Performance poet and musician Ngoma Hill was the first person to be featured in a terrific series of web videos filmed, directed and edited by the artist and poet known as Advocate of Wordz. His Director of Wordz series—”digital films and performance art videos consisting of Spoken Word Artist, Poets, Singers, Emcees, and Storytellers”—is now up to six episodes; I’ll post more of them in the coming weeks.
A poetry film by the Michigan-based conceptual artist and educator Adriane Little, the latest of at least three she’s made for different poets. This one features a text by Lisa Williams from Gazelle in the House (New Issues Poetry & Prose). According to a note in the Vimeo description, “This video was made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.”
Adriane Little also teaches videopoetry to undergraduates, and nosing around on Vimeo, I discovered a few of their student films.
This is Talking Points, a film by Rob Perez for Motionpoems, based on the poem “Eggheads” by John Koethe. Perez tells a separate story in the film that intersects with the text in an interesting fashion. “Citizen journalist” Will Campbell writes about the poem and the film in some bonus materials on the Motionpoems website. Here’s an excerpt:
What drew Rob Perez to work on “Eggheads” was the challenge that came with adaptation. “I was interested in the idea and challenge of lifting a poem off the page and putting it on the screen” Perez said. That meant more than simply giving face to Koethe’s words. The film’s biggest challenge came in finding a way to preserve the quality of Koethe’s language while still making a film that uplifted the poem itself.
Perez’s solution to this dilemma was ambitious to say the least: let the poem speak for itself—supported, that is, by a narrative. His film adaptation of “Eggheads” combines a cool, crisp reading of the poem with jazz-tracked footage of a couple moving through the charmed humdrum of ordinary life. Their words are muted, leaving only their actions and something like “Take Five” to tell what they’re up to while in the background “Eggheads,” read by a separate narrator, gives meaning to the pair and their everyday world.
For Perez, the challenge of the film became finding just the right amount of narrative to support the poem without overburdening it. After all, “the poem is good enough to stand alone—otherwise it wouldn’t live like that. Therefore, my job is to find a story—of moving pictures—that allow the poem to say the same thing in a new medium. The screenplay, the actors, the frame, the score, sound effects, etc. are all tools to lift the poem off the page and onto the screen.”
A very beautiful poem. Heartfelt.
Nic Sebastian did a poignant reading that led to this track;
The visuals for this one are a combination of footage I shot during a hiking weekend last december (moody shots of trees, reflections, shadows…) alternated with the repetition of a boy falling (carefully edited out from a very lively action video by Justin Kauffman (under the Attribution license CC BY 3.0)
I think the ‘endless’ falling of the boy works well with the rest of the footage. Creating the right atmosphere for the poem and the soundtrack. There’s some comfort in this one I think.
A reminder, for any poets who might be reading this: the deadline for submissions to The Poetry Storehouse is coming up on February 28. After that it will transition to archive mode, adding new remixes (including videos) only up through September.
A mirrored field turns into layered images of a church interior in this new videopoem from Ruben Quesada for
A poem by Roger Reeves from his debut collection of poetry, KING ME (Copper Canyon Press, 2013).
Music: “Symphony No. 5″ by Gustav Mahler