Filmmaker: Cindy St. Onge

My Lover’s Pretty Mouth by Cindy St. Onge

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This author-made videopoem by the Oregon-based poet Cindy St. Onge is

the first in a series of Japanese/English poems that are part of process which is reflective and purgative. Soundtrack created with Garage Band, footage sourced from Videoblocks and Shutterstock, and edited with Movie Maker.

Read the text (in both languages) at St. Onge’s blog.

Intrigued, I contacted Cindy to ask if she’d like to say anything more about her process. She wrote:

These poems that are coming through are what I call ‘telegraphed,’ in that there is little contrivance involved until the revision happens. The meaning of “…Mouth” wasn’t clear to me until I had completed the video.

The poems are rooted in my difficult relationship with Japanese culture, after being married to a Japanese man many years ago. The mystery, to me, is the sudden and spontaneous telegraphing. Honestly, I don’t understand it. At this point, I’m just trying to be a good conduit for the poems, and if I get closure, even better.

As for the bilingual process, the poems were drafted in English with a smattering of Japanese, and I realized as I recited one of the poems that I loved how the Japanese sounded, how the word felt in my mouth, and determined to translate the whole poem — as an experiment. I haven’t spoken Japanese in 25 years, so I had to research most of it, relearning the language, really. As the translation got underway, the Japanese shaped the English revision of the poems, so there was this back-and-forth construction happening. It’s riling up memories, but it’s very satisfying at the same time.

Sandra’s Constellation and the Black Hole in Conroe by Cindy St. Onge

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Portland, Oregon-based poet Cindy St. Onge‘s latest videopoem is an ambitious departure from her usual remixes. I’ll let her explain:

“Sandra’s Constellation…” is anchored by the poem I wrote after seeing Werner Herzog’s documentary, “Into the Abyss,” specifically, it’s my reaction to the crime scene footage. The poem is my attempt to process the artifacts of Sandra Stotler’s last moments before she was shot twice by Michael Perry, in juxtaposition to the gruesome aftermath of her murder (October, 2001).

The last stanza of the poem essentially describes the beginning of the crime scene tape, captured by Conroe law enforcement, as they walk into her home days after she’d been murdered, and her body discarded in a nearby lake. Thank you to my sister in law, Mary, who portrayed Sandra in this video.
You can read about the Herzog documentary here.

What Leslie Meant to Say by Cindy St. Onge

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A brief, author-made videopoem by Cindy St. Onge, responding to a voicemail which she’s included at the beginning of the video. This is the the sort of simple, straight-forward video remix that, to my mind, any working poet these days should learn how to make as a matter of course, because sometimes a poem needs to be more than just words on a page. As St. Onge noted on Vimeo:

The video, not the poem, is my response to the much-too-chipper voicemail notifying me that my best friend’s ashes are ready to retrieve. The title gave me the idea for the video, so I changed the first person confessional poem to second person, and achieved a bit of satisfaction.

First Aid to Control Bleeding by Cindy St. Onge

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Cindy St. Onge calls this “a video remix dirge.” To me, it’s political remix videopoetry done right: responsive to the political moment yet aesthetically balanced and restrained, and highly imaginative in its juxtaposition of image and text (from a first aid manual). St. Onge includes just long enough of a clip from the cellphone video of a dying Philando Castile for the content to register with the viewer, but not so much that it seems disrespectful or exploitative, I think.

Elegy for a Hymen by Cindy St. Onge

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An author-made videopoem by Cindy St. Onge, using footage sourced from Shutterstock and a soundtrack by Jeff Beal, according to the Vimeo description.

God’s Dilemma by Cindy St. Onge

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A thought-provoking author-made videopoem from Cindy St. Onge with well-chosen stock footage and music by Caveone. You can read St. Onge’s description on Vimeo, though I feel the film is best approached without knowing what she had in mind initially.

Children of the Nephilim (excerpt) by Cindy St. Onge

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This author-made videopoem by Cindy St. Onge juxtaposes footage from Trump rallies with footage from Nazi concentration camps, along with other images. The choice of music for the soundtrack (by the Masonik collective) feels especially inspired. The Vimeo description:

This video is based on a poem which was originally titled “Free Range Citzens.”
Have you noticed that with the proliferation of technology and mobile devices, that we so rarely look up anymore? We should wonder about that.
Poem, concept and editing by Cindy St. Onge. Footage from Videoblocks, Cindy St. Onge, CSpan, Right Side Broadcasting. Soundtrack by Masonik.
Full text of poem can be read here: exhibitapoems.wordpress.com/2016/03/21/children-of-the-nephilim/

St. Onge has posted two versions of the videopoem; here’s the other.

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