Nationality: United States

Things I Carry Into the World by Cynthia Manick

This unusual and ambitious poetry film, created for the seventh season of Motionpoems by directors Jamil McGinnis and Pat Heywood, includes words from five different NYC poets, as Heywood explained in an email (links added):

The film is an adaptation of the poem ‘Things I Carry Into the World’ by Cynthia Manick. It’s an abstract meditation on the body, the feminine, the everyday realities of being young and black, and the fragility between the manmade and the natural. We worked with an incredible nonprofit, Urban Word NYC, who teamed us up with four poets: Esther Aloba, Nkosi Nkululeko, Makayla Posely, and Trace DePass, the scenes featuring them are actually adaptations of their own poems, heard briefly in the opening scene. We ended up with moments from four separate films, crafted under the umbrella of Cynthia Manick’s original poem. We found adapting poetry into film to be creatively liberating. Sort of like putting together a thematic puzzle; juxtaposing images, observing, asking questions, and finding moments of meditation to digest the poem’s text. We had our theater premiere at the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis on October 27 and our online premiere on NOWNESS on November 6.

The poems excerpted at the beginning are “untitled” by Makayla Posely, “Rule #1” by Esther Aloba, “band-aids & other temporary healings” by Trace DePass, and “From the Inside” by Nkosi Nkululeko. See Vimeo for the complete credits.

Od’e Miikan / Heart Line (Moose version) by Heid E. Erdrich

The latest videopoem collaboration between Heid E. Erdrich (poetry, voiceover), Jonathan Thunder (animation), and Trevino Brings Plenty (music)

arose out of Erdrich’s vision and understanding of Ojibwe/Anishinaabe star knowledge as told to her by elders and in the Ojibwe Star Map.nativeskywatchers.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/NSW_OjibweNorth.pdf
In Ojibwe cosmology, the figure seen hunting corresponds to the constellation known to others as Scorpio. Mooz corresponds to the constellation known to others as Pegasus. The Wolf Trail or Ma’iingn Miikan is the motion of the stars across the year, also known as the ecliptic.

This poemo exists in two forms, one with Heid’s voice auto tuned to wolf sounds and one with Heid’s voice auto tuned to moose sounds. You can here composer Trevino Brings Plenty talking about the process here: youtube.com/watch?v=mwIo5THOPNA

This poem film was created to align with the large, interactive animated creatures Wolf and Moose, the Creative City Challenge 2016 Winner that was directed by artist Christopher Lutter with collaborative partners Heid E. Erdrich, Kim Ford, Karl Stroerzinger, Coal Dorius, and Missy Adzick.

What Leslie Meant to Say by Cindy St. Onge

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A brief, author-made videopoem by Cindy St. Onge, responding to a voicemail which she’s included at the beginning of the video. This is the the sort of simple, straight-forward video remix that, to my mind, any working poet these days should learn how to make as a matter of course, because sometimes a poem needs to be more than just words on a page. As St. Onge noted on Vimeo:

The video, not the poem, is my response to the much-too-chipper voicemail notifying me that my best friend’s ashes are ready to retrieve. The title gave me the idea for the video, so I changed the first person confessional poem to second person, and achieved a bit of satisfaction.

Off the Trail: poetry by Michael McClure and Gary Snyder

This film, a selection from the longer experimental documentary Headlands Lookout by Jacob Cartwright and Nick Jordan, was awarded the prize for Best Poetry Film at this year’s ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival “For a pre-apocalyptic journey [with] a perfect guide in a stitched uniform into a world that’s going to unravel itself.” Here’s how Jordan describes it on his website:

Walk the path, sit the rains, grind the ink, wet the brush, unroll the broad white space….Lead out and tip the moist, black line.

Gary Snyder’s invocation to the muse of a Chinese scroll painter sets the tone in a short film adapted from Cartwright and Jordan’s longer work, Headlands Lookout.

Filmed in former US military barracks, and in the long-abandoned homes and circular library of Gary Snyder and Zen philosopher Alan Watts, Off the Trail follows a central protagonist, a soldier from another era, as he performs a series of actions and rituals. The uniformed figure paints Chinese nature symbols, chants, meditates and wanders dreamlike through a rolling Californian landscape of fog-shrouded hills, coastal defences and dense woodland valleys. Scenes are accompanied by haiku and poetry readings from Michael McClure and Gary Snyder, and the disembodied voice of Alan Watts, ruminating upon the passage of time and our perception of the ‘wild’.

As someone who studied Japanese and Chinese literature at university, there were parts of this that made me wince — the inept brush calligraphy, for example, and occasionally simplistic or misleading characterizations of Daoist and Buddhist thought — but I do recognize the historical importance of mid-20th-century writers such as Watts and Snyder in bringing East Asian thinking to a Western audience, however colored by Orientalism their versions of it may have been. And there’s no denying the beautiful cinematography and intriguing almost-narrative here, not to mention the innate fascination of the ruins where it was shot.

Orbit by Arturo Cubacub

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A classic videopoem by Arturo Cubacub, this took First Prize in the 1987 Poetry Film Festival in San Francisco. Here’s the complete description from Vimeo:

Completed in 1986, “Orbit” is the seventh video of my “Unity Gain Series.”

Choreographed by Jan Heyn-Cubacub.
Danced by Jan Heyn-Cubacub, Denise McIntosh and Arturo Cubacub.
Direction, Poetry, Editing, Special Effects, Computer Animation and Music by Arturo Cubacub.

Description: Poetry, dance, computer animation and digital video effects are used to juxtapose constructive possibilities within our destructive tendencies. “The most important challenge of our time is to create on the same scale as we can destroy.” – Gene Youngblood, 2007.

“Orbit” has received the following awards:
First Prize, Festival International de Video Do Algarve/ 1988, Algarve, Portugal, November, 1988.
First Prize, The 12th Poetry Film Festival, San Francisco, December, 1987.
Honorable Mention, Performance/Stage Category, Dance on Camera Festival ‘87, New York, December, 1987.
Certificate of Merit, Suffolk County Film & Video Competition 1987, Suffolk County Motion Picture & TV Commission, New York, 1987.
Best Video Award, PSA-VMPD American International Video and Film Festival, August, 1987.
Best Experimental Film Award, PSA-VMPD American International Video and Film Festival, August, 1987.
VMPD Bronze Medal, PSA-VMPD American International Video and Film Festival, August, 1987.
Best of Fest Award, Art Category, 1987 Columbus Video Festival, Ohio, July, 1987.
Certificate of Merit, Festival of Illinois Film and Video Artists, May, 1987.
Second Place, Athens International Video Festival, March, 1987.
Certificate of Merit, The Chicago International Film Festival, October, 1986.
Regional Fellowship Award, The National Endowment for the Arts, March, 1984 (project funding).
Artists Grant Award, The Illinois Arts Council, Illinois, March, 1984 (project funding).

Firearms by Nikkita Oliver

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Another powerful blend of videopoetry and performance poetry video, today from poet Nikkita Oliver and filmmaker Bryan Tucker. Here’s the Vimeo description:

If the gun that was used to murder Trayvon Martin could talk, what would it say?

Firearms was written by Nikkita Oliver – a Seattle-based creative, teaching artist, and anti-racist organizer. Nikkita is an attorney and holds a Masters of Education from the University of Washington.

Written & Performed By: Nikkita Oliver
Directed, Filmed & Edited By: Bryan Tucker
Produced By: Bryan Tucker & Nikkita Oliver
Audio Recording: Tomi Adewale
Protest Photos by Naomi Ishisaka {naomiishisaka.com}
Special Thanks: Washington Hall, Robin Rojas, Brian Lee, Aselefech & Zariya, Niki Amarantides
Music: “The Way Home” by Tony Anderson (licensed via The Music Bed)

H/t: “New Video Poem by Nikkita Oliver Imagines Trayvon Martin Shooting from Gun’s Perspective

The Applicant by Sylvia Plath (3)

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A unique twist on the performance poetry video genre from my new favorite channel on Vimeo, Tootight Lautrec’s This Be the Verse.

Tootight Lautrec, the Drag Laureate of the sub-sub-sub basement at PS 75 The Emily Dickinson School, brings you poetry–often as a drag queen lip-sync from archival recordings of poets–This Be The Verse: Poetry for Adults.

This wouldn’t work if Lautrec weren’t very, very good at lip-syncing. In all the years I’ve been combing YouTube and Vimeo for poetry videos, I can’t remember anyone taking this approach before, let alone pulling it off with such panache.

This is the third video for “The Applicant” that I’ve shared here over the years. See also Josep Porcar’s video remix and Maggie Bailey’s interpretative dance.

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