Nationality: United States

Love Poem in Thirds by Sam Rasnake

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She’s the expected question
whose answer is the world.

All the cosmic strangeness of love is on display in this kaleidoscopic remix by Marc Neys AKA Swoon of a Poetry Storehouse poem by Sam Rasnake. He says in a blog post,

As with many other videopoems of mine, the soundtrack came first; [SoundCloud link]
I used Nic Sebastian’s subtle reading in this track and added fading and fleeting piano notes in the mix.
The idea for the images for the video came through Jeff Mertz‘s ‘The City Without You‘.
His mirrored times-lapses full of movement and light expressed a certain longing. A feeling I also found in the poem and in Nic’s reading.

In the editing process I decided to leave out most parts where the cars and the traffic were too recognizable and focused on the ‘mandala-like’ figures of light.

Rasnake’s poem has proven to be an unusually fruitful source of inspiration for filmmakers. Nic Sebastian herself has made video remixes for the second and third parts, and Othniel Smith has made a video with the whole text. Click through to the Poetry Storehouse to watch all three.

Frangipani Grove by Cindy St. Onge

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Nic Sebastian has remixed a video of a horse and rider by Gregory Latham with a Poetry Storehouse poem about what endures after the death of planets by Cindy St. Onge. Somehow it works—for me, at any rate. I’m not crazy about the music (which is by David Mackey) and I think I might’ve preferred St. Onge’s own reading at the Storehouse to Sebastian’s. But the juxtaposition of images is strong and surprising enough to make up for that.

Late Fragment by Raymond Carver

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This is Último Fragmento, Spanish director Eduardo Yagüe‘s film based on a brief poem by Raymond Carver. The actors are Pau Vegas and Faustino Fernández, and the music is by Swoon. It’s the final film in a series of eight that Yagüe calls La Luz Tenaz.

LA LUZ TENAZ es una serie de ocho vídeos en los que investigo con los lenguajes de la poesía, el cine, la actuación, la música, la fotografía… Mezclo los géneros, experimento, busco la manera de contar las historias que los poemas que uso como inspiración me sugieren, creando una obra nueva y personal.
[THE TENACIOUS LIGHT is a series of eight videos in which I investigate the language of poetry, film, acting, music, photography… I mix genres, experiment, look for ways to tell the stories that the poems I use as inspiration suggest to me, creating a new and personal work.]

Death Meditation by A.M. Thompson

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This is the second of two films by Marie Craven using Poetry Storehouse poems by A.M. Thompson. (I also liked the first, Unavoidable Alchemy, but felt that it ended too abruptly.) Here she has used footage by Mollie Mills, guitar music by Josh Woodward and a voiceover by Nic Sebastian to create a surprisingly upbeat video remix. I’ll let viewers decide whether it succeeds, but I salute its boldness as an experiment in confounding expectations. (Read the text.)

Facing the Wall by Laura M Kaminski

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A Swoon film from five months ago that I somehow forgot to share until now. Laura M Kaminski‘s text (from The Poetry Storehouse) is meditative enough to make the slow revealing of lines work here. You’ll probably need to watch the video in HD in order to read them all, though. The poem appears in Kaminski’s 2014 collection last penny the sun (which I happen to own, and recommend highly).

Swoon (Marc Neys) shared some process notes on his blog, as he usually does. Here’s an excerpt:

This poem felt perfect for another film composition (rather than an audible videopoem), so I started with constructing a (longer) soundscape;

[listen on SoundCloud]

During my trip to Bristol I filmed some close ups and details of walls. Footage that fitted perfectly together with other recently filmed images. A search through IICADOM and Videoblocks completed the collection process.
After that came the fun part. Combining lines from the poem with the suitable footage, trying out different fonts and sizes for the text on screen, placement of words… It’s a puzzling way of editing.
I’m not only editing film anymore, I’m carefully trying to blend sound, image and text in one edit. It feels more like composing. It makes me rethink the way I worked (and still work) with audible videopoems.

Situation 6 (Stop And Frisk) by Claudia Rankine

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One of a series of “Situation” videos created by Jamaican-American poet Claudia Rankine in collaboration with her husband, the photographer John Lucas, using texts from her award-winning, genre-bending poetry collection Citizen: An American Lyric (2014). This one employs a technique I find very effective in maintaining viewer interest during longer videopoems: interweaving separate stories in the footage and voiceover to create a kind of dialectical tension. What doesn’t happen, or might happen, becomes as important as what does.

Thanks to PBS NewsHour for this upload. For more on Rankine’s collaboration with Lucas, see the interview at BOMB Magazine that I quoted from last September when I posted “Situation 5.” All six Situation videos may be viewed on Rankine’s website (Flash required).

Reading Arabic by Amy Miller

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A Moving Poems production. I uploaded this to Vimeo five months ago but never got around to sharing it here, side-tracked by my trip to Berlin for the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival a week later. And then when two of Amy Miller’s poems got made into such superlative films by Lori Ersolmaz (“Backward Like a Ghost“) and Eduardo Yagüe (“I Was Grass“), I sort of forgot about my own, more primitive effort. But I was reminded of it again by the rising tide of anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia around the world. This videopoem with its hopefully not too obvious calligraphic touches was meant as a gesture of deep respect to the aural and visual qualities of a great literary civilization.

The text is from the Poetry Storehouse and was first published in Faultline. I used some Creative Commons-licensed footage from Equiloud (Uwe Schweer-Lambers), rearranged and turned black-and-white—the colors of ink and paper. I thought Miller’s understated reading from the MP3 file at the Storehouse could carry the video without any additional sounds, especially since the poem’s all about reading. Like the insects in Equiloud’s macro shots, literate human beings are thoroughly absorbed and enmeshed in the warp of text. (In Latin, text means “woven.”)

The writer, editor and videopoet Dustin Luke Nelson also tried his hand at a remix of Miller’s text. He took a very different approach:

It’s fascinating how much variation there can be in how we see or hear a given text.