Nationality: United States

Everything But the Sky: poems by David Tomaloff and Meg Tuite

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If I post a lot of films by Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon (while still failing to quite keep up with his output), it’s because he’s continually trying new things and not falling into a groove. This is an especially good example of that, blending two poems by two different poets, Meg Tuite and David Tomaloff, into a new whole, and taking its title from an unpublished chapbook they’ve co-authored, Everything But the Sky. It appeared at Gnarled Oak on April 10, along with some explanatory text:

Poem “No Code” & voice by David Tomaloff
Poem “I am walking beside me” by Meg Tuite

Essentially, EVERYTHING BUT THE SKY explores the way that dream logic and interpretation often work in context to ordinary events taking place within our daily lives. Think of it as reverse dream interpretation–each of David Tomaloff’s poems is a dream poem whose images might have been the manifestation of the thoughts, emotions, and events that each of Meg Tuite’s flash pieces describe before it. In this way, each pair of poems is a complete set, and, likely, one could begin to see a greater narrative as one begins joining these sets. –David Tomaloff

I created a soundtrack around David’s own narration of his poem and presented that scape with a (horizontal split screen) film composition with Meg’s poem appearing as text on screen. –Swoon

Having one text appear on-screen while another is delivered via voiceover is an interesting and I think effective way to translate a collaborative poetry project into film. There are some additional process notes on Swoon’s blog, as well as the text of both poems.

Solar Therapy by Michele S. Cornelius

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This nearly perfect video remix of a poem by Michele S. Cornelius comes to us from Marie Craven, who writes,

Just a few days ago I read a lovely poem called ‘Solar Therapy’ by Alaska-based artist and writer, Michele S. Cornelius and published in the multi-media literary journal, Gnarled Oak. As it happened, I already had images and music on hand, edited together and waiting for a poem that would mix well with them. I recognised the potential in Michele’s piece straight away and completed this video in the 24 hours following the poem’s first public appearance. The music is by Western Australian ensemble, Masonik, whose soundscapes I’ve appreciated over a number of years. This track is called ‘Bending Light For The Magi‘. I sourced it at the Pool group on Facebook, where it was posted on offer for remix. The images are from the royalty-free stock footage site, VideoBlocks. With a minimal piece like this the small details become magnified. I spent a surprising amount of time on minutiae in the editing, especially deciding how to present the phrases of the poem on the screen and where and when the text should best be placed. In the end, as is often the case, simple seemed best.

Click through to read Marie’s process notes on three of her other recent videopoems, as well.

Sonnet on Time by John Poch

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A poem from John Poch‘s new book Fix Quiet, winner of the 2014 New Criterion Poetry Prize, turned into a film by Alex Henery. The Vimeo description notes that it was “Shot in Lubbock Texas over the Thanksgiving weekend.”

This is the second Poch-Henery videopoem I’ve posted (Shrike was the the first). I reached out to Poch by email for more information about their working relationship. He told me that Henery is his nephew, and that he makes rock videos for Run for Cover Records, as well as playing in the UK-based melodic hardcore band Basement. (The guitar music in the soundtrack is his work, played on the $30 toy guitar shown in the video.) I asked to what extent they collaborated on the video, and Poch replied,

We definitely worked together a lot on this, and I made a lot of suggestions for changes toward this final project. I took him around in my red truck to a lot of the scenic sites in Lubbock, and he just shot the footage. And some around our house of my girls. Nevertheless, but for the poem, it’s all his work.

It’s kind of cool that even though the poet is not foregrounded in the way he might be in a spoken-word-style poetry video, he still appears in profile, unidentified, as the driver of the truck. Also, given the general influence of music videos on contemporary videopoetry, it’s fascinating to see what someone who makes rock videos for a living does with a poem. The relationship between the text and the accompanying shots is as elliptical and allusive as it gets, even as the shots themselves are sharply focused and charismatic. As with the work of such filmmakers as R.W. Perkins or Marie Craven, the populist/accessible and the experimental happily co-exist.

I see that in a tweet from 5 April, Poch mentions “a huge video project with TTU grads” in the works for next year, so it sounds as if we can expect much more from him. As he says in a follow-up tweet: “Video poems are probably a huge part of the future of poetry.”

Namesake by Robert Peake

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A witty animated poem by American-British poet Robert Peake that begins with a Google image search and gets progressively more surreal. It’s based on what he calls “a poem for my nemesis“—the 17th-century court painter Robert Peake the Elder. That original posting included links to the referenced paintings which appear as pop-ups on hover, so a visual component was part of the poem from the beginning, as Peake acknowledged in a more recent blog post about the video:

Having already enhanced this ekphrastic poem with imagery, I decided that a film-poem seemed like an obvious next step. Visually, the film follows the poem’s concerns about different kinds of reality — personal, virtual, and historical — by playing with dimensionality.

It gave me the opportunity to try out parallax 2.5d animation using all open-source tools (Gimp and Blender), which I found both painstaking and enjoyable. I also mocked up flat animations in HTML and Javascript — such as the opening search scene and ending Matrix-style text, using screen capture to convert it to video. Valerie Kampmeier wrote and performed the score, inspired by courtly dances and the D-minor feel of a dial-up modem sequence.

It’s interesting to compare this with Ross Sutherland’s “Poem Looked Up On Google Streetview.” Google has more to offer videopoets than just search-query poems, it seems.

Love Poem in Thirds by Sam Rasnake

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She’s the expected question
whose answer is the world.

All the cosmic strangeness of love is on display in this kaleidoscopic remix by Marc Neys AKA Swoon of a Poetry Storehouse poem by Sam Rasnake. He says in a blog post,

As with many other videopoems of mine, the soundtrack came first; [SoundCloud link]
I used Nic Sebastian’s subtle reading in this track and added fading and fleeting piano notes in the mix.
The idea for the images for the video came through Jeff Mertz‘s ‘The City Without You‘.
His mirrored times-lapses full of movement and light expressed a certain longing. A feeling I also found in the poem and in Nic’s reading.

In the editing process I decided to leave out most parts where the cars and the traffic were too recognizable and focused on the ‘mandala-like’ figures of light.

Rasnake’s poem has proven to be an unusually fruitful source of inspiration for filmmakers. Nic Sebastian herself has made video remixes for the second and third parts, and Othniel Smith has made a video with the whole text. Click through to the Poetry Storehouse to watch all three.

Frangipani Grove by Cindy St. Onge

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Nic Sebastian has remixed a video of a horse and rider by Gregory Latham with a Poetry Storehouse poem about what endures after the death of planets by Cindy St. Onge. Somehow it works—for me, at any rate. I’m not crazy about the music (which is by David Mackey) and I think I might’ve preferred St. Onge’s own reading at the Storehouse to Sebastian’s. But the juxtaposition of images is strong and surprising enough to make up for that.

Late Fragment by Raymond Carver

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This is Último Fragmento, Spanish director Eduardo Yagüe‘s film based on a brief poem by Raymond Carver. The actors are Pau Vegas and Faustino Fernández, and the music is by Swoon. It’s the final film in a series of eight that Yagüe calls La Luz Tenaz.

LA LUZ TENAZ es una serie de ocho vídeos en los que investigo con los lenguajes de la poesía, el cine, la actuación, la música, la fotografía… Mezclo los géneros, experimento, busco la manera de contar las historias que los poemas que uso como inspiración me sugieren, creando una obra nueva y personal.
[THE TENACIOUS LIGHT is a series of eight videos in which I investigate the language of poetry, film, acting, music, photography… I mix genres, experiment, look for ways to tell the stories that the poems I use as inspiration suggest to me, creating a new and personal work.]

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