How to lift him by Ed Madden

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

Here’s a Sunday bonus video, a poetic un-sermon after my own heart from one of our finest Southern poets. Ed Madden’s TEDx talk seamlessly incorporates three poems from his 2013 collection My Father’s House: “How to lift him,” “Knowledge,” and “Thirst.” The book’s publisher, Ron Mohring, describes this talk as “Frank, open, painful, specific, direct, moving, and perhaps above all, generous.” I was especially moved by Madden’s quietly radical questioning of the power of communication to change those around us, and his refusal to grasp at easy, glib truths.

The video is also available at the TEDx site.

Glaoch/Call by Doireann Ní Ghríofa

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

A film adaptation by Peter Madden of a piece originally titled “Skype,” by the bilingual Irish poet Doireann Ní Ghríofa. Madden first released an English version, about which he noted: “This is basically a performance based video, Doireann simply reads the poem on skype.” Then he made Glaoch (embedded above): “Shot to the same beat as its English version ‘Call’ it varies only very slightly, echoing the changes that occur in translation.”

Both films were part of a recent feature of Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s poetry in Numéro Cinq, which includes her statement about this poem:

Glaoch/Call is a consideration of modern life and love. I am intrigued by the multiple paradoxes of contemporary life — we are more connected than ever through technology, and yet there often remains a fundamental disconnect between us, an emotional distance, a fundamental interpersonal detachment. This poem arose from dissonance between these opposing constructs, and our collaboration in film seeks to further explore this matter.

I know I don’t post nearly as many performance videos here as I could. Sometimes that’s because the poetry is too didactic (a common failing especially of spoken-word poetry, in my view), but more often than not because the filming simply isn’t imaginative enough. But this film, short as it is, proves that a talented filmmaker can transform a performance video into something wonderful — and perhaps transcend the genre altogether. This could just as easily be classed as a videopoem/filmpoem that happens to feature the poet.

Then of course there’s the pleasure of watching and hearing a poem read in another language while reading a good translation in subtitles. That’s one of the things that most interests me about poetry video in general: the way it can be used to bring the music of poetry in other languages across, at the same time helping poets who write in languages with relatively small numbers of speakers to reach a global audience.

Snow Moon by Erica Goss

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

This is the second installment in the 12 Moons collaborative videopoem series produced by Swoon (Marc Neys), Kathy McTavish and Nic S. with texts by Erica Goss for publication in Atticus Review. Marc notes that

A large part of the images for this one came from Bea Mariano (from

I really liked the concentration that oozed from these, so I asked if I could re-edit some parts of it for this videopoem. A big thanks to her.

Just as in Wolf Moon, I wanted the ending to take us somewhere completely different. I wanted water, overpowering, and loads of it.

I can’t express enough how much fun it is to work on videopoems with this kind of building blocks.

Read the rest (and visit Atticus Review for full bios of each participant).

Dolor by Theodore Roethke

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

This video combines four of my favorite things: Theodore Roethke’s poetry, stop-motion animation, machine-generated poetry reading, and legos. It’s by Manami Okada, who described it briefly on Vimeo:

Stop motion video using spray-painted Legos. A factory setting used to demonstrate the conformity portrayed in Roethke’s poem “Dolor.” Taken with Sony Nex-3

To flee from memory… by Emily Dickinson

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

To Flee From Memory is “A short film about being lost set to a poem by Emily Dickinson,” according to the director, Irish filmmaker Simon Eustace. Click through to Vimeo for a full list of credits. The voiceover is a bit quiet, so let me paste in the text of the poem:

To flee from memory
Had we the Wings
Many would fly
Inured to slower things
Birds with surprise
Would scan the cowering Van
Of men escaping
From the mind of man

My First Memory of A Black and White Moon by Karin Wraley Barbee

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

As a frequent writer of erasure poems, I was excited to see this animation by artist Erin Zerbe of what she tells us is

an erasure poem by Karin Wraley Barbee. The source for the erasure was Sarah Palin’s book “Going Rogue”. The audio was performed by Kathy Graves.

I wasn’t able to turn up much about the poet online, except for three fine poems in DIAGRAM.

eine zweite dritte sonne (a second third sun) by Oravin

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

Text, voice, sound and visuals are all by Max Oravin, an Austrian poet, video artist and audiovisual performer currently living in Finland. Be sure to click on the CC icon below the video for the English subtitles.

For more of Oravin’s videos, browse the Visuals tag at his blog. I asked him about the provenance of the footage used here, and he wrote:

The video uses a mixture of original and found footage. While I shot some sea animals for the first half of the video in Berlin’s magnificent Aquarium, I use heavily edited YouTube videos in the second part.

As I create videos for my own poetry, I try to use visuals as a means to reveal hidden layers in the text. By avoiding a literal visualization, I can make explicit some associations I had while writing the poems.