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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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 5 – two on that day, and May 8.