Directed by Jamil McGinnis and Pat Heywood, Word: Collected Poetry is an exemplary poetry-film anthology that conveys a real sense of the unique character of a vital, passionate community of poets. Jamil and Pat call it
A collection of spoken word poems brought to life, adapted from the work of four poets living in New York City.
“Untitled” by Makayla Posley (0:09)
“band-aids & other temporary healings” by Trace DePass (4:01)
“From the Inside” by Nkosi Nkululeko (7:23)
“Rule #1” by Esther Aloba (11:09)
Essentially, the film is a work of collected poems brought to life. The featured poems’ authors are young poets from New York City. We wanted the film to feel as if someone had wandered into a bookstore and began flipping through a book of poems. […] It’s essentially an extension of the Motionpoem we did (but produced independently of them).
We partnered with a nonprofit called Urban Word NYC, who introduced us to the poets. We wanted to dive into the same themes and ideas that their poetry does, so naturally, collaborating closely with the poets was an essential part of the process. We didn’t want to assume anything about their experiences, but rather create a visual space to explore them further. We raised these questions about the school-to-prison pipeline, the problematic side of creative expression, and queerness, amongst others because they did. They gave us that space.
The film premiered online in Booooooom, which noted that “The film’s production was entirely crowdfunded through Kickstarter, raising over $15,000 through nearly 200 donations in 30 days.” Jamil and Pat told them that
Adapting poetry to film was a lot closer to putting together a thematic puzzle than it is building any kind of narrative. All sorts of space for us as filmmakers opened up to explore their language. Juxtaposing images, observing, asking questions rather than giving answers. We wanted a film that was challenging and abstract, but at the same time, presented moments of meditation.
Click through for photos from the shooting of the film as well as for the full, extensive credits.
A brilliant remix by Miss Muffet AKA Lisa Seidenberg. The Vimeo description:
A poetry film re-invents a stylised text by author Gertrude Stein as a reflection on the current national zeitgeist using visuals from Charlottesville and other assorted Americana.
This is Lost Acres, part of director/composer Jennifer Stock’s Poetry Illumination Project. Though it contains just two lines from Roethke’s long poem “Meditations of an Old Woman”, it does manage to convey something of the poem’s aesthetic and mood. The description reads:
An illumination of lines from Theodore Roethke, centered around abstracted nightscapes. Original music comprised of processed piano sounds.
ON THE OTHER SIDE is a portrait of an aging woman as her “youngness” slips away. Based on a poem by Natalie H. Rogers, the film interweaves voice, animation and music to lay bare the essence of a woman’s vanishing youth; her aging process is irrevocable revealing a deeply fragile and touching reality.
The three narrators are Avis Boone, Duvall O’Steen, and Natalie H. Rogers. Their repetition of lines wouldn’t work for every poetry film, but it’s a good fit for this poem’s disbelieving, incredulous tone.
This is Drive, a remix by Daniel Cantagallo of Robert Creeley’s poem I Know a Man. The poet’s reading is a bit stilted, pausing for the enjambed line breaks (not reproduced by the text on screen here) that were so central to his style, but somehow it makes a perfect fit with the music (“Red Tide” by loscil) and the full-tilt footage. Quoting Cantagallo’s description:
There’s always been something deeply existential about driving…the open road, the possibilty of escape from identity…and of course the threat of death by accident.
In Robert Creeley’s most famous poem, “I Know A Man”, the speaker contemplates what we can do against the darkness and chaos of modern life.
In this cheeky and moody remix, I use a recording of Robert Creeley reading his poem juxtaposed with a 1951 government public information series on automobile safety and the dangers of driving at night.
Driving on the Highway can be watched in all its glory on the Internet Archive. The National Archives description:
TRAINING FILM: On techniques on driving on highway. Sixty percent of all accidents happen at night because of poor visability and fatigue. Reduce speed, use headlights and avoid using interior lights at night.