Nationality: United States

Cold Moon by Erica Goss

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We buy longing, our faces
aggressive and breakable

on the cusp of winter.

The perfect poetry film for the holiday season. This is the final part of the 12 Moons series, the year-long videopoetry collaboration between Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon (concept, camera and direction), Erica Goss (poetry), Kathy McTavish (music), and Nic Sebastian (voice), presented by Atticus Review. Marc wrote:

As with the other 11, Kathy provided me with a great soundtrack. Moody and floating on ‘loneliness’. Perfect for Nic’s reading and the poem itself.
Reading and hearing the poem gave me the idea of using images of people shopping for the holidays. I filmed these for another project (Day is done), but this was a perfect match.

It’s like Erica said after viewing the video: “In “Cold Moon,” the young woman’s expression captures the essence of the poem: that holiday shopping is a poor excuse for spirituality, and that faith is still an unexplained phenomenon.”

So this was the last of the series. All of these were made over more than a year ago, but I still have great memories working on these. My gratitude also goes out to Atticus Review and Moving Poems for giving those videos an extra home.
Showing these 12 at Zebra Festival in Berlin this year was a highlight, but collaborating with those three was the best reward.

I Can’t Breathe: poems for Eric Garner by Daniel J. Watts and Bettina Judd

From WalkRunFly Productions, here’s a unique performance poem by Daniel J. Watts which took the form of a well-coordinated, flash-mob-like demonstration four months ago, in response to the choking death of Eric Garner at the hands of police. In light of the recent failure of a grand jury to indict the officer who killed Garner, and the growing, nation-wide movement against racist police behavior, it is sadly more relevant than ever. Here’s the description from Vimeo:

On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner, a 43-year-old Staten Island man died after being placed in a choke hold by police. His death sparked national outrage.

More than 100 Broadway stars, directors, choreographers, designers, and technicians gathered at the police precinct in Times Square to express their thoughts on the killing of Eric Garner.

WalkRunFly Productions (Warren Adams & Brandon Victor Dixon) partnered with poet Daniel J. Watts, MSNBC’s David Wilson from thegrio and more than 100 Broadway stars, directors, choreographers, designers and technicians in Times Square, to express their thoughts on the killing of Eric Garner.

WalkRunFly Productions

Produced By
Warren Adams & Brandon Victor Dixon

Poem written and performed by
Daniel J. Watts

Edited by
Darryl Harrison
Visual Architect

Videographers
Lowell Freedman, Antonio Thompson, Darryl Harrison, And Jesse Guma

The whole incident was captured on video by a bystander, and at least one poet — Bettina Judd — has remixed the footage into a videopoem. Judd is no stranger to innovative videopoetry, and it shows: she uses contrast and layering to good effect, including verses from the Bible (where breath is often equated to the soul and to the breath of God), preparing the viewer/listener for a sardonic, unsettling conclusion.

Hunter’s Moon and Trapper’s Moon by Erica Goss

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I’ve gotten a couple of months behind on the 12 Moons videopoetry collaboration between Erica Goss (words), Marc Neys/Swoon (concept and directing), Kathy McTavish (music) and Nic Sebastian (voice), so here are parts X, “Hunter’s Moon” (above) and XI, “Trapper’s Moon” (below). About the former, Marc writes:

The wind in this poem led me to a film I used earlier; ‘Terror in the midnight sun’ (Virgil W. Vogel)

I created a ‘windy’ scape using blocks of sound Kathy provided me with, added Nic’s reading and started playing around with the footage. (Different grading, colours,…)

In the end I only used one sequence. Played with repetition… I added a light layer of flickering windows to emphasize the wind even more.

For “Trapper’s Moon,” Marc notes that

Kathy provided me with a beautiful soundtrack, full of nostalgia and melancholy. A perfect fit for Nic’s intense reading.

I wanted very simple and pure images to go with this music. Preferably nature. A forest. Solitude.

Ephemeral Rift filmed one of his winter walks, I edited out a few bits and played around with colouring and timing in a split screen.

As with the others in this year-long series, both films were featured in Atticus Review.

Ironically, one of the reasons I got behind on sharing them was because I took almost two weeks off to go to the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival in October… where one of the big draws was seeing all twelve films in order on the big screen, with both Marc and Erica in attendance to introduce them and answer questions afterwards. It was an utterly captivating experience; the films flowed really well one into another, which might not be obvious if you watch them individually on the web. I hope that won’t be the last time that the whole project gets shown in a theater.

What are the next three letters by Sarah Rushford

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Like watching the performance of a shape-shifting blind bard, this videopoem by interdisciplinary artist, writer and designer Sarah Rushford has more than a little of the epic about it. Here’s her description at Vimeo:

In What are the next three letters, metaphoric images are intercut with footage of women whose eyes are closed, saying Rushford’s script of original poetic compositions. The script is a collection of idiosyncratic dialogs between adult and child family members, disabled, confused or challenged individuals, and their caregivers. The women narrators seem mysteriously in possession of the words they say. Their recitation does not seem memorized, neither are they reading the words. This mystery regarding their knowledge of the writing, charges the work. The women narrators are ordinary women of varied ages and races, they are unadorned, uncommon, yet ordinary women. The eyes of the viewer are drawn to the sincere, and spontaneous expressions on the faces of these women, whose eyes are closed. They seem vulnerable, prone to their own emotional reaction to the words they are saying.

(From an Awakened Sleep) by Charlotte Hamrick

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This is not the first time that Nic Sebastian—known for her great reading voice—has made a videopoem with text-on-screen rather than voiceover, but it may be her most satisfying example of that sort of videopoem to date. The text, by New Orleans-based poet Charlotte Hamrick, comes from The Poetry Storehouse, and the soundtrack is by Matt Samolis.

Burning House by Jovan Mays and Theo Wilson

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Amid racial tensions in communities such as Ferguson, Missouri, and following the unwarranted deaths of young black men like Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, two slam poets confront what it means to be black men in America and in their communities. Theo Wilson, once a victim of police brutality, delves into his internal struggle of dealing with the past encounter, remembering how powerless he felt in the face of his oppressor, and his ensuing resolve to change the rules of the game. Beneath the smoldering anger and aftermath of police violence is a growing disquietude toward the future of race relations. Jovan Mays, the poet laureate of Aurora, Colorado, uses his spoken word to express the turmoil of emotions and experiences inherently attached to growing up a black boy in America.
(Vimeo description)

These two related poetry films are by Mary I. Stevens, an associate producer of digital video at CNBC. They deserve to be seen widely in the wake of yet another grotesque miscarriage of justice in the racist police state that the United States has become. Those of us who have the luxury of merely wallowing in outrage and not fearing for our lives (yet), simply because we happen to have been born with white skin, need to hear the testimony of the victims of police violence and humiliation, and ask ourselves whether our anxious calls for peaceful protest aren’t motivated more out of a desire to sweep unpleasant realities under the rug rather than to actually confront the glaring inequities in our society.

Jovan Mays and Theo E. J. Wilson, A.K.A. Lucifury, are members of the Slam Nuba team, who won the National Poetry Slam in 2011. The first film, an artful blend of interview and poetry, contains a few excerpts from the performance of “Burning House” featured in the second film, but devotes much more space to a poem recited by Mays, “To the Black Boys.” The song “Look Down Lord,” included in both films, is performed by Dee Galloway.

Shepilov Love (Marion Barry Is) by Kenneth Carroll

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To mark the passing of legendary Washington, D.C. mayor Marion Shepilov Barry, Jr.—a unique figure in the American political landscape, to say the least—here’s a terrific performance poem by Kenneth Carroll, mixed with the drumming of a street musician named Vinzee. It’s from the “eclectic documentary series” The Angle Show from Park Triangle Productions and director Gemal Woods. (They do quite a bit of poetry, which is really refreshing for a documentary series.) The video was posted back in December 2011, and the accompanying text notes:

We wanted to have fun especially with this great piece by Kenneth Carroll. I think we did. He is a genius.

Vinzee…just met him traveling. He was gracious to share with us.

Kenneth Carroll doesn’t appear to have a website, but here’s his page at the Poetry Foundation.

(Hat-tip: Sandra Beasley on Facebook)