Nationality: United States

The Translation by Brendan Constantine

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Sarah Jensen directed this adaptation of a poem by Los Angeles-based poet Brendan Constantine (which I found via his website, following a link below his excellent new poem in Rattle, “Red Sugar Blue Smoke“). Here’s the description on Vimeo:

A Hello, Margeaux Production
Written and Read by Brendan Constantine
Write Bloody Publishing
Music by Carina Pearson
Featuring Laura Whitfield and Philip Hood
Concept and Direction by Sarah Jensen
Video and Edit by Amy Hobbs

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

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A narrative-style poetry film directed by Elizabeth Masucci and starring Danielle Brooks from Orange Is the New Black. Alfredo Alcántara is the cinematographer, Eric Spang edited, and Andrew Freedman wrote the score. It’s the first of a projected five-film series of poetry shorts celebrating women than Masucci plans to direct. A crowd-funding campaign has raised nearly $15,000 to support the project so far. Masucci writes:

I’ve always been a sucker for a good poem. Call me nerdy or sentimental, but it’s the truth. I love beautiful language. Unfortunately, poetry isn’t considered “cool” or “popular” like it used to be. We can change that. Bill Murray said “poetry is the voice of the soul.” A good poem gets to the truth of humanity more than any other art form. This is why I’d like to use poetry in these short films instead of standard dialogue.

Women in the entertainment business have to take a back seat most of the time. And as an actress, I find that there aren’t as many interesting and dynamic roles for women as there are for men. There aren’t enough compelling and truthful female voices in entertainment. These are my reasons for making these poetry short films about the female experience through the voices of female poets.

Click through to read more about the series.

First Aid to Control Bleeding by Cindy St. Onge

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Cindy St. Onge calls this “a video remix dirge.” To me, it’s political remix videopoetry done right: responsive to the political moment yet aesthetically balanced and restrained, and highly imaginative in its juxtaposition of image and text (from a first aid manual). St. Onge includes just long enough of a clip from the cellphone video of a dying Philando Castile for the content to register with the viewer, but not so much that it seems disrespectful or exploitative, I think.

Where Commuters Run Over Black Children, 1971 by Lillien Waller

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Generally, I think my work is interested in how history bears down on the individual and on communities, how it affects people’s lives in large ways, as in social policy, but also in kind of the small things that trickle down, like how much glass is on your kid’s playground.

For Fourth of July weekend, here’s a portrait of Detroit-based poet Lillien Waller combining interview excerpts with historic footage and Waller’s recitation of her poem. It was directed by Oren Goldenberg (Cass Corridor Films) for Kresge Arts in Detroit, where Waller was a Literary Arts Fellow in 2015. The soundtrack incorporates music by Sterling Toles.

Two poems by Tarfia Faizullah

This video produced for Voluble incorporates two stylistically distinct, musically compelling video remixes for poems by Tarfia Faizullah, “Feast or Famine” and “Love Poem Ending with the Eye of a Needle.” Faizullah notes in a YouTube comment that

this was a result of a collaboration between me, emcee and producer Brooklyn Shanti, and tabla player and activist Robin Sukhadia. The film for the second poem is sampled from Sita Sings the Blues, an animated film that the director made available through Creative Commons. The footage for the first is tourist footage of Bangladesh.

Starfish Aorta Colossus (excerpt) by Paolo Javier

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Filmmakers Lynne Sachs and Sean Hanley collaborated on this piece in response to a text by the Filipino American poet Paolo Javier. Here’s the description from Vimeo:

Starfish Aorta Colossus
poem by Paolo Javier
film Lynne Sachs and Sean Hanley
4 1/2 min., 2015

Poetry watches film. Film reads poetry. Paolo Javier’s text is a catalyst for the digital sculpting of an 8mm Kodachrome canvas. Syntactical ruptures and the celebration of nouns illuminate twenty-five years of rediscovered film journeys.

NYC poet Paolo Javier invited filmmaker Lynne Sachs to create a film that would speak to one of his poems from his newly published book Court of the Dragon (Nightboat Books). Sachs chose Stanza 10 from Javier’s poem “Starfish Aorta Colossus”. She then decided to collaborate with film artist Sean Hanley in the editing of the film. Together, they traveled through 25 years of unsplit Regular 8 mm film that Sachs had shot — including footage of the A.I.D.S. Quilt from the late 1980s, a drive from Florida to San Francisco, and a journey into a very untouristic part of Puerto Rico. Throughout the process, Sachs and Hanley explore the celebration of nouns and the haunting resonances of Javier’s poetry.

Regular 8 mm film shot by Lynne Sachs
Edit by Sean Hanley with Lynne Sachs

The Future is Here by Bianca Stone

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“Nothing bad can touch this life I haven’t already imagined.” This stunning black-and-white poetry film from UK filmmaker Helen Dewbery and US poet Bianca Stone should serve as a reminder—if any were needed—of the power of international collaboration on this day when the advocates for Little England seem to have triumphed. The poem is from Stone’s 2014 collection Someone Else’s Wedding Vows. Colin Heaney composed the music.

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