Nationality: United States

A Day at the Mall Reminds Me of America by Sarah Blake

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Motionpoems has just kicked off its 6th season with this tour de force from the Turkish-American filmmaker Ayse Altinok. The cinematography is by Greg Schmidt and the music by William Orbit.

Sarah Blake‘s poem appears in her debut collection Mr. West, an “unauthorized lyric biography of Kanye West” which Evie Shockley calls “tender without being sentimental, funny without being cruel, and obsessive without being exploitative.” Check out Arisa White‘s interviews with Blake and Altinok at the Motionpoems website. Blake says, in part:

I love the film. I felt like [Ayşe] made me a version of Kanye West’s music video for his song, ‘Flashing Lights’—a version of it just for me and my poem.

And Altinok notes that she deliberately chose a shorter poem with lots of room for cinematic exploration:

“Less words, more story” is very interesting to me in any discipline. I didn’t want to explain the poem, I wanted to duet the words and the meanings explored in the text. When I read the poem, I immediately saw the 14-year-old girl and her world. It wasn’t a struggle to bring her to life. It was a very relevant subject to me. I love youth culture and also visual poetry; this was a heavenly project. […]

After I read the poem I immediately started writing a script. It was more of a shot-list at first. I didn’t bother writing the happenings in a poetic way, I thought the poetry was already written by Sarah Blake, so I only put ideas on paper in a very practical manner. It was literally a list of scenes. I definitely knew my character needed to be the 14-year-old, rather than the woman who is the pregnant narrator. She didn’t seem too interesting to me, like myself—I can never make a film about me, but I want to make films about things I like. Rather, things I find fruitful (story-wise). I also thought my writing sucked, so at that point, I turned to photography. I started looking at pictures, mostly portraits, and created this character, and give her an identity. I felt very free—that was the best part of working with a poem.

In terms of script, though, I had to structure it in a way that felt compelling, and with a sense of beginning, middle, and end. It was a fragile story, I didn’t want to make a big statement, but I didn’t want to create just fluff, with a bunch of beautiful images and no thread, either—it was a gentle balance, not too much story that kills the poem, but not too freestyle that loses its meaning. I wanted people to feel what it’s like to live this character’s life, rather then me telling them how to.

Read the rest.

Considering Luminescence / Consideraciones Sobre la Luz by Laura M Kaminski

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Spanish filmmaker Eduardo Yagüe has once again taken the difficult route and produced two entirely different films for the English and Spanish versions of a text. The author is U.S. poet Laura M Kaminski. For Considering Luminescence, Yagüe used the voice recording by Maureen Alsop at The Poetry Storehouse and music by Fourhands Project, and worked with the actress Gabrielle Roy. Consideraciones Sobre la Luz features Yagüe’s own translation and voice, music by Martin Rach, and the actor Faustino Fernández. Both films were shot this May, the first in Madrid and the second in Gijón.

Part 5 by Claire Williams

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Claire Williams is both poet and performer here—but this is not a performance-poetry video, as you’ll see. Cinematography, design and editing are by Etta Jaffe, with production assistance by Grace Williams.

Apology of Genius by Mina Loy

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A blog post about modernists by Ira Lightman, current digital poet-in-residence at the Poetry School, made me realize I’d never posted anything by Mina Loy at Moving Poems. Searching Vimeo, I found this film by the Finnish videopoet J.P. Sipilä.

This film poem is based on a poem ‘Apology of Genius’ by Mina Loy. I have always read this poem as a poem against futurism, even Loy was herself considered as a futurist. It stand agains the rough and hard world where thoughts and time are replaced by power and speed. And this is something I have underlined on this film. This film poem is about inequality, about something that prevents us from understanding each other. It’s an apology of understanding.

The music is credited to Samuli Sailo, with additional sounds from freesound.org. Though the film uses a little less than half of Loy’s text, it strikes me as very true to her spirit. (Read the complete poem at allpoetry.com.)

I wonder what Loy would’ve thought of videopoetry? I’ve always loved her definition of poetry:

Poetry is prose bewitched, a music made of visual thoughts, the sound of an idea.

Lexiconography 1 by Heid E. Erdrich and Margaret Noodin

A fascinating experiment in translation. R. Vincent Moniz, Jr. is the producer and co-director with Jonathan Thunder (art direction and animation). Poet Heid E. Erdrich collaborated with translator Margaret Noodin of Ojibwe.net, as the YouTube description makes clear:

This short poem film, created by R. Vincent Moniz, Jr. and Jonathan Thunder, experiments with animation and sound in a bi-lingual tribute to the nearly extinct wooden clothespin. Created with English words from a bi-lingual dictionary entry for the word “cloud” the poem is brought to action in both English and Anishinaabemowin.

“Lexiconography 1″ is one of a series of poems Heid E. Erdrich has collaborated on with Margaret Noodin. Heid’s original text in English (written with an awareness of Ojibwe language) is translated into Anishinaabemowin and then back into English to reveal tensions between the language as Noodin sees them. The animated poem is not a strict translation of the English. “Lexiconography 1″ is available as a FREE downloadable work of art by Meghan Keane at www.broadsidedpress.org

Here’s that artwork (PDF).

I’ve long maintained that videopoetry is a great medium for communicating the power of poetry across language barriers, and I think this is a good example of that.

I Would Like to Go On A Bike Ride by Denise Newman

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A minimalist, author-made videopoem:

Images and initial sound by Denise Newman
Singing by Dame Joan Sutherland “Rose Softly Blooming” from the opera Zemira and Azor

Newman, who also teaches college undergraduates, has somehow managed to get snails to collaborate on videopoems. I asked her how she did it, and she replied:

Aren’t those snails talented? No training and it only took one shot. I worked with other snails after that but had to become a “snail whisperer” to get them to cooperate.

One Story by Cristina Norcross

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This Swoon (Marc Neys) film for a Poetry Storehouse poem by Cristina Norcross remixes footage from kenji kawasawa and Colby Moore. Swoon’s blog post about the film includes an interesting reaction from the poet:

Our lives are separate, yet we are bonded – part of an organic whole. Perhaps we are becoming more and more isolated. I would like to believe that there is hope for us to find common ground – to rediscover the beauty of our human connection.

When I first sat down to write the poem, “One Story,” I was actually in the middle of watching Charlie Kaufman’s film, Synecdoche, New York (2008), with Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The dialogue and concept of the film struck a chord with me, and I was unable to wait until the end, to start writing down thoughts. I was transfixed by the notion of how our separateness and isolation is actually a dream.

We are all one. We are all part of the same story. From this seed, I fleshed out images of people I knew or people I had seen on the street. The actress learning her lines on a threadbare couch, sitting on hope, was (and still is) me and my fellow poet, artist, songwriter friends. We are all dreaming about having our ideas take shape – having them take flight.

When I found out that Marc Neys was developing a video remix for my poem, I was quite excited to see how he would interpret the words through the lens of film, images, and music. From the first glimpse, I was captivated by the balloons and mesmerized by the atmospheric sounds and voices underneath the recording of my poem. Each time I view the film, I see more details that have meaning for me. Marc truly captures the bustling, city feeling of many individuals sharing space. He also skillfully conveys how each person is unique. Each balloon finds its own direction, and yet at the end, the balloons form concentric circles. There is a never-ending string that connects us. We belong to one another. You are those feet drifting back and forth in the hammock. You are the father holding a toddler on your shoulders. These images are a glimpse and a gift. Even the very end of the film leaves an echo of how we connect: “What is your name? Mary? That is beautiful. That is a beautiful name.”

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