Another simple-but-effective Nic Sebastian video remix of a poem from The Poetry Storehouse, this time by Kristin LaTour. Nic posted some process notes at her blog. Especially interesting are her comments on blending multiple voices, and how she collaborated with the other reader, Jonathon Lu, for the voiceover heard here.
Like poem-making, videopoetry-making is a binding/weaving process, a deliberate or serendipitous blending of disparate things (words, images, sound) that were not linked before. Since voice is for me a hugely prominent element of the process, I continue to look for ways to create voice duets, voice dialogues, voice mosaics.
A simple but effective videopoem. Nic Sebastian used a text from The Poetry Storehouse contributed by Illinois-based writer and photographer Lennart Lundh, but as she notes at her blog, the video imagery came first.
For this one, I started with the footage and then searched for the poem.
One of the challenges for a videopoem maker not yet handy with his or her own camera (that would be me) is finding video footage that a) works and b) is copyright-free and c) is either free or inexpensive. There are a few sites (eg Motion Elements or OrangeHD) that put up video clips for free use, and I trawl them regularly, downloading and saving footage against future need. The clip subjects are super-odd and almost comically random and nearly always fall in the ‘you never know’ category.
In this case, I found a series of shots taken of and through the side rear view mirror of a car. They struck me as metaphorically powerful and I went back through the Storehouse poems, deliberately looking for one which would match the metaphor. Lennart’s elegantly tragic simple/complicated piece, with its telescoping rearward/forward depiction of time and space jumped out at me very quickly.
For all you lovers, here’s a videopoem by the indefatigable Belgian filmmaker Swoon (Marc Neys).
Since the beginning of The Poetry Storehouse last year, a gentle stream of new arrivals and voices filled up the shelves. It was about time I went shopping for words again.
It’s such a fun place to nose. Different styles, themes, voices and ideas… This time the poem ‘Telegram’ by Amy MacLennan caught my eye. [...]
The images came fairly easy. I wanted a very subtle, understated almost, scenery. slow movements, details of bodyparts and a slow veil of colour…
The video practically made itself…it felt right from the start. A good sign.
Nic Sebastian (who provided the reading used in the soundtrack) interviewed Amy MacLennan for our ongoing series of interviews at the Moving Poems Forum with poets and remixers who have provided or worked with material from The Poetry Storehouse. Here’s what MacLennan had to say about “Telegram”:
I never expected to hear that kind of music, see that kind of video, hear that kind of voice merged into something that I had provided words for. The pacing was crazy interesting for me. I saw other things in my own poem that I wouldn’t have thought before because I was too attached to the rhythms of “Telegram.” I watch this now and think, “Wow. My words were the beginning to THIS? Oh my goodness!”
Socrates had some either/or thoughts about death. Poet Maxine Kumin has some thoughts about those thoughts. Filmmaker Adam Tow adds his thoughts to hers.
It’s with a heavy heart that we note the poet’s own death yesterday at the age of 88 — something Motionpoems couldn’t have anticipated when they chose this as their February selection. Their free emailed newsletter contained an interview with her; I don’t think they’d mind if I quoted it:
MOTIONPOEMS: Why did you decide to cut the Socrates quote with nearly six lines of cosmic imagery?
MAXINE KUMIN: I delayed the quote so I could set up the smallness, the insignificance of our planet in the great reach of space. Otherwise, there couldn’t have been any suspense and hence no poem.
MOTIONPOEMS: There’s an interplay in the poem between up and down, present and future. Your last line, “So much for death today and long ago,” seems inspired by the movement of the smoke, the squirrels, and the nuthatch, and the promise of snow. Why?
KUMIN: You notice it isnt the smoke, its the shadow of smoke, not snow but the promise of snow, tho the critters are real and present. I’m trying to say how evanescent the choice between life and death is, just as Socrates gives us his matter-of-fact but no less terrifying either/or.
MOTIONPOEMS: Motionpoems are used in classrooms a lot. If you were to recommend a writing prompt or exercise using this poem as a model, writing teachers and students might find that very useful.
KUMIN: Anything that gets students reading, especially outside their chosen field, makes a good jumping-off place for a poem. You dont have to be reading Socrates or Faulkner. Im a great jotter down of lines that pique my interest, from the newspaper to something weighty about, say, Jefferson … who was one of the first to bring the mule to this country … That would make me want to write about that hybrid the mule. (I havent but still might.)
As featured in Atticus Review, this is the first of the 12 Moons videopoetry series, a collaboration between California-based poet (and videopoetry columnist) Erica Goss; filmmaker Marc Neys, A.K.A. Swoon; composer/cellist Kathy McTavish; and poetry reader extraordinaire Nic Sebastian. See Erica’s January column at Connotation Press for more on the project. She says, in part:
This artistic collaboration has been an exhilarating experience for me. Part of the fun was waiting to see what the others came up with. I knew I had to get the poems written and delivered, so I made writing them a top priority. As soon as one was finished, I sent it off, and waited to be delighted. Apart from emails, a few phone and Skype calls, we worked independently, each contributing our part.
Marc goes into a bit of detail about the making of this first film in the series at his blog:
I wanted to show only one image: a woman who has, one time, lost all but is still there and still very much a woman.
Let the viewer feel intrusive, like they’re watching a private ritual.
Kathy sent me several snippets of sounds and loops I could play with. Looking for a ominous soundscape to lay Nic’s reading in, I first created a track.
For the ending I wanted a contrast in sound and image.
I chose the view of someone walking on sharp and difficult stones without a clear path.