G-dcast held a competition, The Psalms Project, inviting Jewish artists and poets to reinterpret a Psalm of their choice. We picked four winners from all of the brilliant entries. This piece was written and performed by Jina Davidovich and animated by Jeremy Shuback. It looks into Psalm 42, which poses the question ‘Where is your G-d?’. This was made possible with the generous support of The Koret Foundation, as part of an initiative to cultivate Jewish peoplehood.
Via Velveteen Rabbi.
This is one of five poetry book trailers included in Erica Goss’s latest column for Connotation Press.
When is a video poem more than a video poem? When it’s a book trailer. Authors promote their books with book trailers, short films meant to entice a buyer, just like a movie trailer is meant to advertise a movie. Movie trailers show a condensed version of the film, including cuts of the most exciting parts without giving away the plot, while book trailers tend to focus on the author’s credentials first and the story second, especially if the author is well-known. A video poem meant to promote a book of poems, literary fiction or non-fiction, however, is often a complete work of art, its connection to the book somewhat tangential.
About Krut’s video, Goss writes:
Robert Krut’s second collection, This is the Ocean, due out this month from Bona Fide Books, was preceded by videos of two poems from the book. “The Ocean” shows a coastal city all but abandoned in the early morning light. Robert Krut told me that he and filmmaker Nick Paonessa shot scenes at Venice Beach, California. “It’s a completely different world at dawn,” Robert said. “This sounds impossible, but you can drive from Burbank to Venice in about twenty minutes” – a trip that normally takes at least an hour. The video for “The Ocean” shows an alternate Southern California in an Edward Hopper-esque mood: a skateboarder has the whole park to himself, a empty lifeguard tower faces the sea as the sky turns pink, and the smooth wide beach is alone with its secrets as we hear the last lines of the poem: “There may be nothing for miles and miles, / but I have come from the bottom of the ocean, / and I am here to tell you about it.” The Pacific Ocean is the unreliable narrator in this video, elemental, beautiful and dangerous.
Be sure to check out her other selections. And for more videopoems that do double duty as book trailers, browse the book trailer category here. (It’s relatively new, so it doesn’t necessarily include all of the book trailers on the site.)
Though produced as a documentary, The Plow That Broke the Plains may also be seen as an epic filmpoem. Consider: first-time filmmaker Pare Lorentz didn’t write the script until almost everything else was done — all the shooting, even Virgil Thomson’s magnificent score. Composer and filmmaker worked together to fit the film to the score, sometimes cutting one, sometimes the other, and Lorentz thought the music should be allowed to suggest separate and complementary story lines. And the script, when he finally wrote it, took the form of free verse — see for yourself. When the text of his second documentary, River, was published in book form, it was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry.
Which is not to say that (in my opinion at least) the script of The Plow That Broke the Plains qualifies as great poetry on its own. Rather, the successful marriage of all three elements — text, soundtrack and film — creates a poetic whole greater than the sum of its parts, a filmpoem. The fascinating story behind the making of the film is adeptly recounted on this webpage from the University of Virginia’s American Studies program.
Because it was produced by the federal government, The Plow That Broke the Plains is in the public domain, and high-resolution versions may be downloaded from the Internet Archive for reuse and remix. It might be interesting to see what a contemporary videopoet could make with this material, whether by swapping in new text or cutting and splicing Lorentz’s. (If anyone does this, be sure to send me the link.)
A compelling animation of a visual poem, one of John Cages’s mesostics, by Federica Cristiani. She writes:
In this video I try to create a perfect balance between music and video. The letters appear following the beat of the music. My purpose is to create a perfect synesthesia within sound and typography.
This particular text was also included in a musical composition for solo voice, Sixty-Two Mesostics Re Merce Cunningham.
Directed by Chloe Stites; shot and edited by Travis Stewart. According to the credits, this was made for “a special presentation by Denise Stewart at Bay Arts” — I’m guessing July’s show “The Dress Says It All“: “Women artists give tribute to ‘the dress’ in works of art that come alive through words of their own.”