Nan by Eden Tautali

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This is the winning poem from New Zealand’s National Schools Poetry Award for young writers (Year 12 and 13 students). The animation is by a commercial design agency, Neogine Design. I’m not always crazy about kinetic text animations; this is a good example of how to do it right, I think. And while I might’ve preferred a soundtrack, silence isn’t a bad choice, either, considering the subject of the poem.

Bad Daughter by Sarah Gorham

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This is (I think) the title poem from the book by Sarah Gorham forthcoming from Four Way Books. Tucker Capps, the filmmaker, has a production company specializing in book trailers, and I was interested to see what he charges [PDF]. I’m guessing this one was in the $300-$700 range (“Text, stills, basic studio imagery, local B-roll, motion graphics, voiceover”), unless it qualifies as a full-scale animation, in which case it would’ve cost Four Way Books $2,000. In either case, good on them for going the extra mile to promote a book of poetry.

Field by Catherine Pond

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Catherine Pond doesn’t appear to have a website yet, but it’s always exciting to see a talented young poet venturing into videopoetry.

(By the way, sorry about yesterday’s disappearing post. I’d set it to auto-publish and didn’t realize until after it appeared that the filmmaker had restricted the video from playback on unapproved sites. Not sure why people do that, but whatever.)

An armed man lurks in ambush by Howie Good

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Swoon’s latest in his series of videos for poems by Howie Good is something a bit different: a short called “Not Again (Pripyat),” using footage of the abandoned city in the Chernobyl evacuation zone, with Howie’s text appropriated for a kind of surreal documentary. Let me quote the description on Vimeo for the credits and such:

The images in the film are footage from a film about Pripyat (credit to Golden Movies Productions,2009)

Images before the disaster at the nuclear plant, images of the evacuation of the town, images of the ghost town now. Hence the title of the film, Not Again.

Although the poem by Howie is about other things and places, I wanted the images from Pripyat [to] add another dimension to the story, the poem, the atmosphere of the whole film.

Words: Howie Good
Voice: Nic Sebastian for Whale Sound
Concept, videotreats, editing and music: Swoon

“An armed man lurks in ambush” is the title poem of a full-length collection forthcoming from Despertanto (who also published Howie’s third book, Everything Reminds Me of Me, back in March). The text of the poem may be read on a site Swoon has set up for the texts used in all his videopoems to date, as well as in the Whale Sound audio chapbook, Threatening Weather, in which it originally appeared.

“The Poet of Baghdad”: Nabeel Yasin

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There’s a real dearth of English-subtitled Arabic poetry recitation on the web; this goes a small way toward righting the balance. It’s interesting to see how poetry is chanted or sung in Arabic, rather than simply read (much less mumbled). Another thing that might be a little difficult for some of us to get our heads around is a poet becoming so popular that he could be branded an enemy of the state, and his works become a relying cry for people opposed to the established order. Such was the case with Nabeel Yasin, Iraq’s most celebrated poet (and last year, an unsuccessful candidate for prime minister), who has been compared to Bob Dylan in his impact on Iraqi society from the late 60s on.

“The Poet of Baghdad” was directed by Georgie Weedon for Al Jazeera, and has just been re-uploaded to YouTube as a single video. The blending of poetry recitation with reminiscence is very effective, I think, and the reflections on exile will probably resonate with emigrants, voluntary and involuntary, from many lands. Al Jazeera posted an interview with the director in early 2010.

When Nights Were Dark by Forrest Gander

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It’s great to see a writer of Forrest Gander’s stature making his own videopoems. (So many don’t even bother to put up websites.)

Gander’s poetry can be challenging, but the images in this video tempt me to listen more than once, and I think also encourage receptivity through visual suggestion. Incidentally, there are lots of rock canyons like this scattered around the Appalachians — mossy, fern-draped, secret places — if you know where to look.

“Heaven is so far of the Mind” by Emily Dickinson

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A new Moving Poems production. This is from 1862, #413 in the R. W. Franklin edition, and while not one of Dickinson’s greatest poems, it does encapsulate, I think, one of her core beliefs, and is therefore a useful key to understanding her work as a whole. I couldn’t resist adding an ironic visual reference to one of her most famous poems.