Nationality: United States

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.

Two Poems About X, 2009 and 2014 by Blair Braverman

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An author-made videopoem by Wisconsin-based writer Blair Braverman that combines two poems in the soundtrack, read, one presumes, by the poet herself, for an interesting interplay of text and video imagery. It’s from the Summer/Fall 2016 issue of TriQuarterly, where the video editor Kristen Radtke says this about it:

Blair Braverman’s “Two Poems About X, 2009 and 2014” features dueling narratives, competing for our attention as they volley back and forth, left to right. The viewer must make a choice: focus on one and experience it fully, or alternate between the two and splice them together into a new, tailor-made narrative—a rare quality in a medium where the viewer is often a passive participant. Braverman’s video invites rewatching, and as one narrative becomes familiar, we’re more capable of digesting the other—most interestingly, opening up a space in which we can experience those narratives in conversation. Much of Braverman’s video is concerned with desire made complicated by gender and terrain, and near its end comes one of its most powerful and beautifully voiced lines: “Half my problems come from wishing that men who have been bad to me would be worse, and the men who have been good would confront them.”

I notice by the way that all videos at TriQuarterly now seem to be designated video essays, which is perhaps a good way to side-step the whole controversy about what to call poetry films; their cinepoetry category hasn’t had any new additions since the previous video editor’s departure. Regardless of what they call them, though, it’s great that such a prominent American literary magazine continues to place such value on literary short films. And I’m pleased to see that they now have a fully public page at Vimeo.

It Feels Like ______ . by Gabbi

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A brilliant author-made videopoem I ran across on Vimeo the other day, by Gabbi A.K.A. Gabriella Cisneros, a Milwaukee-based film student who describes herself on Vimeo as an “Artist of various classifications — Documentarian in words—pictures—&—videos — Rememberer”.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot (3)

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Eliot’s enduring poem of male mid-life crisis gets a proper film treatment from Laura Scrivano and actor Daniel Henshall in A Lovesong, the third interpretation of Prufrock I’ve shared here over the years. The description from Vimeo:

‘Do I dare disturb the universe?’

A solitary man wanders the streets of a city, restless with indecision. As he tumbles down a rabbit hole of seedy dive bars, half deserted streets and shots of whiskey, time fractures – and it seems he might be destined to walk these streets forever.

Shot in New York by director Laura Scrivano, A LOVESONG the first film of THE PASSION series and features actor Daniel Henshall, star of AMC’s TURN: WASHINGTON SPIES and SNOWTOWN. thepassionfilms.com

Exploring Daniel’s fascination with poetry and text and the actor’s relationship to the both script and camera, his film takes as its starting point TS Eliot’s poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, considered to be one of the founding texts of modernist poetry.

As for the series which it is initiating:

THE PASSION is an ongoing series of intimate short films, capturing some of the world’s most exciting actors in exclusive, commissioned performances, exploring and re-imagining key texts and modes of performance in contemporary settings.

Each edition of THE PASSION is crafted through a creative conversation with the featured actor, with a script being developed based on a classic text or mode of performance of the actor’s choosing.

Pushing the boundaries between cinema, storytelling, poetry, contemporary art and performance, the films will be as original, dazzling and individual as the talents that create them.

The stories THE PASSION will tell, the talents involved, the dramatic themes illuminated and the strength of each individual performance will make THE PASSION a unique and inspirational digital experience.

Usually in poetry film the most relevant collaboration is between a poet and a filmmaker, so this approach of developing scripts in conversation with actors is intriguing (though it doesn’t sound as if all the texts will be poems). A reply to a comment on Vimeo gives additional detail about the process here:

Director Laura and star Dan spent weeks talking about the poem’s possible interpretations, and on adapting the text, before our DOP was brought in to discuss how to render it on film. We were dreaming in Prufrock by the end of it.

How Do You Raise A Black Child? by Cortney Lamar Charleston

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Cortney Lamar Charleston’s searing poem, from his forthcoming collection Telepathologies (Saturnalia Books, 2017), is brought to the screen by director Seyi Peter-Thomas, Motionpoems and Station Film:

“This poem is about the precarious balance black parents have to strike in order to raise their kids ‘right,’ ” director Seyi Peter-Thomas says of Lamar Charleston’s piece. “It’s wrenching and thought-provoking.” Seyi’s film perfectly communicates this balance as it follows young Malik and his mother navigating life’s highs and lows. The moments of levity and those of unsolicited sobriety explore the complexity of Malik’s experiences as a part of a larger conversation on race and community within today’s uneasy social and political climate.

Seyi says, “Maybe what’s really being asked is how do we save a black child? And, what are the elements we must save them from? It’s a uniquely American conversation, one we’re all having on some level right now.” He hopes viewers will connect with the humanity in the film and also be prompted to ask and answer some questions of their own.

Motionpoems’ newest season of films are based on poems by black American poets, and presented in association with Cave Canem, a home for black poetry.

View more of Seyi’s work HERE.

For Gasoline by James Brush

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Earlier this week, Spanish filmmakers Javi Zurrón (Myblue Audiovisual) and Eduardo Yagüe simultaneously released these two films based on the same poem by the Texas-based writer James Brush, from his collection of road poetry, Highway Sky. In the Myblue Audiovisual version, Brush’s recitation is in the soundtrack, with Yagüe’s Spanish translation in titling; in his own film, Yagüe reads the translation and the original appears on the screen. In their footage and soundtracks, the two films are completely different but complementary, interpreting the text in a similar manner. Aida Riesgo of Myblue Audiovisual stars in both, and Javi Zurrón is the male actor in Yagüe’s Gasolina.

The romance of the automobile is as old as pop music, but usually it’s some specific hot car or motorcycle, not gasoline itself, that is depicted as an object of desire. These videopoems feel simultaneously new and deeply indebted to the music video tradition, not in the soundtrack but in the iconography (a scene of a rock concert, a Ramones t-shirt, a tattoo, etc.).

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