Nationality: United States

The Long Burial by Henrique Costa

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British filmmaker and animator Jonathan Knowles collaborates with Brazilian-American poet Henrique Costa, who lives in Brazil but writes poetry in English. Costa told us

I started making video poems in November 2019, when I teamed up with Jonny Knowles, an English director from Huddersfield, in the UK.

Since then, we have made five video poems. [The Long Burial] was written in 2017, but was reinterpreted by Jonny to address the strange times in which we are living now, in the spring of 2020.

I found the contrast between the formal sonnet and the glitchy, hyper-modern video especially effective. The soundtrack, including voiceover by Suzanne Celensu and music by Alias Here (AKA James Cunliffe) was also excellent.

The Eyes Have Woods by Shanna Compton

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This author-made filmpoem adapts a text from Shanna Compton‘s new collection (Creature Sounds Fade), for which it serves as a trailer. Compton notes that although all readings and launch events have been canceled in response to the pandemic, the book is still scheduled for release by late summer or early fall, and is now available for preorder from Black Lawrence Press.

“The Eyes Have Woods” originally appeared in American Poetry Review.

Post updated 21 May to correct launch information.

Embarkation by Shin Yu Pai

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Writer and artist Shin Yu Pai told us that

“Embarkation” was created with Scott Keva James and commissioned for the Ampersand Live! showcase in Seattle in Fall 2019. We initially created the piece as a performance-based work with a two-channel video projection (one on my body, and one on a screen behind me on stage); and then adapted it as a film. “Embarkation” also recently showed at Cadence Festival.

The YouTube description supplies additional background:

Embarkation reimagines the traditional Wang Yeh Boat Burning Festival, a Taoist ritual, that takes places in the southern port town of Donggang, Taiwan, every three years. A life-sized boat is built by the community and loaded with the hopes and the fears of the people. The gods are then invoked to pilot the barge up to the heavens in a send-off of fireworks and flames.

Footage of the festival was provided by Ye Mimi, a gifted filmpoet in her own right.

Patti Smith at the Punch and Judy Theater by Jim Daniels

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Patti Smith at the Punch and Judy Theater is the latest film from Matt Mullins, a collaboration with Michigan poet Jim Daniels.

Jim’s poem was inspired by the experience of seeing Patti Smith in the ’70’s at a small theater in the Detroit area. By coincidence, Matt went to the same theater to see movies as a child.

Since watching their film I’ve read Jim’s poem in print, and watched a live version of “Gloria” by Patti Smith.

For the film’s sound composition, Matt has sampled just the first powerful line of Patti’s voice in “Gloria”. In audio editing he rearranges the sung phrases to form a new, minimal, poem-song in itself. This is in sympathetic contrast to the printed words of Jim’s poem, which appear on the screen. It’s as if they are two poems side by side.

Matt says of his approach to making the piece: “It’s pretty raw intentionally as I was trying to catch that Patti Smith vibe.”

I find it hauntingly emotional, deep, original.

When We Get Lonely, It Will Be Together by Melissa Studdard and Kelli Russell Agodon

“Meet the Queens of Quarantine Poetry” is Houston Public Media‘s only slightly clickbaity title for this seamless blend of interview and videopoem. From the YouTube description:

In this time of quarantine and self-isolation, two friends have been co-writing a series of poems inspired by the coronavirus pandemic.

Houston poet Melissa Studdard and Seattle poet Kelli Russell Agodon connect across the miles through Zoom to read their poem “When We Get Lonely, It Will Be Together” and to describe what it means to create art during a pandemic.

Dave McDermand and Joe Brueggeman handled the recording and editing, and Catherine Lu did the interviews. Lu tweeted that it was “Possibly [the] coolest project I’ve done for @HoustonPubMedia.”

I follow both poets on social media and have been reading their collaboratively written quarantine poems with great interest, so it was wonderful to get some background on how the project evolved: out of their pre-existing habit of writing together in a virtual shared study space, using video conferencing software and reading each other’s drafts on Google docs. It’s great that they’re letting the rest of us read over their shoulders, as it were, especially given the pressure from literary journals to hide all one’s poetry away in order to keep it eligible for submission. I advise following Kelli and Melissa on Twitter, where they post the drafts as jpegs. Here are links to some of the more recent ones, posted on April 21, April 22, April 25, April 27, May 5two on that day, and May 8.

Twenty Times by Caroline Rumley

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This deservedly won the Audience Award at the 2020 REELpoetry/Houston TX festival in January, where I first saw it and was moved by the juxtaposition of disturbing imagery — either actual police body camera footage, or a very good simulacrum of it — with the speaker’s sedate description of her own backyard: a powerful indictment of the racism and class divisions permeating American society, where Black men risk death by police or vigilante shooting every time they go out the door, even into their own grandmother’s backyard. Rest in peace, Stephon Clark. I wish this videopoem didn’t still feel so necessary and relevant.

Twenty Times was runner-up in the Atticus Review 2019 Videopoem Contest. Marc Neys, the contest judge, wrote:

“Twenty Times” is a powerful political and poetic video. The use of ‘lo-fi’ imagery adds to the suspense and darkness of the video. The contrast with the every day life described in the poem sets the perfect base for the message.

Click through for a bio of Rumley, and visit her website for links to all her films.

Becoming the Other Becoming by Laura Mullen

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Perhaps I’m a bit too logocentric, but seeing the word “social” torn in half hit me like a punch to the gut.

There’s a “with poem” version of this (above) and a “without poem” version, the difference being the presence or absence of a voiceover. Laura Mullen is one of the more widely published American poets to also make videopoems. Shockingly, this is only the third video of hers I’ve shared here. Do browse her work on Vimeo.