Portland, Oregon-based poet Cindy St. Onge is no stranger to Moving Poems, but mostly as the maker of her own videos. This one’s the work of Australian filmmaker Marie Craven, herself a Moving Poems regular, and I love the way she both literalized and extended the poem at the same time. She posted some process notes on her blog last May which are worth quoting in full:
‘St. Umbilicus’ is from a poem by Cindy St. Onge, and is one of my shorter video pieces. As well as a poet, Cindy is a maker of videopoems I admire. She also gave her voice to the soundtrack of this video. This is the second video I’ve made from Cindy’s poetry. The first was ‘Double Life‘. The collaboration was closer on ‘St. Umbilicus’ and grew out of personal chats we had recently on Facebook and via email. These led to me expressing an interest in collaborating further, to which Cindy agreed. The poem is about the navel and its bodily reminder of our connection to our mother. To express this, I chose a very close, still image of a navel to be a ‘frame’ for a series of central images featuring mothers and children. The still image, which rotates slightly throughout the piece, was found on creative commons licence at Flickr. The artist is Linnéa Sjögren. The moving images contained within it are from ‘Scenes at the Beach Club‘, a 1927 home movie from the Prelinger Archives. I selected historic images here to emphasise the timelessness of the theme. Music is by Chris Zabriskie, his ‘Prelude No. 12’ from the ‘Preludes’ album.
I’ve been following Sarah J. Sloat’s erasure poetry project using Stephen King’s Misery ever since it began, on a subsequently deleted Tumblr site, as a poem-a-day project in 2016, and thereafter in various online magazines (such as Tupelo Quarterly and Escape Into Life) as Sloat’s erasures have become ever more visually arresting and imaginative. Just last week there was this interview and feature in Neon Pajamas.
So I was delighted to see a video collaboration between Sarah Sloat and Marie Craven, incorporating images from the erasures in a montage of Marie’s own invention. Here’s how Marie describes it in a just-published blog post:
Sarah Sloat creates hand-made visual art pieces that are also poems. She does this by using various techniques to ‘erase’ most of the words from pages of Stephen King’s novel, ‘Misery’. Her ‘erasures’ leave only scattered words around the page, forming small poems. To these, she adds found images, related to the poems in associative ways that might recall surrealism. With Sarah’s permission and ongoing feedback, I have here selected a number of the visual poetry pieces and adapted them. The video of ‘Misery’ attempts to construct a fragmented narrative, or new poem, from the juxtaposition of the selected visual poetry pieces. It focuses strongly on the image components of Sarah’s ‘Misery’ pages and creates a new form in motion with them. Not a strict ‘presentation’ of Sarah’s visual poetry, the video is my response to their inspiration. Music is by Gurdonark, whose Creative Commons music I have been following for about eight years. Other videos I have made from Sarah Sloat’s poetry are Dictionary Illustrations and Nightlight Ghazal.
Some gorgeous new work from Australian poetry-film collaborators Marie Craven (video concept, edit, effects) and Matt Hetherington (poem and voice), with music by Masonik and film sourced from Mono No Aware. Marie’s process notes (with links added):
‘Light Ghazal’ is the third video collaboration with poet, Matt Hetherington. From across the world, Dave Bonta put us in email contact for the first of these, ‘Orphanage‘. Since then Matt, who lives not far from me here in Australia, has been coming up this way to meet and collaborate in person. This process resulted in the second piece, ‘Everything sleeps but the night‘, and now this latest. It’s kind of radical for me to collaborate in the flesh these days, as most of my collaborations for the past decade, video and music alike, have been net-based. I welcome this recent development. For the soundtrack I selected ‘Inna Sky’ from the ‘Sutol’ album by Fremantle-based Masonik, whose sounds I have also worked with before in my poetry videos. The source footage for the image track is from Mono No Aware in New York, whose films are available on Creative Commons licence at Vimeo. I selected the sections of footage most fitting for this new video and created two layers on top of each other. This was so I could add dimensionality and fx to bring out the hand-processed film textures, as well as bring into sharper presence the ghostly, underlying images on the original film. I love hand-processed film. It seems to emphasise the direct chemical expression of light hitting celluloid and focus us on the materiality of that process. Thus the footage seemed especially relevant to the poem here, which is all about light.
Sending wishes for a peaceful time this season, to friends and family, near and far. Here is a video just completed. Poem by Laura M Kaminski. Music by Benjamin Dauer & Specta Ciera. My video concept and editing.
Cynic that I am, I found the video unexpectedly moving, so I guess it’s fitting that it be Moving Poems’ holiday selection this year. I join Marie and Laura in sending everyone wishes for peace, now and in the New Year.
‘Quiet Sounds’ is my second video collaboration with the marvelous UK poet and performer, Lucy English. Both have been made as part of her great, multi-artist project, ‘The Book of Hours‘. The earlier video, ‘The Last Days‘, started with images. This one started with the poem and sound. The soundscape is comprised entirely of Lucy’s voice and small noises in the environment. I wanted the ‘bed’ of the soundscape to be quietly musical and constructed it from a collection of sounds recorded by various artists, and found on Creative Commons licences at Freesound. The central element is the metronomic sound of a clock ticking. I edited Lucy’s voice in loose rhythm with the clock, elongating the pace of her reading and leaving spaces for the various other sounds to have their ‘solo’ moments: a pheasant and a wood pigeon, a sheep, a cow, an old fridge, air traffic. I carefully built up the soundtrack piece by piece until I had a complete first draft. Then I looked for images that might add further to the audiovisual experience of the poem. The poem describes a moment of solitude, a hush when a woman becomes aware of the little sounds in her environment. It is implied she is inside a domestic space at the time. In my net wanderings, I found a marvelous series of interior shots by Carol Blyberg (aka Smilla4 on Flickr), also available on a Creative Commons licence. I worked with the images using zooms and slow dissolves that changed in rhythm with Lucy’s voice. For such an apparently simple piece, it was time-intensive to make, especially in the refining process that saw both sound and image go through many drafts. I gave a lot of attention to subtle details, in a meditative way. Maureen Doallas has since featured ‘Quiet Sounds’ on her wonderful blog, Writing Without Paper.
See Vimeo for the text of the poem, as well as links to all the soundtrack sources.
The latest addition to the Book of Hours, Lucy English’s multi-filmmaker collaborative poetry film project, is by Marie Craven, who used footage from the 1942 documentary A Child Went Forth and music by Kevin MacLeod. The close fit of text to images paves the way for an especially affecting zinger of a last line.
Incidentally, I gather from Facebook that Lucy is still looking for collaborators. Get in touch with her if you’re interested.