A brand new videopoem by writer (and former film major) James Brush demonstrating one way to make an effective video with a very short, enigmatic text, marrying Dickinson’s cosmic lines with some footage that is literally out of this world. James put up a blog post about it, which I’ll take the liberty of quoting in full:
This is a video I made for Emily Dickinson’s “Aurora is the effort.” I stumbled on the Jupiter aurora footage at ESA/Hubble and wanted to do something with it. I had Dickinson on my mind since we share a birthday, and I often find myself turning to her work around this time of year, so I started searching for aurora-related Dickinson poems and liked this one for its simplicity and unusual syntax and wording. The sounds are radio static and me rubbing the strings and hitting the back of a bass guitar with some effects from garage band.
I’ve been wanting to do a Dickinson poem for years and even have a concept for another one that maybe someday will get done. Thanks for watching.
For an interesting perspective on what Dickinson might’ve been up to in this poem, see Jed Deppman’s Trying to Think With Emily Dickinson (University of Massachusetts Press, 2008), p. 129 ff. (via Google Books). Deppman finds that “Aurora is the effort”
features the kind of deconstructive paradox that both defines and destabilizes many of Dickinson’s definition poems: the category of “the natural” transforms into the others that philosophers have always used to define it by opposition: the “social,” “cultural” and “artificial.” The specific terms the speaker uses to transform cosmology into cosmetics and make heaven’s two-facedness the basis of a definition under erasure derive in part from the idea—circulating in Amherst thanks to Transcendentalism, Ruskin, Hitchcock, and the Hudson River school—that nature mirros God’s consciousness, that, as Barton Levi St. Armand puts it, “the sensuous veil of nature is but a protective covering over the naked creative spirit of the universe.”
It’s worth reading the analysis in full to realize just how much meaning Dickinson could pack into her gnomic verses.
A film by Sundance Award-winning director Malik Vitthal for Motionpoems, based on the title poem from Carmen Gillespie‘s 2106 collection from Two Silvias Press. An adept juxtaposition of filmpoem lyricism with the kind of storytelling familiar to movie-goers conveys a powerful sense of the experience of loss within the African American community and beyond.
Motionpoems have also released a video interview with Gillespie, filmed and edited by Ramble Pictures, about the origin of the poem and the film:
Eric Doise, who conducted the interview, also put together a lesson plan for poetry teachers [PDF] based on the film and interview — the sort of thing I hope to see a lot more of in the coming years, both from Motionpoems and from other poetry-film makers as well.
Concept, editing, grading & Music: Marc Neys
Field recordings and footage: Jan Eerala
Extra Footage: FKY (from ‘The Sea Also Rises’)
webpage: vimeo.com/fky – Licence: ATTRIBUTION LICENSE 3.0
Thanks to Mazwai & Ray Hsu
A simple but perfect animation of an Anne Sexton poem by Montreal-based multi-disciplinary artist Ohara Hale, with Maria Popova of the venerable Brain Pickings blog supplying the voiceover. It’s been viewed 136,000 times since Hale posted it to Vimeo in May of 2015. Popova blogged about their collaboration — a great post, too long to reproduce here. A snippet:
Hale’s concept, predicated on the mesmerism of angles, was inspired by legendary neurologist Oliver Sacks and his work on how the blind see the world. It sparked in her a fascination with how they construct a kaleidoscope of angularity, which led her to imagine how a dog is perceived not as a single dog but as a million dogs, each “seen” from a different angle. Many of the angles don’t resemble a “dog” in the pictorial sense but still contribute to the understanding of what a dog is.
This way of deconstructing the world into fragments and reconstructing them into a wholeness of understanding is so different from how we see via regular vision that, as Dr. Sacks so movingly wrote in The Mind’s Eye, the newly sighted are often utterly overwhelmed by having to process information in this new way and revert to “blindness,” closing their eyes and continuing to navigate the world scanning for angles.