Nationality: United States

It’s Complicated by Jade Graves

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A love story with a surprise ending from teenage videopoet Jade Graves. This is one of several more videos uploaded to Vimeo by Media Poetry Studio since we ran Erica Goss’s report on the videopoetry summer camp in Moving Poems Magazine.

The Essence of Instinct by Robert Peake

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The first use of Google Deep Dream technology for poetry film of which I’m aware. American-British poet and filmmaker Robert Peake worked with his usual collaborator, Valerie Kampmeier, who created the soundscape. Robert shared some process notes (along with the text of poem) on his blog:

This film-poem began as an exploration of the possibilities of using Google Deep Dream technology for film. I ran the Deep Dream software on frames of time-lapse clouds. Initial experiments were not deterministic enough, flickering wildly between very different images from frame to frame. I then composited dreamed-upon frames with their siblings to create a kind of motion blur frame, which when dreamed upon a second time created greater continuity both of movement and shape. To create further continuity, I also morphed various dream frames into each other.

The process is an attempt to simulate pareidolia — the phenomenon whereby we “recognise” patterns in random data, which is very much what Deep Dream is doing here, and what we humans do when we see shapes in clouds. The solid, iridescent imagery reminded me of William Blake, but the constantly-changing nature of these creatures made me think of the evolution of species. In researching Charles Darwin’s early life, the poem took shape. Valerie then designed the soundscape to accompany and complete this piece, drawing on her own childhood experience of hearing distant, indistinct voices.

To see more of Robert’s experiments with Deep Dream and morphing technologies, check out his recent uploads to Vimeo.

American House Fire by David Campos

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A highly effective author-made film by the Fresno, California-based poet David Campos. The text originally appeared in Luna Luna.

Thanks to Nicelle Davis for the tip.

A New Day Dawns by Nikky Finney

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It’s heartening to see South Carolina newspaper editors taking what poets have to say so seriously—an example of the general high regard in which writers are held in the South, I think. Yesterday I shared the video made from Ed Madden’s poem, which was reprinted in the Free Times and State newspapers. This poem by Nikky Finney appeared in The State on July 9, in text form as well as in the video by Matt Walsh, which incorporates footage of the previous days’ events.

[Finney] wrote the poem in the early morning hours of July 9, after House members voted to send Gov. Nikki Haley a bill to remove the Confederate flag from the State House grounds, realizing “I have been writing these 230 words all my life.”

For more on Nikky Finney, see her website. She’s also been featured in at least 11 other videos.

When we’re told we’ll never understand by Ed Madden

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It took me a couple of viewings to appreciate the genius of this deceptively simple videopoem, which hinges on the last, sung line of Ed Madden‘s poem. (For folks outside the US who might not recognize the line, it’s from the chorus of the South’s unofficial anthem, “Dixie.”) Brian Harmon is the filmmaker, and the description at Vimeo explains the circumstances:

The City of Columbia’s Poet Laureate, Ed Madden, reading his poem “When we’re told we’ll never understand” from “Hercules and the Wagoner: Reflections, South Carolina, June 17-22, 2015” written June 20, 2015. This poem was written in response to the tragedy at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC and in conjunction with the efforts to remove the Confederate flag from the SC Statehouse grounds.

The poem was originally read as part of the Take It Down rally at the Statehouse on June 20, 2015 and reprinted in both the Free Times and State newspapers.

For the full text of this selection of the poem or the full longer version “Hercules and the Wagoner: Reflections, South Carolina, June 17-22, 2015,” visit the City of Columbia Poet Laureate website at

Portlet by Kathleen Kelley and Sarah Rose Nordgren

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Where does the poem end and the dance begin? I don’t usually include the filmmaker’s name in the title, but the collaboration between dance and video artist Kathleen Kelley and poet Sarah Rose Nordgren is so tight here, it’s hard to see how to credit the poem exclusively to Nordgren. In an email, she told me that “the poetry and choreography for this piece were done collaboratively, i.e. they were created simultaneously in response to each other.” The result is pure videopoetry.

Portlet is one of three films from their collaborative project Digitized Figures, which has a dedicated page on Kelley’s website where you can view all three as well as a live rehearsal video. Here’s the description:

Digitized Figures: A Practice of Choreographing Text is a collaborative project in development by poet Sarah Rose Nordgren and choreographer Kathleen Kelley. Set to premiere in 2015, Digitized Figures will create an interactive performance environment that weaves words and images through both digital and analog space to investigate the other face of digital technology: its mirrored relationship to organic and evolutionary impulses.

The final version of this installation will include 3 video projections that surround and react to the viewer, animating poems as living and responsive text. Visitors to the installation will be able to move through each of the projections, changing and redirecting them with their own gestures. In addition to the projections, there will be dancers performing live in the space, providing a geometric embodiment that works contrapuntally to the abstraction of the moving words. The viewers will be able to interact with the dancers using touchscreens that give the dancers qualitative and emotional directions.

I’ve featured poetry-dance videos on this website since its inception; it’s a fascinating genre. With the inclusion of “dancing” text animation and the incorporation of the videos into a live, interactive installation/performance, this project really pushes the genre forward.

Five Minutes by Kate Greenstreet

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Poet-filmmaker Kate Greenstreet notes:

Five Minutes originally appeared in Pastelegram ( as five one-minute movies.

But they clearly work best as a single film.