Nationality: United States

Never Too Late by Malcolm London

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Just in time for Thanksgiving, a meditation on the power of family, community and love from Chicago-based poet Malcolm London and filmmaker Caves for Heart Of The City TV, in collaboration with Irish graffiti artist Maser. It was posted to YouTube in December 2013 with this description:

Chicago met Dublin a little over a month ago when we linked with Malcolm London and renowned Irish graffiti artist Maser for their “Never Too Late To Love” collaborative mural. Today, we drop the visuals. Enjoy.

If you’d like to check out the mural go to La Baguette Bakery’s alley on 2109 S Ashland Ave (at 21st St).

I looked up Malcolm London today because he’s in the news, but unfortunately not in a good way: he’s one of five activists who were arrested by Chicago police last night for what sounds very much like the usual trumped-up bullshit used by American police to punish people for exercising their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly:

One of the five protesters arrested in the Loop in the hours after the release of the Laquan McDonald video is an aspiring poet who has garnered national attention and was one of the organizers of the march.

Malcolm London, 22, of the 4900 block of West Huron in the Austin neighborhood, was charged with aggravated battery to a police officer, a felony, after he allegedly struck a cop, according to the Police Department.

He faces the most serious charge of those arrested during the demonstration, which lasted for hours and briefly stopped traffic on the Eisenhower Expressway.

London is accused of striking an officer in the 100 block of East Balbo Drive as police blocked protesters from marching across the bridge. He is scheduled to appear in bond court later Wednesday.

Supporters have created a Free Malcolm London hashtag and have urged people to call police to demand that he be released.

“He was just standing there and the police snatched him up,” tweeted the Black Youth Project 100, which organized Tuesday night’s march. London is listed as a co-chair of the organization’s Chicago chapter.

London is a member of the Young Adult Council of the Steppenwolf Theater and appeared on PBS for a TED Talk with John Legend and Bill Gates. In 2011, he won the Louder Than A Bomb youth poetry slam in his Chicago, according to a biography on his website.

In 2012, just graduated from Lincoln Park High School, London talked to the Tribune about growing up in Austin and how it affected his work.

“There are a lot of kids like me in places like this, places kind of pushed into the shadows by the people who run this city,” he said. “We have stories to tell, stories not told in the news and media. I am getting the chance to tell mine, and others can too.”

In September of that year, he made his national television debut in “Verses & Flow,” a series that features musical and poetry performances.

(Read the rest.) Three of the five activists are charged only with “resisting police officer,” which is one clear sign that this is B.S. Follow the #FreeMalcolmLondon hashtag on Twitter for updates. Please consider helping Malcolm and the other arrested activists raise money for their bond so they can get home for Thanksgiving. And be sure to visit Malcolm’s website for more videos of him performing his poetry.

UPDATE (25 Nov., 7:56 PM): The charges against Malcolm London were dropped and he was released this afternoon.

[A]fter an outcry from fellow activists, who said London did not hit an officer and was standing peacefully when he was targeted by police and arrested, the charges against London were dismissed Wednesday afternoon.

We grow accustomed to the Dark by Emily Dickinson

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An animation by Hannah Jacobs, part of a series called “Poetry of Perception” for the Harvard University course Fundamentals of Neuroscience. Here’s the Vimeo description:

An eight-part series ( on representations of perception and sensation made for “Both artists and scientists strive, even if in different ways, toward the goal of discovering new uniformities or lawful regularities.” Hermann Helmholtz

Words by Emily Dickinson
Animation by Hannah Jacobs
Narration by Anna Martine
Sound + Music by Oswald Skillbard
Produced by Nadja Oertelt

Hat-tip: Cinematic Poems, a blog somewhat like Moving Poems that’s dedicated to what it calls “an important emerging creative short film genre.”

All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace by Richard Brautigan

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Richard Brautigan‘s famous 1967 poem may be treated as holy writ by Silicon Valley dipshits who pray for the advent of the singularity, but that doesn’t stop it from being a fascinating cultural artifact in its own right. So I was pleased to see this fine student film by Edward Phillips Hill, which also includes something I’ve never seen before: process notes right in the end credits.

  • stop animation because it’s a physical/tactile medium
  • the other images that flash by are either screen captures of social media or images taken from my phone camera while looking at social media, in essence looking through the technology seeing what is being ignored
  • the music was chosen as it resembles a techno song yet played by acoustic instruments, thus furthering the duality of modern life & the constant push and pull between ‘technological’ life and ‘real’ life

The Long Deployment by Jehanne Dubrow

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In honor of Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, and in the U.S., Veteran’s Day, here’s a poem by Jehanne Dubrow adapted by Nicole McDonald for Motionpoems, whose monthly email newsletter describes it as “a love letter to all who’ve had a loved one overseas.” The poem is from Dubrow’s new collection The Arranged Marriage (University of New Mexico Press, 2015). Read interviews conducted by Jenny Factor with both the poet and the director on the Motionpoems website. I was impressed by the depth of the McDonald’s feeling for the poem and for literature generally:

The poem itself is so lush, so I experimented tremendously…I felt texture and light was key. A balance of dreamy, stark, and intimate shots. And so the wardrobe also needed to be balanced with this thinking. I adore the dress Britt Bogan wears in the last section, as it captures light so beautifully in its delicate textured details, just as Britt’s character does. […]

Homer has always had an impact on my art, especially his use of Dawn as a character (“rosy-fingered dawn…” I adore those visual transitions.). And Penelope of course was the role model of undisputed patience and blind faith. Buuut, I’ve often wondered what kind of life she lived while she waited? What did she miss out on because of those virtues? Are they virtues…? When do we release the pause button and press play?

I also liked this quote from Dubrow:

I was thrilled that the filmmaker created a visual vocabulary for the villanelle form. She repeats and overlaps images (particularly of a woman who often uses the same gestures or movements again and again) to embody the musical refrains and interlocking rhyme schemes of the villanelle. In this way, the film is a great teaching text; it offers a visual representation of the fixed form, enacting the villanelle’s obsessive rhetoric, its maddening desire to solve the unsolvable.

Be sure to read the rest (and see Vimeo for the full credits).

Somewhat parenthetically, I can’t help noticing that in a year of poetry films produced in partnership with VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, this is one of the few that also has a female director, which presumably reflects a gender imbalance in the filmmaking industry at large. In the international poetry-film and videopoetry scenes specifically, however, many of the most innovative directors and animators right now are women: people such as Kate Greenstreet, Kathy McTavish, Martha McCollough, Lori Ersolmaz, Cheryl Gross, Kate Sweeney, Helen Dewbery, Marie Craven, Ebele Okoye, Nissmah Roshdy, Susanne Weigener, Anzhela Bogachenko, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, and Motionpoems’ own Angella Kassube. It will be interesting to see whether this continues to be the case as poetry film attracts more attention, or whether men will gradually take it over as so often happens when an art or profession becomes more prestigious. I hope that those of us who care about the genre can help prevent that from happening by making special efforts to enlist, reward, and draw attention to female directors.

Break and Remake by Martha McCollough

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A new videopoem by artist and poet Martha McCollough always makes me do a little dance of pure delight. Break and Remake debuted on Atticus Review a week ago, and I’ve held off on sharing it till now (not wanting to steal their thunder) only with great difficulty. Here’s how McCollough introduced it:

Break and Remake came out of thinking about the recombined creatures in myths and in the margins of medieval manuscripts. The whole video is broken and reassembled, as are the griffins, chimeras, and other monsters within the video. The text is also a hybrid, combining overheard remarks, a line from a song by Son House and computer-generated text from spam.

The Colors We Ascribe by Emi Mahmoud

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Death loves my people, the way they fall asleep at its feet…

Sudanese-American poet Emtithal “Emi” Mahmoud is originally from Darfur, and is now a senior at Yale. She was crowned the 2015 Individual World Poetry Slam (iWPS) Champion on October 10, and has just been featured in The Guardian: “Darfur poet triumphs in international poetry slam.” Here she is performing at the National Poetry Slam in a video from Button Poetry, a Minnesota-based organization that “produces and distributes poetry media, including: video from local and national events, chapbooks, collaborative audio recordings, scholarship and criticism, and many other products.” On YouTube, they release a new poetry video every day.

Click through to the Guardian to read “Mama,” the poem with which Mahmoud won the iWPS championship.

Tiny Machine by Dave Malone

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An author-made videopoem by Dave Malone that also functions as a trailer for his book O: Love Poems from the Ozarks (TS Poetry Press, 2015). The music is by Wayne Blinne. (H/t: tweetspeak.)