Orphanage by Matt Hetherington

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

I’m pleased by my own small role in making this happen as managing editor of qarrtsiluni, where the poem first appeared in text form a month ago as the final piece in our Imitation issue, and as compiler of the podcast from which Swoon took the recording of Australian poet Matt Hetherington reading his poem. As we say in the note there, it was “inspired by the poetry of Ian McBryde, particularly his book of one-line poems, Slivers (Melbourne: Flat Chat Press, 2005).”

Swoon blogged some process notes:

I liked the poem and, even more so, his great reading of it for the podcast.
(People who follow my work know how important I think a good reading or voice is for a good videopoem)
[…]
I wanted to keep the pauses he made in his reading, so I didn’t change a thing.
Just added the right track […] and went on a search for the right footage or images. I needed empty houses and remembered a great video I once saw by someone who calls himself Tschmite. He gave me his consent to use footage of it.
I added some of my own recordings and also found amazing images in a series of films made by Graham Gilmore about Tsjernobyl.

I edited all I wanted and needed for the right atmosphere. Gave the words by Matt, the space and the room they needed to unfold themselves.

(Incidentally, I wish more videopoem/filmpoem makers would post such detailed descriptions of their process. It’s really helpful for those of us who are trying to learn the craft.)

Renaissance cyclique / Cyclical rebirth by Marianne

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

(See also the original version without the English subtitles.) A collaboration between writer Marianne, filmmaker Dorianne Wotton and Exomène.

[O]ur three dream, disturbing and crazy worlds intersect, tangle and merge to create the spoken worms: audiovisual pieces in which each medium is strengthened to immerse the audience in their imaginary ternary.
Each artist brings his sensitivity, his approach.
There is a high complementarity between the protagonists of these creations. Round trips between writing, music and images are extremely exciting for everyone. They make the transposition of words, pictures and music spectacle in a real research and a perpetual creation.

The “spoken worms” have been produced several times in Paris and we are looking for new venues in France or abroad.

To watch more of their collaborations, see the page at Marianne’s blog.

Gerald Stern: Still Burning

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

A very well-done documentary portrait from PoetryMattersNow.org, directed, produced and edited by Norbert Lempert. Here’s the description at the Poetry Foundation website:

Produced by Norbert Lempert of REMproductions in association with the Poetry Foundation. Gerald Stern is as much the poet warrior now as when he stunned the poetry world thirty years ago with his book Lucky Life. In that book he first staked out a place for himself and readers that he has continued to make, a place that in his words is “overlooked or ignored or disdained, a place no one else wanted.” This short documentary film, illustrated with materials from Stern’s own archive, features some of Stern’s best known poems. It also includes commentary by poets Ross Gay, Edward Hirsch, Anne Marie Macari, Heather McHugh, and Thomas Lux, each with a unique perspective on Stern as artist and friend.

I thought this would be a good pick for the U.S. Independence Day holiday, especially given the way Stern, Hirsch and Macardi discuss the climate for poetry in the U.S. starting around 2:30 in Part 1. There’s also this from Stern in Part 2, beginning at 2:58:

We remember the famous words: After the Holocaust, after Shoah, there can be no poetry. And the alternative is: After the Shoah, there can be ONLY poetry. “How about no parades, no cannons, no atom bombs? How about no concentration camps, the way the United States runs concentration camps now?” is another way of thinking about it.

I also like Hirsch’s description of Stern in Part 3, starting at 0:38:

He’s really a poet of the egotistical sublime. The I stands in for the natural world, and for the whole world. And he’s experiencing everything himself.

For more on Gerald Stern, and to read samples of his work, see the Poetry Foundation’s page, which includes 32 poems in text form and 12 audio files.

Parler seul / Speech Alone

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

A poem by the great Jean Follain, read by Nic Sebastian for Pizzicati of Hosanna. The translation by W.S. Merwin is from his book-length selection of Follain poems, Transparence of the World, which belongs on every poetry lover’s bookshelf.

I don’t make any great claims for this video; I just wanted some Follain here at Moving Poems and no one else was envideoing him in English.

The Art of Drowning

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

This film by Diego Maclean is currently one of the most popular poetry videos on Vimeo, with 3,294 likes and 97 laudatory comments. Though the rotoscopy succeeds in mimicking the effect of a graphic novel, assuming that was the intent, I personally find it less interesting as a video interpretation of the poem than the student film by Lindsey Butler which I shared two years ago.

According to Jason Sondhi at Short of the Week, this too was a student production:

Maclean created this short film as his graduation film from the Emily Carr Institute in 2009, and it has wrapped up an impressive festival run, playing at Sundance, Annecy and SXSW among others.

Three poems by Donna Vorreyer

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

Escape (a triptych) is Swoon’s first videopoem for a text written in response to his own video prompt. Regular visitors to the Moving Poems forum (or subscribers to our weekly emails) may remember his call for submissions posted on April 24:

I am looking for a writer who is willing to let these three films inspire him/her to write three poems for them…

Look and listen…absorb…look and listen some more…and write…

I’m looking for three new poems (please use the titles of the films) written for these three videos:

Disturbance in the maze
Wailing Wall Crumbs
Ghostless Blues (The story of Vladimir K.)

A number of poets responded to the challenge, and Swoon chose the submission from Chicago-based poet Donna Vorreyer. Personally, I wasn’t surprised by the selection, having recently read Vorreyer’s chapbook Ordering the Hours — it’s terrific.

Swoon blogged a bit about the experiment:

I wanted to turn my working method around. See what came out of it.
Very aware I was, of the fact that these three films were experimental, for the fact the titles could have been a guide for some an obstacle for others. It was an experiment.

I received a lot of questions about what I was looking for in particular, a few questions about timing, a fair amount of poems that were written earlier, not for the three films (though some of them might have worked). […]

I knew Donna from the Propolis Project last year.

Her three poems did exactly what I was hoping for when I put out the call.
She was the first one whose poems gave me the feel that they somehow belonged to the images.
I really had the sense that she reacted to the films and gave them content and a story.

Her poems give these three films a less experimental character, and that was exactly what I was hoping for.
She recorded them for me, so I could start the editing process.

Her words made it fairly easy; I only added a few images or made additional cuts according to the reading of the poem. I did put in some new footage in all three as a leitmotiv, a storyline.

Read the rest (including the texts of the poems). Incidentally, Swoon’s personal website has just been thoroughly revamped to foreground his videopoetry and soundscapes. Check it out.

I spy by Martha McCollough

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

Martha McCollough writes: “A love poem in the voice of a surveillance satellite. Built in aftereffects, Sound design in Logic.”