Nationality: United States

Secrets by Ruth Foley

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Another of Nic Sebastian’s innovative video remixes for a poem from The Poetry Storehouse, this time by the Massachusetts-based poet and editor Ruth Foley. Sebastian blogged some process notes; here are a couple of snippets:

The language of Secrets was slow and rather sensuous, and when I first read it, I took it as the description of a gradual process of discovery, an uncovering, a blooming of sorts. It was only on the second and subsequent reads that I took in the extent to which it was actually a slow process of flaying, and of destruction. Then it struck me as really incredibly violent, and all the more so for being presented in so meditative and lush a fashion.


For the soundtrack, I used a track appropriately titled ‘A rotten fairytale’ by a Soundcloud member called Mustafank, whose work I had run across in a video elsewhere (wish I could remember where now). It starts with a toy piano solo and moves into an electric guitar solo, with a faux-innocent sinister feel that really makes you think Hansel & Gretel, sweet gingerbread house & related bad things.

Read the rest.

Ruth Foley doesn’t seem to have a website (though she is all over the Google), but she does keep an amusing blog called Five Things.

Counting by Steve Klepetar

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Steve Klepetar’s poem from The Poetry Storehouse gets the Swoon treatment. Marc Neys writes,

I wanted a more experimental (frantic even) sequence of images for this one. I constructed a soundtrack around Steve’s reading. Re-edited sounds I created before, a sample from I.M. Rawes, taken from London Sound Survey, and new addings of heavily treated recordings (a boiler room) […]

I found the perfect images and atmosphere in one of the hundreds of excerpts out of “The International Institute for the Conservation, Archiving and Distribution of Other People’s Memories” on IICADOM.

A weird combination of naive stop motion (with clay, hands and beans) with some alienated dancing and dark faces in between… A strange string of associations, perfect for what I had in mind.

Steve Klepetar’s home page has some links to his poetry collections (scroll down). And of course check out the rest of his stuff at The Poetry Storehouse.

Crepuscule with Nellie (Take Six) by Ken Taylor

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It’s been three years since Ginetta Correli (Marshmallow Press Productions) last made a filmpoem; it’s good to see more work from her. This one was created for the Poetry Society to be featured at the Filmpoem Festival in Antwerp Belgium, June 14, 2014. American poet and artist Ken Taylor won a commendation for this poem from the Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition 2013 (read the text on their website). His reading is included in the soundtrack.

Items of Value to a Dying Man by Kristin LaTour

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This Poetry Storehouse remix by Nic Sebastian deploys still images by artist Peter Gric and a soundscape by Jarred Gibb for a strangely compelling and disturbing accompaniment to Kristin LaTour’s poem.

The astounding reception of this kinestatic video might offer some lessons for those interested in videopoetry as a way to reach new and larger audiences. In a post on her personal blog, Sebastian pondered “What happens when a poetry video gets 3,000 plays in 5 days?” I encourage everyone to click through and read the whole post, which is much more angst-ridden than boastful (we poets do not always handle success well). I particularly liked this part:

A poem has no life outside its interaction with people. When they are not being interacted with, poems lie dead in the dark, where they are purposeless, and meaningless.

The role of the curator, remixer or publisher of poetry is to maximize the number of interactions each poem has with people. In the hands of the successful curator/publisher, the poem lives in interaction repeatedly and reaches a higher level of its interaction potential than poems in the custody of less successful handlers.

That’s the role of the curator/publisher in the scheme of things poetry. But it doesn’t have to be their motivation. This is where I got confused. If things go well, more people will interact with poems as a result of my remixing and curating. If things don’t, they won’t. But that’s not why I do what I do. I do what I do because I like voicing poems, I like exploring the technology of putting poems online in different ways, I like the challenge of combining poetry and digital imagery in video, and experimenting with sound.

To Find Stars In Another Language by Elizabeth Bradfield

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Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending a poetry reading by Elizabeth Bradfield at Penn State, which concluded with this videopoem projected onto the wall behind her, following a section of haibun riffing off photos that used Powerpoint. It was great to see multimedia casually included as part of a very well-attended reading in an academic setting — though Bradfield herself works not in academia but as a naturalist-interpreter on Cape Cod, which showed, I think, in the ease and common touch with which she introduced her poems. The students seemed very energized by the reading, even before the multimedia portion, and following a 20-minute question-and-answer period, they formed a lengthy queue to buy her books and get her autograph. It was gratifying to see a good poet get the sort of reception she deserved, for once. I bought a copy of her 2010 book Approaching Ice, a personal take on the history of polar exploration, and am enjoying it immensely.

Though this video and its two companions (one of which, Deliquescence, I shared last December) represent Bradfield’s first foray into videopoetry, she and her collaborator Demet Taspinar seem to have all the right instincts. In part, I think, this is because they proceeded ekphrastically: footage first, then the words.

A collaboration between video artist Demet Taspinar, who made this film, and me (Elizabeth Bradfield) who wrote a poem to it. Demet made the movie when working in Antarctica, which is where we met aboard an expedition ship. She was the ship’s doctor; I was a naturalist. We’ve made three of these collaborations so far. First published on “The Rumpus” as video and also as a printed poem in April, 2013.

And here’s that Rumpus post.

Planter’s Moon by Erica Goss

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With all the excitement on social media about last night’s eclipse, I thought I’d jump on the lunar bandwagon and share the 4th installment of 12 Moons, the collaborative videopoetry project from Erica Goss (text), Nic Sebastian (voice), Kathy McTavish (music) and Marc Neys, A.K.A. Swoon (music, concept, camera, and direction) for Atticus Review. This one uses footage from The Plow that Broke the Plains, Pare Lorentz’ poetic documentary about the Dust Bowl, which, I suggested here last year, may be seen as a sort of epic filmpoem in its own right. Marc says in his process notes:

First time I read the poem (before there was a reading or a soundtrack) I thought of this fantastic documentary by Pare Lorentz.
I started to work with certain parts of the film (treated them, gave them a colour) and tried to put them in a split screen.
Once I had a basic montage, I awaited Nic’s reading to work on a soundscape with musical blocks provided by Kathy.

I said it before and I will say it again. Cooking’s fun and easy when you have great ingredients. All the pieces fitted perfectly and lifted each other to a higher plane. I only had to do a small re-edit of my basic montage once the soundtrack was made.

Brother carried the poppies by Theresa Senato Edwards

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A Nic Sebastian remix of a poem in the Poetry Storehouse by Theresa Senato Edwards. Sebastian re-purposed some stock footage to gorgeous and disturbing effect, and the music she chose really carries the film. Here are her process notes:

For this haunting poem on abuse by Theresa Senato Edwards, I used both film and still image elements – first time I have combined the two.

For the backdrop of the bleak disastrous relationship, I used darkened stock footage of what was originally a relatively cheerful sunshiney scene of an abandoned house in a field. Once darkened, it looked lonely and empty – a context in which forbidden activity could easily take place unchecked. To begin, end and punctuate the piece, I slowed down and darkened stock footage of a summer lightning storm to represent the abuser.

For the victim, I used a stock still image from StockVault which suggested muffling and suffocation to me. I used the image as a fade-in at three different places in the film, each time adding a different Ken Burns effect to it – panning away, towards, across. The hollow ‘alien drone’ soundtrack was by Speedenza, one of my favorites.

Many thanks once more to Theresa for sharing this powerful piece at the Poetry Storehouse.

Sebastian’s chronicle of her education as a videopoem-maker is really turning into a valuable resource for others who want to learn the craft. I advise either following her blog on, as I do, or else subscribing to the Videopoems category link in an RSS feed reader.