Y sonó la alarma / And the alarm rang by Lilián Pallares

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Columbian poet Lilián Pallares is an actress with considerable charisma in this entertaining film-poem by New Zealand director Charles Olsen (Antena Blue). The use of silent-movie-style intertitles for Pallares’ text necessitates separate videos for the Spanish and English versions, but it’s worth it, I think, for the way it accentuates the manic, comic style. Spanish composer and pianist Pablo Rubén Maldonado contributed an original composition for the soundtrack.

One Story by Cristina Norcross

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This Swoon (Marc Neys) film for a Poetry Storehouse poem by Cristina Norcross remixes footage from kenji kawasawa and Colby Moore. Swoon’s blog post about the film includes an interesting reaction from the poet:

Our lives are separate, yet we are bonded – part of an organic whole. Perhaps we are becoming more and more isolated. I would like to believe that there is hope for us to find common ground – to rediscover the beauty of our human connection.

When I first sat down to write the poem, “One Story,” I was actually in the middle of watching Charlie Kaufman’s film, Synecdoche, New York (2008), with Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The dialogue and concept of the film struck a chord with me, and I was unable to wait until the end, to start writing down thoughts. I was transfixed by the notion of how our separateness and isolation is actually a dream.

We are all one. We are all part of the same story. From this seed, I fleshed out images of people I knew or people I had seen on the street. The actress learning her lines on a threadbare couch, sitting on hope, was (and still is) me and my fellow poet, artist, songwriter friends. We are all dreaming about having our ideas take shape – having them take flight.

When I found out that Marc Neys was developing a video remix for my poem, I was quite excited to see how he would interpret the words through the lens of film, images, and music. From the first glimpse, I was captivated by the balloons and mesmerized by the atmospheric sounds and voices underneath the recording of my poem. Each time I view the film, I see more details that have meaning for me. Marc truly captures the bustling, city feeling of many individuals sharing space. He also skillfully conveys how each person is unique. Each balloon finds its own direction, and yet at the end, the balloons form concentric circles. There is a never-ending string that connects us. We belong to one another. You are those feet drifting back and forth in the hammock. You are the father holding a toddler on your shoulders. These images are a glimpse and a gift. Even the very end of the film leaves an echo of how we connect: “What is your name? Mary? That is beautiful. That is a beautiful name.”

Sometimes the Water by Kallie Falandays

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Marie Craven remixed some surreal footage by Simone Mogliè and Fernanda Veron, music by Adrian Carter, and Nic Sebastian‘s reading of a poem by Kallie Falandays at the Poetry Storehouse. (Nic has also made her own video for the poem.) I’m especially impressed by the bold choice of music. It shocked me at first, but I eventually came to feel that it provides just the right contrast for the dream-like imagery, throwing it and the voiceover into high relief. I can’t tell you how many videos I’ve chosen not to share here just because the music struck me as too stale or predictable.

Noble Savage Learns To Tweet by LeAnne Howe

A videopoem by Choctaw novelist and poet LeAnne Howe and director R. Vincent Moniz, Jr., with artwork and animation by Jonathan Thunder. Though it may seem tailor-made for the film, like Heid Erdrich’s “Pre-Occupied” the poem originally appeared in text form at 99 Poems for the 99%, where the author included these notes:

1. Dutch settlers built the ‘Wall path’ sometime around 1692 to keep out the Indians. In other words it was built for white settlers to keep out undesirables to protect developing commerce. According to Hermes-Press.com, the Wall path “joined the banks of the East River with those of the Hudson River on the west.” Wall path later named Wall Street. Hence the poem’s narrator, Noblesavage, tweets irony.

2. “Indian agent” is a double entendre and can be read as Noblesavage’s agent, authorized to act on his behalf for acting roles in Hollywood westerns; or as an individual authorized to interact with American Indians authorized on behalf of the federal government.

3. “Ford and Cameron” refer to Hollywood film directors John Ford and James Cameron.

4. #AI.com is a site for “artificial intelligence.” Another irony, Noblesavage is not real, a creation of Hollywood imagemakers.

Interiorismo by Hernán Talavera and Chema Araque

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First of all, let me make it clear that the director/producers of this film, Hernán Talavera and Chema Araque (A.K.A. Chema Arake) do not claim that it’s a poetry film; that’s my contention. Talavera, also credited as writer, has made films for his own poetry and for poems by Alfonsina Storni and Alejandra Pizarnik, all of which I’ve shared here, and Araque too has made videopoems. But this is a much more ambitious project, a nearly 12-minute portrait of a derelict palace in Spain. It has garnered numerous awards. The directors say:

The corpse of a palace in ruins turns into its own mausoleum.

Interiorism searchs for a Zen vision in which man is totally integrated into his surroundings. That is why Hernán Talavera and Chema Araque highlighted the most organic part of the building, and they watch as nature recovers its primitive space: the light, water, plants, birds, insects… break the barrier between what is natural and what is artificial, by invading a space built for people. Part of the entire process is much like a documentary. The directors walked around the palace many times totally open to any suggestions forthcoming from the place itself. The process took them three years.

What makes it a poetry film, in my estimation, is the inclusion of a text in the soundtrack, a medical diagnosis voiced by Luis Fernando Ríos—or rather, the evocative interplay between that very clinical text and the lyrical montage of images.

The Blockade by Ross Sutherland

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It’s time to check in on the progress of Ross Sutherland‘s “30 Videos/30 Poems” digital residency at The Poetry School. He’s uploaded 27 videos so far, and intends to finish by the end of this week. As promised, the videopoems in the series have been highly diverse, “exploring the different ways that the two mediums can shape and influence the other” in a wonderfully witty and experimental spirit—which means that even the ones that don’t wholly succeed are still instructive. I’d count this one as a success, a remix of a newscast from Irish television that offers one answer to the question: How the hell do you make a videopoem with a text describing another work of art? I’m not saying that’s quite what he’s done here, but that’s the pretense. The viewer is rewarded with a kind of double seeing, trying to picture the painting described by the museum-docent narrator while simultaneously re-evaluating the newscast in light of it.

To see Sutherland’s picks of his four favorite videos from the series so far, check out his April 29 blog post. He’s also archiving the videos on a Tumblr site.

Anither Season by Ross Wilson

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In the build-up to last weekend’s Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, sports pundits were talking about the decline of boxing, eclipsed (at least in the states) by MMA. But this filmpoem by Alastair Cook and poet Ross Wilson suggests that boxing is far from dead. The description at the Filmpoem website reads, in part:

Written and read by boxer and poet Ross Wilson, this is a heartfelt dedication to Alex ‘Spangles’ Hunter. Filmed and recorded in the Greenock Boxing Club, this film forms part of Alastair Cook’s work In Order to Win, You Must Expect to Win.

Alastair writes: “What began as a yearlong residency centred on the Scottish port town of Greenock has developed into a longer photographic investigation of this place and its people. One element of this is a series made with Greenock Boxing Club. Led by Danny Lee, who boxed at the 1960 Olympics with Muhammad Ali, and his inspirational son Danny Lee, the club is based in a Salvation Army church in Cartsdyke. Like much of post-industrial Britain, Cartsdyke is an area with difficult statistics on drugs, crime and mortality. With this work I want to tell the story of these boxers, the families who live here, struggle here, rejoice here.”

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