Filmmaker: James Brush

Fable by Howie Good: Moving Poems contest winners (2)

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1ST PLACE: Swoon

This video captures the nightmarish aura of the poem, but at the same time becomes a separate work of art. It does more than interpret the poem; it reinvents the poem in a new medium. Its propulsive imagery, editing, and soundtrack create an unnerving sense of urgency that the original never attained, but that it greatly profits from in its second life as a video.


2ND PLACE: Rachel Laine

This video gives precedence to the poem’s words, but without sacrificing or marginalizing visuals. In fact, the dense, gloomy background visuals and monotone music heighten the tragic sense of the poem, punctuating its doomsday storyline and elegiac atmosphere.


3RD PLACE: James Brush

The most visually crisp of the videos submitted, it also uses some of the most unexpected imagery, as when the word “cornfield” is blackened out in the text. And how can you not love that ukele being plinked in the background.


Thanks again to all the entrants, congratulations to the winners, and thanks to Howie for acting as judge. (Those are his blurbs for each of the prize winners.) I’m very pleased with how this contest turned out: the goal was to showcase a diversity of approaches to the poetry-film or videopoetry genre, and I think we succeeded in doing that.

I am very open to suggestions for future contests. I don’t want to sponsor contests so often that they become a chore, but I’m not sure I want to wait a whole year before doing another one, either, so maybe in three to six months… I also don’t want to do the exact same thing next time with a different poem, unless perhaps it’s a radically different kind of poem; I’d rather come up with a novel challenge. Feel free to email me or leave comments with your ideas.

The Ramble by James Brush

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James’ first video haiku — see his blog post about it.

drylung by Clayton T. Michaels

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This is the video my co-editor Beth Adams and I commissioned at qarrtsiluni in support of the soon-to-be-released winner of our 2010 poetry chapbook contest, Watermark by Clayton T. Michaels. James Brush wrote about why he elected to envideo this poem, and what influenced his choice of imagery, at his blog Coyote Mercury.

Watermark was chosen by the noted nonfiction author and naturalist Ken Lamberton, who was impressed by the “wonderfully controlled surreal and mesmerizing quality” of the poems. The print edition is already available for ordering ahead of the official launch on Monday, August 30, when we’ll also unveil online and podcast versions. We’re also running a series of poems from the other ten finalists at qarrtsiluni between now and then, hoping in part to interest other micropublishers in snatching up some of these terrific manuscripts (would that we could publish and release videopoems for every one of them!).

God Bless Johnny Cash by James Brush

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Poet and blogger James Brush’s very first go at the videopoem genre.

I haven’t made a video for fun in 16 years. Perhaps it was the time spent working on film sets in the early ’90s, but I lost interest somewhere along the way. The inspiration for this came from Christine Swint’s “Anybody’s Child” and Dave Bonta’s post on poets and technology over at Very Like a Whale. In the comments I mentioned that I have a film degree and probably should take a crack at doing a video poem sometime.

Then, this evening, I was about to post this poem along with audio of me reading. The poem started with some pictures I had taken of my guitar with the iphone Hipstamatic app, and I thought it would be cool to put one of the pictures up. Next thing I knew, I was building this video.

The “music” is something I recorded a few years back by overdubbing several tracks of me playing my guitar (well, really I was mostly playing the amplifier) and my wife’s bass. I’m not sure if it’s too loud, but I was trying to submerge the voice a little bit without losing too much clarity.

The post also includes the text of the poem. James’ film expertise really shows here, I think: the mix of sound and images is just right, and there’s just enough movement going on for this to qualify in my mind as a “moving poem,” even though, as he says, he was inspired in part by a recent, high-quality slideshow-video from Christine Swint. I love seeing poetry-blogger friends experiment with multimedia, and I’m proud of whatever small role I might have played in helping to make that happen.