The Poster Reads by Nicelle Davis

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The latest poetry animation by artist (and Moving Poems Magazine columnist) Cheryl Gross illustrates a poem by her long-time collaborator Nicelle Davis. Additional credits include “Voice: Robert Fisher, Music: David Michael Curry, Performed by: Willard Grant Conspiracy.” Cheryl’s succinct description is also worth quoting:

This video poem tells of the emotional impact that terrorist drills, conducted by police, have on a non affluent community.

A powerful, affecting poem. I like how the viewer/listener gradually comes to understand that what originally seemed like surrealist hyperbole is in fact all too real — though Cheryl’s drawings keep our attention focused on just how wrong and bizarre it is.

Amerika (The Man Who Disappeared) by Alastair Cook

This is Filmpoem 50, a collaboration between Scottish filmpoet Alastair Cook and 20 other poets hailing from Scotland, England, Ireland, the U.S., South Africa and Belgium. I have a rule against posting films containing my own poetry to Moving Poems, but in this case my lines account for only 1/20th of the poem, so I decided not to be precious about it. Besides, it’s too important a poetry film not to feature. The composition process involved Alastair sending each writer a snippet of found film. To quote his original email:

You can be trite, erudite, short or shorter (no more than three or four lines) but the brief is this—Americana, the 1950s, travel.

All the clips are from the same batch of film and the artistic conceit is that a narrative will thread through these. This batch of film has this family move through America over the years, these boys grow up and some of the footage I have is heart-wrenching, always tinged with the salient and sombre fact that I source these from house-clearances, that the death of the filmmaker releases this footage to me.

The official description, from Vimeo and the Filmpoem website, reads:

Watch Alastair Cook’s brand new film, three years in the making, with new writing by twenty of the world’s best poets, sountracked by composer Luca Nasciutia and read by poet Rachel McCrum – screens worldwide from Autumn 2016. New ekphrasis work by poets John Glenday, Vicki Feaver, Stevie Ronnie, Janie McKie, Brian Johnstone, Jo Bell, Andrew Philip, Linda France, Dave Bonta, Angela Readman, Michael Vandebril, Gerard Rudolf, George Szirtes, Emily Dodd, Ian Duhig, Rachel McCrum, Robert Peake, Polly Rowena Atkin, Pippa Little and Vona Groarke.

This was originally planned as Filmpoem 40, but got delayed for a number of reasons, during which I believe the concept changed and matured a bit. I list Alastair as the chief poet here because it was his concept from start to finish, and he edited and moved around the submissions after they all came in. The decision to have a single narrator was, I think, a good one, but it’s amazing how well the conjoined text holds together on its own. Clearly, this is an approach to filmpoetry/videopoetry composition deserving of further experimentation. Alastair had been building on what he learned in making his Twenty Second Filmpoem back in 2012, which also involved 20 poets and some found footage.

In other Filmpoem-related news, I see that there will be a fourth Filmpoem Festival, or series of festivals, dubbed Filmpoem Sixteen, though it doesn’t sound as if we can expect an open call:

Filmpoem Sixteen will focus on a series of invited curated events. The first of these is at the Hauge Centre in Ulvik in Norway, where Alastair is artist in residence in May. Alastair has directed The Sword, a new film working with Hauge’s incredible landscape poetry, alongside readings by John Glenday, cinematography by James Norton and sound by Luca Nasciuti; the film will premier on May 12th. Alongside this new film, the Hauge Centre will screen a Scottih retrospective of Alastair’s work and selected works by others from the Filmpoem Festival submission archive.

Check back for further announcements as our new director Helmie Stil brings her own flavour to Filmpoem.

Raven Spell by Carolyn Hembree

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New Orleans-based poet Carolyn Hembree and director John Lavin (Bloodrush Films) have collaborated on a videopoem that really raises the bar for poetry book trailers. The book, Rigging a Chevy into a Time Machine and Other Ways to Escape a Plague (Trio House Press, 2016), has already won two awards as a manuscript: the 2015 Trio Award, selected by Neil Shepard, and the 2015 Marsh Hawk Press Rochelle Ratner Memorial Award, selected by Stephanie Strickland. The trailer is equally impressive, featuring Hembree’s dramatic, incantatory voiceover and a spellbinding blend of unsettling images. As beer writers like to say about exceptionally tasty brews, this is very moreish. And just a bit inebriating.

Gecompliceerde Schaduwen / Complicated Shadows by Swoon (Marc Neys)

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With 238 videos, most of them poetry films, up on Vimeo, the prolific Belgian artist Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon is taking a well-deserved break from videopoetry this year to focus on one of his other passions: composing electronic music. This is one of the last videos he uploaded before his sabbatical, and unusually for him, it uses a text of his own composition, with English subtitles translated by Annmarie Sauer. He’s recycled some footage from Jan Eerala, but everything else—”Words, voice, concept, camera, editing & music”—is his own.

This is something that I think every serious poetry filmmaker should attempt at least once. You don’t have to be an expert poet to make a powerful and effective videopoem; you simply have to have a well-tuned artist’s eye and musician’s ear for what kinds of sequences and juxtapositions work, so that the whole might become greater than the sum of its parts. Marc makes it look easy, but of course it isn’t. Of all the poetry filmmakers I know, he may be the closest to logging those 10,000 hours of practice supposedly required to turn one into a master.

God’s Dilemma by Cindy St. Onge

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A thought-provoking author-made videopoem from Cindy St. Onge with well-chosen stock footage and music by Caveone. You can read St. Onge’s description on Vimeo, though I feel the film is best approached without knowing what she had in mind initially.

Accumulate by eddie d

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Last week we saw eddie d’s genius for poetic remix in a short videopoem from the videotape era, “Poem #7.” Here’s a longer and more ingenious example of that technique from 2014.

In an age when even smartphones produce HD video, eddie d collects old SD dvds and instruction videos to search for material to use for his works. This Lo-Fi approach has resulted in a video poem which stars one man and his numbers. The poem might be about the financial crises, terrorists, or bankers, or just about everyday problems we all have to endure. The question that remains is: How much more? 5?
One thing is certain: as always with eddie d videos, the work is short enough to fit in anyone’s pocket.

Intertwined by Eleni Cay

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Both poem and concept are credited to the Slovakian poet Eleni Cay; animation and score are the work of beyon wren moor of the ecofeminist film and theater production company LoveHoldLetGo (which has apparently let go of its former domain, loveholdletgo.com). The YouTube description also notes that “Intertwined was shortlisted for the Elbow Room Prize 2015 and for the Ó Bhéal International Poetry-Film Competition 2015.”

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