Sending wishes for a peaceful time this season, to friends and family, near and far. Here is a video just completed. Poem by Laura M Kaminski. Music by Benjamin Dauer & Specta Ciera. My video concept and editing.
Cynic that I am, I found the video unexpectedly moving, so I guess it’s fitting that it be Moving Poems’ holiday selection this year. I join Marie and Laura in sending everyone wishes for peace, now and in the New Year.
How about some lighter fare to help relieve that pre-holiday stress? This is Missed Aches by director Joanna Priestley, based on a poem by Taylor Mali. It took First Prize at the Black Maria Film Festival, which called it “an uproarious animation by one of the nation’s iconic animation artists” and “a cascade of malapropisms.” Here are the full credits from the YouTube description:
Sound Design by Normand Roger and Pierre Yves Drapeau. Music by Pierre Yves Drapeau with Denis Chartrand and Normand Roger. Text Animation by Brian Kinkley. Character design and animation by Don Flores. Storyboards by Dan Schaeffer. Directed, produced and animated by Joanna Priestley. Supported by The Regional Arts and Culture Council and the Caldera Institute.
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.