Nationality: United States

When You Are Quiet by Laura Theobold

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This quietly terrifying 8mm short by Andrew Theodore Balasia is a video trailer for Laura Theobald‘s new book, What My Hair Says About You, from Sad Spell Press. According the publisher’s description,

These poems break down the self—plucking the sun out of the sky, throwing bones at the void—while courting issues of identity, gender, sex, love, and loss in biting, blunt vernacular. What My Hair Says About You is a jilting confessional debut, with an ear pressed to a flowery, bone-littered floor.

Household Tips for a New Era by Joanna Fuhrman

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This brilliant author-made videopoem seemed like a good one with which to start a new season of regular posts at Moving Poems. Joanna Fuhrman is the author of five books of poetry, including Pageant (2009), winner of the Kinereth Gensler Prize from Alice James Books; and The Year of Yellow Butterflies (Hanging Loose Press, 2015). Her page at the Poetry Foundation website notes that

Her poetry is humorous and surreal, mining references from pop and high culture. Writing about Fuhrman’s work for BOMBLOG, Susie DeFord observed that Fuhrman “takes the best of the surrealist and narrative poetry, weaving social and personal stories with extreme wit, imagination.”

These qualities are certainly on display here and in the other nine videopoems which she’s recently uploaded to Vimeo. “Witty” was the first word that came to my mind when I started browsing through her work. And it’s always great to see a widely published poet with serious video-making chops.

Good Bones by Maggie Smith

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Motionpoems’ latest release is based on U.S. poet Maggie Smith‘s viral poem. As director Anaïs La Rocca explains,

In the summer of 2016, Maggie Smith sat in a Starbucks in Bexley, Ohio, and wrote a poem. “Life is short, though I keep this from my children,” it began. Smith had no idea that she was setting down the first lines of a work that would seize the mood — and social-media accounts — of so many people in the tumultuous year that was 2016.

A year later, Director Anais La Rocca teamed up with Maggie Smith to bring this poem to life in the short film “Good Bones”.

Good Bones is a heartfelt work that grapples with pain, injustice, unfairness and disillusionment— all in a fantastical story told through the eyes of a six year old girl and the voice of her mother.

Written, directed, produced and post produced by an all female team, this film embodies the power, strength and courage within women, and our responsibility to pass on and teach this courage to our little girls.

In the film, the mother takes on the role of a real estate agent: “I am trying/ to sell them the world. Any decent realtor, walking you through a real s***hole, chirps on about good bones: This place could be beautiful, right? You could make this place beautiful.”

For the text of the poem, see Waxwing, where it originally appeared — or get hold of Smith’s 2017 collection, also titled Good Bones.

Regina by Lina Ramona Vitkauskas

Lithuanian-American-Canadian poet Lina Ramona Vitkauskas has been directing a series of short but powerful cinepoems for her collection White Stockings with the help of visual artist Tess Cortés (editing, arrangement and score). Watch the others on Vimeo. They deserve many more views than they have received so far.

You’re Dead, America by Danez Smith

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If you liked This is America, the Childish Gambino rap video by Hiro Murai, you’ll be riveted by this latest film from Motionpoems. Serbian-American director Jovan Todorovic‘s interpretation of a Danez Smith poem is surely one of the most searing and impactful poetry films in Motionpoems’ history. See Todorovich’s website for the full credits.

The film debuted online not at Motionpoems but at Nowness, which included this quote from the director:

America and the American dream is an emotion, and it used to be an attainable dream. This sentiment is quickly dissolving. My wish is to address this despair purely on an emotional level. This is a poetic short film that explores what has happened to the idea of the American Dream… a visceral meditation on the idea of death and decay… and finally, rebirth.

They go on to interview Todorovich “about social sickness, alienation, and poetry’s relationship to film.” It’s worth reading in full; I’ll just quote the last bit:

NOWNESS: A poem is such a mercurial, elusive thing. What was it like turning a poem into a film?

Jovan: It was an exciting and specific process for me precisely because the inspiration was a poem. Because this poem creates feelings through the juxtaposition of very sensory pictures, scenes and moments I was inspired to construct the film similarly. Rather than writing by consciously building meaning I turned to some of my dreams and built the script and scenes around what I feel about the world today. This kind of ‘open’ process of building scenes allowed me to work with all authors on the film in a way where they would have space to put their own experiences and feelings about the theme while staying in line with the emotional tone and context that I’ve initially based the scenes upon.

The poem originally appeared in Buzzfeed on November 9, 2016—the day after the election of Donald Trump—and was reprinted in Smith’s celebrated 2017 collection Don’t Call Us Dead. It’s the latest episode in Motionpoems’ Season 8, “Dear Mr. President,” which has been pretty sensational so far. Kudos all around.

The Opposites Game by Brendan Constantine

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This film of Brendan Constantine‘s brilliant anti-gun poem (click through for the text) kicked off a promising new YouTube channel called Blank Verse Films, the work of L.A.-based filmmaker Mike Gioia. He described his modus operandi in an email: “I travel around filming poets, and then edit the recitations into little films.” He added,

Making the videos is much more challenging and exciting than I originally anticipated. I’m trying lots of different approaches but still don’t feel like I’ve “cracked the code” of how to film poetry. Later this month I’m going to try some experiments with dramatic reenactments of poems that will use actors who speak the lines of poetry.

Do consider subscribing to his channel and (of course) watching the other films. There’s also a Facebook page.

Dear Robot 2018 by Cecelia Chapman and Jeff Crouch

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A new videopoem from Cecelia Chapman and Jeff Crouch. Chapman wrote in an email,

Dear Robot 2018 is a mail collaboration with Jeff Crouch and Diana Magallon music. A personal housebot goes rogue on an emergency disaster relief mission. Jeff and I have spent YEARS emailing each other links and articles about AI and robots and speculation about behavior.