Nationality: United States

Half-life by Luisa A. Igloria

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Two Moving Poems regulars—filmmaker Eduardo Yagüe and poet Luisa A. Igloria—in their first collaboration, a film for the Visible Poetry Project. Luisa provided the voiceover, and the actress, as in so many of Eduardo’s poetry films, is the wonderful Gabriella Roy. The music is an original composition by Four Hands Project. The poem originally appeared on Via Negativa, the literary blog I share with Luisa, last October.

Luisa had another poetry video this spring, too: Marc Neys (a.k.a. Swoon) made the trailer for her latest collection of poems, The Buddha Wonders if She is Having a Mid-Life Crisis.

Small Shoes by Maggie Smith

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This simple but devastating poetry film pairs U.S. poet Maggie Smith with Irish filmmaker Kate Dolan. It’s the latest web release from Motionpoems’ Season 8, “Dear Mr. President”. As a nature lover I appreciated the inclusion of a starfish in one shot, subtly suggesting a link between the deaths of human refugees and of species impacted by global warming — a small but effective example of how a film can add additional dimensions to the poem on the page.

The Ayes Have It by Tiana Clark

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Directed by Savanah Leaf, this is the first film from Motionpoems’ Season 8, “Dear Mr. President,” to be released on the web. Tiana Clark‘s poem is included in her collection I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood, which won the 2017 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize and is due out this fall from the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Click through to Vimeo for the full credits.

Where Are The African Gods by Abbey Lincoln

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A powerful poem by Abbey Lincoln becomes even more powerful in this viral video, which filmmaker Rodney Passé calls a “meditative portrait of black masculinity.”

A moving recording of the late writer and renowned jazz singer Abbey Lincoln is captured in this new film from Brooklyn-born director Rodney Passé, who has previously worked with powerhouse music video director Kahlil Joseph. Reading from her own works, Lincoln’s voice sets the tone for a film that explores the African American experience through fathers and their sons.

You can also watch Lincoln reciting the poem, along with “The Man Who Has The Magic,” in this interview on YouTube:

Hat-tip: Cinematic Poems.

Elephant by Elisabet Velasquez

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Brooklyn-based Puerto Rican poet Elisabet Velasquez took the top prize in Button Poetry’s 2017 Video Contest with Elephant, which she calls

a short choreo-film entirely produced by women of color against street harassment. The video is the collective effort of a group of interdisciplinary artists from New York City who came together to highlight the importance of looking at street harassment from a lens of reclamation of power.

We believe that all people who identify as women as well as gender nonconforming individuals who are impacted by street harassment have a right to their bodies and in this video we take our bodies back.

If you or any one you know has been impacted by street harassment in any way we invite you to share.

Peruvian filmmaker Connie Chavez directed the film and Keomi Tarver is the dancer and choreographer, with body art by Alicia C. Cobb.

Elegance/Refusal by Sojourner Ahebee

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A wonderful primer on the personal and political meanings of hair in the Black community by Palo Alto, California-based poet Sojourner Ahebee, directed by Christian Osagiede. I saw an earlier version of this film appear on Vimeo five months ago, and didn’t share it then because the credits indicated that it was a submission to the 2017 Button Video Contest, and I had a hunch it might place. Sure enough, it’s a runner-up! Here’s the description that Ahebee posted then:

This poem, “Elegance/Refusal,” is interested in mapping a brief history of hair in the Black community. The poem’s title is drawn from a Coco Chanel quote in which she says: “Elegance is refusal.” For me, Chanel’s words lit a fire inside of me and pushed me to document/give language to the ways Black women/femmes perform resistance (“refusal”) through fashion/hair; how they use beauty aesthetics to ask the world to see them, and how they create and constantly re-create new visions of themselves for themselves. This is also a poem about intimacy between Black women. Hope you enjoy.

To read more poems from my debut poetry collection, check out my chapbook, “Reporting from the Belly of the Night” at sojournerahebee.com

Kinsugi by Safia Elhillo

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I’ve had some critical things to say over the years about the use of poetry in advertising, but this Under Armour ad does it right. First off, they hire a contemporary poet, Sudanese-American poet Safia Elhillo, rather than re-purposing some out-of-copyright Walt Whitman or whatever, and they give her credit right up front: “words by Safia Elhillo.” (I saw a performance poetry-style ad for Transport for London two years ago that didn’t credit the poet at all.) Second, it actually feels like a real filmpoem: the words and images go together in a fresh and interesting way, suggesting that the poet worked closely with the (uncredited) filmmakers. I’m especially impressed considering how tired and cliched this kind of athlete-triumphing-over-adversity narrative has otherwise become in American television.

Perhaps that’s why the Under Armour advertising people decided to hire poets. This is one of a series of poetry-film ads they’ve produced, each with a tie-in to the Winter Olympics. An article in the Baltimore Sun by Lorraine Mirabella, “Under Armour unveils Lindsey Vonn film ahead of Olympics,” has the whole story:

Under Armour has put out a short film on Lindsey Vonn in its Unlike Any women’s campaign, just days before the start of Winter Games in South Korea, where the world champion skier will compete in her first Olympics since 2010.

The campaign, which celebrates female athletes who shatter expectations, looks at ways in which debilitating injuries and setbacks have served to motivate Vonn. The alpine skier missed the 2014 Olympics because of a serious knee injury. Last year, while training, she broke an arm.

The video is set to a poem by Safia Elhillo, author of last year’s The January Children, who wrote the piece specifically for Vonn. It’s called, “Kintsugi,” the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer mixed with powdered gold, silver or platinum.

“This is what I became each wound filled with sunlight to bond my old self to my new,” the poem goes, recited in its debut in the film by the poet.

Under Armour has been working with Elhillo over the past few months on the poem and film, which is a new, remix of Vonn’s original Unlike Any video released last fall.

“It accentuates not just my strengths, but also my weaknesses and my story and coming back from adversity,” Vonn said in a Sun interview in October. “I’m strong because of everything I’ve been through.”

The sports brand launched its Unlike Any campaign in July. Each of five films featured spoken word artists who created poems to fit stories of each of five athletes, Misty Copeland, American Ballet Theater principal ballerina; Alison Desir, founder of Harlem Run Crew; sprinter Natasha Hastings; professional stuntwoman Jessie Graff and Chinese taekwondo champion and actress Zoe Zhang.

Under Armour said the latest Vonn video, coming off her World Cup wins this past weekend, was inspired by the athlete’s “undeniable strength and dedication to her sport…Lindsey is more than ready for gold.”