Filmmaker: Chris and Nick Libbey

Steel and Air: untitled prose poem by John Ashbery

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Motionpoems commissioned this film from the Minnesota-based documentary production company Sparky Stories (Chris and Nick Libbey), who describe it on Vimeo as follows:

Steel and Air. Space and time. In the heart of Minneapolis there is an iconic blue and yellow bridge that crosses interstate 394 and connects the Walker Art Museum sculpture garden with Loring Park. Beyond its physical utility, the bridge offers a perspective to its crossers. A perspective of the interstate traffic, of the city, and of the viewer itself.

Inscribed in its lintel is a poem commissioned by the highly-achieved poet, John Ashbery. This poem discusses, in typical Ashbery obscurity, one’s place in the movement of time. The film, Steel and Air, aims to capture and enhance Ashbery’s poem by chronicling a man’s journey through life and the wonderful, boring, and ultimately finite experiences that come with it. And then it got very cool.

The poem first appeared in Ashbery’s collection Hotel Lautréamont (Knopf, 1992).