A text from Sheila Packa’s new book Night Train Red Dust: Poems of the Iron Range.
These poems are about the Iron Range in Minnesota, the Vermilion Trail, and they are stories of travel and derailment about mining, radical politics, unionizing, accordion music and strong women. The book brings together history, geology and the community of people with iron in their veins.
Video artist and cellist Kathy McTavish, Packa’s regular collaborator, describes this as “a screen recording of a database driven web film,” and Packa talks about how that intersects with her writing style in a post at her blog:
I strive to re-create the flows of the northeastern Minnesota landscape, and I borrow metaphors that express the pattern of change in individual stories and narrative poems: the erosions, floods, migrations, lightning strikes, industrialization, excavation, mining, roads, and harbors. Night Train Red Dust will become part of a new transmedia media project, and I can’t wait to get started! [...]
My Geology is a poem that taught me how powerful is our landscape. I placed it first in my book, Night Train Red Dust. The places where we walk enter into us; in my case, as a child, I walked across the vein of iron and taconite on the Iron Range. There is an ASCII art image behind the video in My Geology that rotates on a near/far axis, evoking a map or contract or a train car. In this section, numbers were entered into the input box, and they cascade like taconite down a chute into the hold of a freighter. [...] The music used found sound (a soprano sax, both notes and the musician blowing air through the instrument) and cello by Kathy McTavish.
I’ve also been encountering the text incrementally in a dedicated Twitter feed, @nighttrainred — another example of Packa and McTavish’s interest in innovative technological reproductions of “flows.”
This is the rest, another of Kathy McTavish‘s mesmerizing pieces of sound art and kinestatic imagery. Three poems by Michelle Matthees in type form—”The Gardner Hotel,” “Bouquets” and “The Rest”—scroll slowly up the screen against a background (or is it a foreground?) of shifting shapes and tones.
This hypnotic combination of kinetic text, video and sound art represents a collaboration between Duluth, Minnesota-based poet Kathleen Roberts (text, reading) and musician/artist Kathy McTavish (music and images) for the Wildwood River micropress.
It’s been too long since I last featured one of Kathy McTavish‘s lovely pieces of cello-accompanied video art for a poem by her regular collaborator, poet Sheila Packa. This is a piece from Packa’s new collection, Cloud Birds.
Most of the time, videos that consist only of still images don’t seem like a good fit for a site called Moving Poems, but McTavish’s videos are too full of life and movement to exclude.
This comprises the first panel of Propolis, the videopoem triptych produced by Swoon Bildos, Whale Sound (Nic Sebastian) and Cello Dreams (Kathy McTavish). According to the extremely interesting process notes for the project, Swoon took the lead in determining the artistic direction (inspired by Turner, Goya and Bacon, he says) and finding and getting permission for the footage to fit that vision, but his two collaborators took an active role in shaping it, in addition to providing the soundtrack, so I’ve listed all three of them together as filmmakers. I’m departing from tradition and putting up three posts today, because the three videos in the triptych belong together (but the poet-centric format here prevents me from putting them all in one post). Please visit the Propolis website for the full experience, which includes a special mashup of all three videos which I won’t share here, plus the aforementioned process notes and a paragraph on each of the contributors, including this one about Donna Vorreyer:
Donna Vorreyer spends her days convincing middle-schoolers that words matter. Her work has appeared in many journals including Weave, Cider Press Review, qaartsiluni, and Rhino. She is the author of the chapbooks, Womb/Seed/Fruit (Finishing Line Press) and Come Out, Virginia (Naked Mannekin Press) and a contributor to the blog Voice Alpha. You can visit her online at her blog Put Words Together; Make Meaning or her website www.donnavorreyer.com
The site also includes the text of the poem.