Footage of leaves floating, a fish, reflections of leaves (by me), an old tea kettle drifiitng on the sea and the shade of a butterfly (Credit to Jan Eerala)

Sober and tranquil.

I know this work is personal, but I think that the beauty of the grief transcends the personal aspect. Anyway enjoy…

I never met Marc’s mother, but I almost feel as if I knew her, since she appeared in a number of his films over the years. I’m honored to have played a small role here in having brought the translation and reading to Marc’s attention by publishing them at my literary blog Via Negativa.

the light – the shade by Robert Lax

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Susanne Wiegner‘s most recent 3D animation of a poem by Robert Lax is among the films scheduled for screening this Saturday, October 17, at Visible Verse in Vancouver, North America’s longest-running videopoetry festival.

To me, this is an excellent example of how a good videopoem can open up a difficult or hermetic text. If I’d encountered Lax’s poem on the page, I doubt I would’ve given it more than ten seconds of my attention before becoming irritated or exasperated, but Wiegner’s animation is so compelling and so full of surprises, its seven minutes went by all too quickly. Here’s what she wrote in the Vimeo description:

“the light – the shade” is a poem by Robert Lax that plays with the contrasts and opposites light and shade, with bright and dark, black and white, red and blue. The film begins with a nighttime scenery in a city, moves into a room and starts watching the movement of the shadows on the wall. Finally the camera enters the screen of a laptop and goes deeper and deeper into the poem. The film becomes a journey through the realm of imagination, through spaces and pictures, through letters and words. In that way the minimal language of the poem is unfolded into unexpected pictures.