Thinking about how the entirely preventable tragedies of the so-called War on Terror unfolded after September 11, 2001, and agonizing about what we might’ve done to stop it, language breaks down. From poet Andrea Assaf and the Art2Action theater group, including video artist Pramila Vasudevan, “Eleven Reflections on September” is
a poetry/spoken word, multimedia performance on Arab American experience, Wars on/of Terror, and “the constant, quiet rain of death amidst beauty” that each autumn brings in a post-9/11 world. This production is based on the series of poems Andrea Assaf has been writing since 2001, spanning the fall of the towers, the on-going wars, and the current revolutions and conflicts sweeping through the Arab world. Aesthetically, the poems explore the disintegration of language in the face of violence, prejudice, and unspeakable horror; as such, they progress from lyrical to abstract and broken. The annual witnessing of autumn leaves becomes a metaphor for the fallen–soldiers and civilians … This multi-disciplinary project includes performances with interactive media design and live music; community dialogues; visual arts exhibits; open mics, panels and opportunities for action through partnerships with Iraq Veterans Against the War and other peace organizations.
The Vimeo description for this video reads:
An excerpt from “Eleven Reflections on September” by Andrea Assaf
Poem # 11: Judgment
Post-script 1: Traveling
Video Art by Pramila Vasudevan.
Sound Design for “Judgment” by Owen Henry & Keegan Fraley.
Choreographic Assignment: Raise me from the dead. From the metaphorical underworld to the heavens. Once you have lifted my body-spirit from the ground, help me travel to the afterlife. Travel with me, and send me on my way.
Cue: After the poem “Judgment” ends (repeating “just stop” 3x), the Daf pulses three times, followed by a chapreez — and the ritual to raise the dead begins. It will continue through the end of “Traveling”.
Movement during the re-mixed/voiceover section of “Judgment”: I am responding to the fragmented, falling, exploding words with my body — torso, arms and head only, while kneeling on the ground. This section is my descent into the underworld, so to speak — or simply my disintegration, from which you will raise/remake me…
A note on “Traveling” — This poem is an English translation of Mohamed Bouazi’s suicide note to his mother, posted on his Facebook page. Tarek al-Tayyib Muhammad ibn Bouazizi, a 26-year old Tunisian fruit vendor who quit high school to work and support his mother and sisters, set himself on fire on December 17, 2010, after his wares were confiscated … A fire that sparked the revolution now known as “The Arab Spring”. His last note is pure poetry, his final act pure protest. The poem, by Andrea Assaf, was published by Mizna in the Spring 2012 issue on “Literature in Revolution.”
Visit the Eleven Reflections on September channel on Vimeo to watch other excerpts from the piece, including live performance videos.
This week at Moving Poems we’re marking the 15th anniversary of the US Congress’ nearly unanimous passage of the Authorization to Use Military Force on September 14, 2001, which launched the modern era of essentially endless, unlimited war. How better to begin than with Iraq War veteran Brian Turner‘s justly famous poem “Here, Bullet“? In an interview recorded at the 2009 Poetry International Festival at Rotterdam, Turner acknowledges the influence of Philip Levine’s poem “They Feed They Lion.” The video concludes with his recitation of the poem.
our first crowdsourced voiceover! Thanks to our voiceover artists John W. Goodman, Jeannie Elizabeth, Louis Murphy, Amy Miller, Jennifer Jabaily-Blackburn, Veronica Suarez, Carrie Simpson, Michelle Meyer, Juliet Patterson, Will Campbell, and Clare McWilliams.
Debaveye’s description on Vimeo:
Feeling empty. Null and void. Finding a new identity.
“At Thirty”, a visual poem about this feeling of being there but not being present.
Non-existent silhouette of ordinary people as they go about their lives in everyday chores.
What mysteries lie hidden in a single name? As if in answer to the OTTERAS videopoem Navn Nome Name and its celebration of a telephone book’s worth of names, Iowa-based artist Sandra Louise Dyas set out to pay closer attention to one great river of a word, as the Vimeo description explains:
River Étude is an experimental video poem inspired by the Mississippi River and John Cage. When I was very little, I learned how [to] spell Mississippi and Dubuque by singing the letters. Life offers you nothing to hang onto. To survive you must learn how to let go and swim. Become the water. Stop resisting.
American poet Max Ritvo‘s death of cancer at 25 was widely mourned on social media last week. As the New York Times noted, much of his work was devoted to chronicling his struggle with Ewing’s sarcoma, which he contracted at 16. The above video is one of a pair of animations by Nate Milton produced to accompany an NPR podcast, as the YouTube description explains:
Ritvo visited the Only Human podcast for the second time during what he called his “farewell tour”. His debut collection, “Four Reincarnations” will be published later this year. Listen to the episode here: http://www.wnyc.org/story/max-ritvo/
See also the other animation, “Poem to My Litter.”
Sarah Jensen directed this adaptation of a poem by Los Angeles-based poet Brendan Constantine (which I found via his website, following a link below his excellent new poem in Rattle, “Red Sugar Blue Smoke“). Here’s the description on Vimeo:
A Hello, Margeaux Production
Written and Read by Brendan Constantine
Write Bloody Publishing
Music by Carina Pearson
Featuring Laura Whitfield and Philip Hood
Concept and Direction by Sarah Jensen
Video and Edit by Amy Hobbs