Nationality: United States

Raven Spell by Carolyn Hembree

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New Orleans-based poet Carolyn Hembree and director John Lavin (Bloodrush Films) have collaborated on a videopoem that really raises the bar for poetry book trailers. The book, Rigging a Chevy into a Time Machine and Other Ways to Escape a Plague (Trio House Press, 2016), has already won two awards as a manuscript: the 2015 Trio Award, selected by Neil Shepard, and the 2015 Marsh Hawk Press Rochelle Ratner Memorial Award, selected by Stephanie Strickland. The trailer is equally impressive, featuring Hembree’s dramatic, incantatory voiceover and a spellbinding blend of unsettling images. As beer writers like to say about exceptionally tasty brews, this is very moreish. And just a bit inebriating.

God’s Dilemma by Cindy St. Onge

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A thought-provoking author-made videopoem from Cindy St. Onge with well-chosen stock footage and music by Caveone. You can read St. Onge’s description on Vimeo, though I feel the film is best approached without knowing what she had in mind initially.

Peyton Place: A Haiku Soap Opera by David Trinidad

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Writer and filmmaker John Bresland, the former video editor for TriQuarterly, made this videopoem for David Trinidad’s haiku collection using clips from the soap opera that prompted the haiku. It appeared in the November 2015 issue of Blackbird, accompanied by a commentary by Gregory Donovan which is essential reading if, like me, you’re too young to remember Peyton Place, “the very first American prime-time soap opera.” It was, he says, “one of the first televised programs in the U.S. to deal frankly with sexual themes, which revealed the hypocrisy and masked immorality beneath the misleadingly peaceful façade of small-town American life.”

In David Trinidad’s Peyton Place: A Haiku Soap Opera (Turtle Point Press, 2013) he has whipped up a haiku concoction to respond, with an energy both antic and erotic, to each of the over 500 episodes of the complete run of the television program. Reading this series of poems, carefully constructed within the confines of a taut form yet unleashing a sardonic and often laugh-generating appreciation of the oddities of a now-dated television drama, one is struck by an experience on the page that brings the television series back into the mind’s eye with a pointed mix of humor, pathos, and social critique.

Meanwhile, the imaginative adaptation by John Bresland, collected, edited and enhanced into an equally layered, genre-challenging video essay, employs actual clips from the television program with the texts of Trinidad’s poems superimposed and narrated. Bresland builds upon Trinidad’s frank exploration of the many dimensions of “the male gaze” and further examines the looking generated not only by the camera’s eye, but also by our own changed vision of a set of cultural moments and icons that time and history have inescapably altered. Bresland’s video piece provides its own unique experience that arises from the atmosphere generated by Trinidad’s book while also plunging us into an even more pointed sense of the absurdities and strange possibilities of realization available in the now transformed and reconstituted images of what was once, and is now again, Peyton Place.

Read the rest.

The Hero is Light by Matt Mullins

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Usually, the American poet and electronic literature expert Matt Mullins makes his own poetry films, but for this one he teamed up with Spanish director Eduardo Yagüe, providing only the poem, voice and music. The poem is dedicated to the Soviet artist Eva Levina Rozengolts (1898-1975), a drawing of whose appears in the credits. According to the Museum of Russian Art website,

Eva Levina-Rozengolts was one of the few Soviet artists who managed to creatively transform and express the trauma of Stalinist repression in a striking visual language.

Trained in the celebrated VkHuTeMas, the hotbed of early Soviet avant-garde, Eva Rozengolts worked as a textile designer and later a copyist at the Soviet Artists’ Union production studios. She was arrested in 1949 and sentenced to ten years of exile in the depth of Siberia where she lived in a settlement on the Yenisei river, in the Krasnoyarsk region. She was assigned to work as a woodcutter, wall painter, and later medical assistant. After returning from exile, she regained her creativity, undeterred by age and failing health. In fact, it was after her return from Siberia, that her talent came into its own. Unknown to the broad public, her work stirred the attention of the new generation of unofficial artists that emerged after Stalin’s death. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Eva Levina-Rozengolts became recognized as one of the outstanding figures of the ‘lost’ artistic generation of the Stalin era.

Yagüe shot the film in Stockholm with actress Carolina Rosa.

Light by Ed Madden

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This short video by Allen Wheeler in support of Ed Madden’s poetry collection Ark has two things I love: time-lapse photography and a single, continuous shot from one position. The flooded field in the shot is presumably even more full of light than the field referenced in the text, but given the nature of photography, it’s hard to see how anything less would have worked. The piano music by Kai Engel was found on the Free Music Archive, according to the credits.

“You live…” by Anaïs Nin (diary excerpt)

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A video by Lisa Seidenberg with text on screen from The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Volume 1. Though the text wasn’t a poem in its original context, its poetic quality taken out of that context and its juxtaposition with lyrical images and a dark ambient score make this more of a videopoem than anything else, I’d say. The Vimeo description reads:

A quote from the writing of Anais Nin, known best for her erotic memoirs is interpreted through dream-like expressionistic images and tantalising original score by composer Karl Warner. Filmed in Antibes, France.

For more of Seidenberg’s work, see her Vimeo channel.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot (2)

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The music and rhythmic recitation from Mikey Georgeson is integral to the success of this interpretation of Eliot’s classic poem by London-based filmmaker and animator Martin Pickles. His Vimeo description:

Poem by T.S. Eliot (1915)
Voice and Music by Mikey Georgeson (2015)
Produced by David M. Allen
Encouraged by Simon Indelicate

Film by Martin Pickles (2015)
The Man: Pat Reid
The Woman: Leslie Cummins
Edited from Super 8 film shot in Soho, Piccadilly and Belgravia in 1999
Film stock: 200 ASA Kodak Security Film created by Alan Doyle
Telecine by Lux

The description at a separate upload by PoetryFilm on Vimeo adds some details:

The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock was premiered at PoetryFilm Paradox at The Groucho Club on 13 December 2015, a venue in the heart of Soho where, as it happens, the work was filmed.

The poem recording was made to celebrate the 100th anniversary of T.S. Eliot’s 1915 poem. In the accompanying film, a man and a woman fail to meet, despite their paths crossing on the neon streets of Soho. The special Super 8 stock (200 ASA Kodak Security Film) was negative rather than positive, and it is this that lends the film a beige ambiance, reflecting Eliot’s “yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes.”

This is the second time I’ve shared a video of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” on Moving Poems; the first was this animation by Everett Wilson back in 2009. But that was just a selection from the text, and used the poet’s own reading, which even at 4:02 minutes dragged, to my ear, because of Eliot’s tiresome “poet voice,” which now sounds so dated.