Nationality: Canada

In the Future by Mike Hoolboom

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The history of poetry in film can be seen to have two main branches: the cinematic and the classically poetic. In cinematic history, the two were brought together almost from the start, with the avant garde and experimental movements of the early 20th century.

This genre of film was first explored in the 1920s by French Impressionists Germaine Dulac, Louis Delluc, Man Ray, Hans Richter, and others. In the mid-1960s and early 1970s this genre was further explored by the Beat Generation poets Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, and Herman Berlandt, and developed into a festival held annually at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, California. (Wikipedia)

Poetry itself has its origins in the oral forms of ancient times, adapting and evolving over the last millennium with the arrival of the new technology of the printing press. It has been combined over time with art and music. Poetry film now marries audio and time-based visual media with the printed and spoken forms of poetry. There seems little doubt there are other emerging manifestations of poetry happening now.

In the Future, written and directed by Canadian experimental film-maker Mike Hoolboom, is from 1998. It is a piece complete in itself, but also part of a longer feature film, Imitations of Life, that is made up of several parts.

In a recent bio, Mike describes himself this way:

Born: Korean War, the pill, hydrogen bomb, playboy mansion. 1980s: Film emulsion fetish and diary salvos. Schooling at the Funnel: collective avant-geek cine utopia. 1990s: failed features, transgressive psychodramas, questions of nationalism. 2000s: Seroconversion cyborg (life after death), video conversion: feature-length, found footage bios. Fringe media archaeologist: author of 7 books, editor/co-editor 12 books. Curator: 30 programs. Copyleft yes. Occasional employments: artistic director Images Fest, fringe distribution Canadian Filmmakers. 80 film/vids, most redacted. 9 features. 30 awards, 12 international retrospectives. 2 lifetime achievement awards. 24 books, 15 mags, 40 interviews, 100+ essays, 40 sound clips.

Indeed, his contribution to the contemporary field of experimental film is substantial. He is deservedly considered by many to be one of its greatest living artists.

In the Future draws its sublime image stream from moments in films from many sources. Most of these are unrecognisable from their original context. Its text is given visually on screen, a deep poetic meditation on photographic media and its relation to human identity. The film is prophetic in its vision of a world in which every moment will be photographed, until at last our identities become indistinguishable from photographs themselves. Prophetic again is its apocalyptic sense of where this might take us. This film from over 20 years ago seems even more relevant today.

Letter by Doyali Islam

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Filmmaker: Amrita Singh


Filmmaker: Laurice Oliveira


Filmmaker: Jane Glennie

A poem from Canadian poet Doyali Islam‘s second collection, heft, gets three different film interpretations, thanks to the wondrous Visible Poetry Project, which released these on April 12. I’ll take the liberty of lifting their bios for each of the filmmakers (though Jane Glennie is probably already familiar to many Moving Poems readers):

Amrita Singh is a writer/director born in Chennai and raised in Chicago. She’s currently attending NYU Tisch’s Graduate Film Program and developing her thesis film about a ruthless spelling bee wunderkind and her immigrant family.

Born in Brazil, Laurice Oliveira bravely moved to NYC with the ambitious hope of becoming a filmmaker. In her long journey to The Big Apple, Laurice met the unseen people and listened to unheard voices. From people of the poorest Brazilian slums to abused immigrant workers in the US, Laurice has made her goal to tell the stories of people that often do not have the privilege of being seen or heard by society.

Jane Glennie is an artist, filmmaker and typographic designer. Previous projects include an installation at The National Centre for the Written Word in the UK, and the publication of ‘A New Dictionary of Art’. Her videopoetry has been awarded a special mention at the Weimar Poetry Film Award in Germany and she was a finalist for Best Production One Minute or Under at Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival 2018. Poetry films have been selected for festivals in the UK, USA, France, Germany, Ireland and Singapore.

Canoe by Kate Marshall Flaherty

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Mark Korven directs this adaptation of a poem by Kate Marshall Flaherty, one of a series of three such films supported by a grant program associated with the Georgian Bay Land Trust,

integrating [Flaherty’s] performance poetry with the original music of award-winning composer and film-maker Mark Korven […] Set against the memorable backdrop of Georgian Bay landscapes, these films will highlight the jack pines and quartz rocks of the shorelines, striving to capture in word, sound and image the unique character of this region.

Watch all three films on Korven’s Vimeo page.

Satori en veille (Standby satori) by Jean Coulombe: three selections

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These are numbers 3, 7 and 15 from a 20-part series of videopoems made for an exhibition last year in Quebec City by Jean Coulombe and Gilbert Sévigny, AKA Éditions VA. The haiku-like texts are by Coulombe, they collaborated on the videos, and the sounds are credited to Marie-Louise. The exhibition itself consisted of “20 tableaux ayant pour thématique la basse-ville de Québec. Chaque tableau était jumelé à un vidéo poème accessible sur internet, par un code QR” (20 pictures about downtown Quebec City. Each picture was twinned to a vidéo-poem linked on the web with a QR code). The exhibition catalogue is online in PDF form.

Many of the texts are coffee-themed, and I gather the exhibition was in a coffee shop. Satori in Zen means awakening, so it makes sense to refer to the effect of caffeine as a sort of satori on stand-by. There’s a preface in the catalogue called “Un petit moment” (A small moment) which I ran through Google Translate (I don’t know much French):

Each passing day gives us a chance to appreciate small moments. Stopping for coffee is one of them.

This special moment allows reflection and even in some cases a form of meditation.

What remains afterward?

Of course, in our minds a lot of things are floating around: daydreams, inner dialogues or observations. But there is also the physical and ephemeral presence of this little “ring” left by the cup of coffee on the table. One does not notice it, and yet one is witness to the discreet happiness of this tiny moment.

I love everything about this exhibition and these brief videopoems. Watch all 20 on the Éditions Victor & Anita Vimeo page, or click through to the YouTube versions from the exhibition catalogue.

Never Say Never Say Never by Patrick James Errington

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From British director Adele Myers, a film based on a poem by Patrick James Errington. Here’s the description from Vimeo:

Savouring their last moments, a couple struggle with letting go. They must, but breaking up is hard to do.

This short film is based on an original poem written by Patrick Errington. The poem was commended in the National Poetry Competition 2016, Poetry Society (UK). This film was commissioned by FilmPoem and original adaptation was produced entirely in Fujairah UAE.

The actors are Layla Al Khouri and Sanoop Din. For a full list of credits, see Poetry Film Live.

Practicing Like Water by Kate Marshall Flaherty

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A new film by Lori H. Ersolmaz based on a poem by Canadian poet Kate Marshall Flaherty. Click through to Vimeo for the text.

UPDATE: Read Lori’s process notes at Moving Poems Magazine.

Regina by Lina Ramona Vitkauskas

Lithuanian-American-Canadian poet Lina Ramona Vitkauskas has been directing a series of short but powerful cinepoems for her collection White Stockings with the help of visual artist Tess Cortés (editing, arrangement and score). Watch the others on Vimeo. They deserve many more views than they have received so far.