Nationality: United States

It is an Intensely Private Experience by Danica Depenhart

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This brilliant, author-made stop-motion animation is featured in the latest issue of TriQuarterly. “Found materials do the heavy lifting of visual argument to demonstrate how repurposed materials might reveal something about the person who finds them,” as TriQuarterly‘s video editor Sarah Minor puts it.

It’s good to see that the 152nd issue of this venerable American literary magazine continues in the pattern set since its move to the web several years ago, leading off with a short video section introduced by its own essay. The fact that they seem to have dropped the term “cinepoetry” and call everything a “video essay” now is puzzling, but may simply reflect a shift in fashion among the MFA-led American literary establishment, where it must’ve gotten a huge boost by the bestseller status of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, which includes the transcripts of several video essays from the ongoing “Situations” series filmed in collaboration with John Lucas. The rise of creative nonfiction as a component of MFA programs may also have played a role. But even outside high literary culture, the video essay has certainly become a fashionable genre on both sides of the Atlantic, even if there appears to be little agreement on what it means (that sounds familiar).

At any rate, be sure to visit Triquarterly Issue 152 to watch the other two, er, non-narrative videos by Annelyese Gelman and Spring Ulmer. To learn more about video essay as a genre, this video about essay films by film critic Kevin B. Lee, from a recent opinion piece in Sight&Sound magazine, seems like a good place to start:

The Reason For Sleep by Erica Goss

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Poet Erica Goss says about her latest video:

I filmed this video poem at the Edwin Markham House in History Park in San Jose, California, during the spring of 2017. The poem and video evolved during the editing process, so much so that the poem is substantially altered from the original. In this video, the images ended up influencing the poem more than the other way around.

From 35,000 Feet / Praise Aviophobia by Geffrey Davis

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The latest release from Motionpoems‘ Season 7 was directed by Chad Howitt, and is based on a poem by Geffrey Davis from his 2014 collection Revising the Storm. The cinematography is by James Laxton, who was also the Director of Photography for Moonlight, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Bloodshot Cartography by Sarah Sloat

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The latest in an occasional series of Moving Poems productions matches Sarah Sloat‘s evocation of travel in the tropics to a beautifully decayed old home movie in a sort of lazy person’s homage to Stan Brakhage. The soundtrack is courtesy of the bird-sound library xeno-canto, from recordist Rodrigo Dela Rosa in the Atlantic rainforest of Brazil. The footage has been lightly edited from a single movie at the International Institute for the Conservation, Archiving and Distribution of Other People’s Memories (IICADOM).

Since one of my main motivations in producing videopoems like this, apart from simply having fun, is to demonstrate to other poets just how easy it is, let me give a few more detailed process notes. The whole idea was prompted by viewing the footage (which was silent, like most old home movies, and therefore I think easier to imagine juxtaposed with poetry). I thought it might be interesting to pair it with a text that dealt with decay and/or travel somehow, and after messing around with some Elizabeth Bishop recordings — “Sleeping on the Ceiling” was one strong possibility — I remembered that Sarah Sloat had written something that might work.

I’m in London for the summer and my copies of Sarah’s chapbooks are back home in Pennsylvania, but a web search turned up the likely poem title (from Heiress to a Small Ruin), and since I’d worked with her before, it was simply a matter of emailing to ask for a copy (and of course permission to mess around with it). I experimented with a news ticker-like scroll of the text along the bottom of the screen, and shared that with Sarah via a private upload to Vimeo, but she felt that it was too distracting for a viewer to concentrate simultaneously on the text and the rapidly changing images, and offered to supply a voiceover instead.

I asked Sarah for three readings so I could pick and choose the best bits to combine with the rainforest soundscape (editing as always on Audacity, which is excellent, free, and easy to use). Then it was simply a matter of cutting and splicing the footage to fit. (I use MAGIX Movie Edit Pro, which is a cheaper and somewhat more sophisticated alternative to novice-friendly software such as Adobe Premiere Elements. Its widespread adoption means that most questions one might have about its use are addressed in tutorials on YouTube.) The biggest change I made was to apply a warm filter to most of the footage — all but the “northeast” portion of the poem, which retains the original, cooler look — for that “bloodshot” effect. That might seem like an essential edit, but in fact it was the last thing I thought of, and the video worked almost as well without it. It’s always tricky to decide how much literalism to allow in a videopoem, but given the abstract nature of most of the images, I figured I could get away with some pink, blood-vessel-like webbing here and there.

The Leash by Ada Limón

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After the birthing of bombs of forks and fear,
the frantic automatic weapons unleashed,
the spray of bullets into a crowd holding hands,
that brute sky opening in a slate metal maw
that swallows only the unsayable in each of us, what’s
left? Even the hidden nowhere river is poisoned
orange and acidic by a coal mine….

Ada Limón‘s searing poem was animated by Rachel Visser using “After Effects, paper, paint, sand, clay, yarn, other found objects” and the poet’s own recitation.

Visser has also animated a poem by Czesław Miłosz.

I Ate Up the Whole Thing by Ilana Simons

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Psychologist, writer, and animator Ilana Simons describes her conflicted feelings about the seemingly endless creativity of a fellow artist, Noah Saterstrom, in this wonderful, quirky blend of videopoetry and documentary set to an up-tempo track from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

This upload was the April 17 release from the Visible Poetry Project (which, incidentally, just had a screening in Beijing last Thursday — the first U.S. poetry film festival to travel abroad in a number of years). Simons’ own upload of the video is accompanied by a note that “this is a short intro to a longer documentary I’m making about Noah Saterstrom, a painter”. She has previously made documentaries about Haruki Murakami and the literary critic William Empson.

Encontrada by Erica Goss

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A new videopoem from Erica Goss, who notes on Vimeo:

This is the second video from my poetry collection titled Night Court. I filmed the whole thing at Villa Montalvo, a center for the arts in Saratoga, California, in May 2017. I spent about two weeks, on and off, editing it. “Encontrada” means “found” in Spanish.

The music is by Podington Bear; everything else is Goss’s work. See also her video for the book’s title poem, “Night Court.”

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