This is one of three short films by the New York-based filmmaker Josh Steinbauer based on poems by Nigerian-born Bangladeshi American writer and photographer Abeer Hoque, all from her book of linked stories, The Lovers and the Leavers (HarperCollins India, 2015). The third partner in this collaboration was the band Dragon Turtle Music, which supplied the soundtrack for each of these deceptively simple videopoems. Watch all three at Scroll.in (but be careful: it’s one of those annoying sites that sends you off into a new article if you scroll down too far).
This clip from D. A. Pennebaker‘s 1967 documentary Don’t Look Back remains an innovative, proto music video. Poetry-film expert Alice Lyons included it in her list of “Ten Films to Look at When You Want to Think About Poetry and Film.”
Andrés Fernández Cordón of the Buenos Aires-based studio Sloop animated and directed this adaptation of a charming poem by U.S. poet Meghann Plunkett. The Vimeo description notes that “We approached the production much in the same way the poem reads, step by step, drawing one frame after the other without knowing before hand where it would take us.” Plunkett provided the voiceover, and the music is by Shayfer James.
I’ve been reading Aram Saroyan‘s Complete Minimal Poems and wondering how one might make a videopoem out of a one-word poem. Then I found British photographer Duncan Wooldridge’s Reading Aram Saroyan On The Bus, 2015 (1minute extract), which deploys Saroyan’s most infamous poem of all. Wooldridge’s Vimeo description:
Reading Aram Saroyan’s poem ‘lighght’ on the bus towards Camberwell Green, as a work of durational reading using the technical apparatus of the camera.
I wonder how long the whole video is? I love the idea of it almost as much as I love the idea of the original poem.
An improvised dance interpretation of a poem by Hawai’i-based poet Ruth Thompson from her latest book, Crazing. The dancers are Jenn Eng, Claudia Hagan, Anna Javier, Chloe Oldfather, Catherine Rehberg, and the poet herself. Camera, editing and audio are by Don Mitchell. The music is from the Miró Quartet.
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.