Nationality: United States

Woke Up Asleep by Meghan McDonald

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A new videopoem from Meghan McDonald, a New York-based “Sound experimenter, visual poet, micro filmmaker and absurdist,” not to mention master of the succinct Twitter bio. Here’s the YouTube description:

“Woke Up Asleep” is a poetry video about awakening from the daily routines that seem to put us all in a fear-stricken daze. “The gutless” go on silently in order, but those who choose to step out of line are seen as mad.

knuckleshop by Cecelia Chapman and Jeff Crouch

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Just uploaded to Vimeo, this 2008 videopoem is from the long-time video-making partnership of artists Jeff Crouch and Cecelia Chapman:

Cecelia Chapman’s work explores the image in communication and revolves around environmental and cultural transformation.
For the past ten years Chapman has been collaborating with artist Jeff Crouch, with performer Christa Hunter, and with sound artists she meets online to produce short new media video.

The music here is by Crouch, as are the drawings. Rarely does one see an ekphrastic poetry video that succeeds as a separate artwork in its own right. Perhaps part of the key here is that Crouch’s sketches satisfy what I think of as the Konyvesian imperative: “In a successful videopoem, the work’s elements contain a collaborative property, an original incompleteness.” (Tom Konyves, In Retrospect: A Manifesto and its Underpinnings, p. 3.)

Aleppo by Howie Good

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A new videopoem by Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon for a poem by Howie Good. Soundbites from Al Jazeera appear in the soundtrack together with Marc’s original music. When he shared it on Facebook, he included a brief note about its origin:

Howie Good wrote a strong poem, Aleppo. It called me and in one burst I created this video/soundpiece yesterday. Enjoy!

And a few days later, he indicated it might lead to more Swoon videopoems this year. Fingers crossed!

Song for Koko by Tommy Becker

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A poetic music video or a musical videopoem? Tommy Becker‘s videos for his Tape Number One project are hard to categorize, which is why I haven’t featured them here as often as I should. They blend “the artist’s poetics, songwriting, performance, costuming with found footage and computer design,” according to the statement on his website.

“Song for Koko” is from 2015. The accompanying text on Vimeo reads:

An elephant escapes from the circus and begins a rampage down a city street. His trunk tosses aside everything in his path. We cheer for him. Why? A man sits on an alligator and attempts to tie his mouth shut. The alligator contorts his body, throwing the man off before turning to bite. We are unsympathetic. Why? We take our children to the zoo to look at the monkeys. The children complain about their inactivity and we feel a sense of betrayal as we admit to ourselves that our observations are a fraud. What’s important in these situations of conflict and captivity is that we are seeing animals as equals. They are no longer the lesser species. A life force is being held against its will or once again running wild through the streets. The moment the lion lunges at the tamer we understand his motives. We relate viscerally to his oppression as we connect to the soul of its being.

Rapunzel Brings Her Women’s Studies Class to the Tower by Susan J. Erickson

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Bellingham, Washington-based poet Susan J. Erickson reads a poem from her 2016 collection Lauren Bacall Shares a Limousine in this film by poet and editor Ellie A. Rogers. The soundtrack is by Louis McLaughlin.

Rogers has just blogged about making the film:

Susan J. Erickson has red cowboy boots and impeccable diction. She’s a poet hero of mine who I met back in the land of Douglas fir, though we’re both ladies of the 10,000 lakes.

Sue won the Brick Road Poetry Press prize last year, and her book, Lauren Bacall Shares a Limousine, is out now. Her collection of lady persona poems is tonally diverse, smart, and powerful.

Sue asked me to make a book trailer for her. We chose to work with her poem “Rapunzel Brings Her Women’s Studies Class to the Tower” partially because I now live near a giant bell tower and tracts of forest, but mostly because this poem is a linchpin poem. Rapunzel is trying to “relinquish the rib of victimhood.” She pushes back against the story we tell about her. She tells her class “your voices are searchlights that can sweep the horizon to reveal fault lines and illuminate passage.” What a good lesson.

Moments That Breathe by Meghan McDonald

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An author-made video from 2015 by Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Meghan McDonald, who evidently stumbled upon the idea of videopoetry herself, judging by what she wrote on YouTube:

This little tidbit is an idea I’ve been crafting for a while. It is intended to literally bring an imagery aspect to poetry (like a music video, but with poetry). I also wanted to incorporate beautiful moments that take place every day that may be overlooked.

Last year she uploaded six more videos to her Poetry Videos playlist, in addition to going busking across the U.S. Definitely someone to keep an eye on.

No Black Scorpion Is Falling Upon This Table by Aaron Fagan

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An author-made videopoem by Aaron Fagan from 2014. Fagan has been experimenting with video for a number of years now, initially in collaboration with visual artists Jeffrey Schell and K. Erik Ino. In more recent years he’s been mostly working on his own, and he described his philosophy about multimedia poetry in an interview with huck magazine (which also featured this poem and video):

Why did you decide to turn some of your poems into videos?
I wanted to use sound and image with the poems for texture and offer a different, hopefully more inviting, way to experience poetry. I’m not looking for any literal relationship, I just like how the language, the music, and the image correspond with each other like a dialogue.

The interesting thing about making the videos is that it was totally arbitrary. The length of the movies, the length of the poems, and the length of the songs drove it all. I had a few movies I made with my phone and a few I used my phone to film stuff I liked online off my laptop. So that became a collection of images I liked. Then I looked at a bunch of poems I recorded in a friend’s studio back in 2010. If a film and a poem were the same length I just dumped them together and found a piece of music in my music library that was the same length. They are all like these happy accidents to me. They seem harmonised.

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