Sundowning by Matt Mullins

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A collaboration between Marc Neys and Matt Mullins, who writes:

Alzheimer’s/Dementia includes a phase called sundowning during which the afflicted cannot shake the sense that there is somewhere else they must be, regardless of where they are. This includes the need to go “home” even if one is already home. The videopoem comments on this condition even as it comments on how Alzheimer’s/Dementia takes the sufferer “away” from loved ones while that loved one is still in their presence.

Editing original footage/Music: Swoon (Marc Neys)

Direction/Poem/Recitation/Audio-Visual Composition: Matt Mullins

Detrás de los fragmentos / After Fragments by Diana Bellessi

An English-subtitled reading by the Argentinian poet Diana Bellessi, part of a larger documentary about her. The translation’s really good and the language and landscape are both mesmerizing, I thought. Here’s the YouTube description:

Diana Bellessi reads the poem “After the fragment”, about the history of her family, originally from Italy. As she reads, the sun sets over the land they worked.
This is video is part of the documentary “Secret Garden” (www.secretgardendocumentary.wordpress.c­om).

Directed by Cristián Costantini, Diego Panich and Claudia Prado
Camera: Leandro Listorti/Diego Panich
Poem translation: Cathy Eisenhower

Diana Bellessi lee el poema “Detrás de los fragmentos”, sobe la historia de su familia, descendientes de italianos en la pampa santafesina. Mientras ella lee, el sol se pone en la tierra que trabajaron sus parientes.
Este video es parte del documental “El jardín secreto” (www.eljardinsecretoblog.wordpress.com).

In the Circus of You (four poems) by Nicelle Davis

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Cheryl Gross’ animated films for poems by Nicelle Davis are the focus of this month’s Swoon’s View column by Marc Neys at Awkword Paper Cut. I realized I’d never shared In the Circus of You, so this seemed a good opportunity to do so. Neys writes:

You want to take your time with these. The poetry is clear and Nicelle’s voice works smoothly with the music. At first I thought these were too literal, yet I couldn’t stop watching them over and over again. Cheryl’s illustrations are just stunning and they allow the audience to comprehend and recognize the significance of the words. But it’s the way she weaves drawing after drawing combined with typography around the soundtrack that reels you in. You feel surrounded by the images, overwhelmed by each pen stroke. The drawings appear to be simple, but are alive and full of detail.

In the Circus of You serves a dual purpose as a poetry film and a trailer for a poetry collection of the same name, with animations of four of its poems: “Down the Trapeze of Bird Bones,” “The Clown in My Gut,” “I Know How to Bark,” and “Entering the Big Top of the Self Requires Help.” According to a page at the author’s website,

In the Circus of You morphs cultural clichés into living language again. This collection deals with themes of sanity, motherhood, monogamy, creative impulse, appropriation, and self-creation to create a sideshow of abnormalities that define what it is to be human. Poet Nicelle Davis and illustrator Cheryl Gross create a grotesque peep-show that opens the velvet curtains on the beautiful complications of life. The poems and images in this collection create a novel in verse where dead pigeons talk, clowns hide it the chambers of the heart, and the human body turns itself inside out to born again as a purely sensory creature.

This circus will be brought to you by the good people at Rose Metal Press in Spring of 2014.

Worm Moon by Erica Goss

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This is Part III of 12 Moons, the collaborative videopoetry project from Erica Goss (text), Nic Sebastian (voice), Kathy McTavish (music) and Marc Neys, A.K.A. Swoon (music, concept, camera, and direction) for Atticus Review:

12 Moons is an artwork combining poetry, voice, music and video. Twelve poems written by Erica Goss form the narrative. The poems move through a year of full moons, reflecting the hidden influence of the moon on one person’s life. Kathy McTavish’s original music adds complexity to Nic Sebastian’s intense and compelling narration, framed by Swoon’s precise editing of sound and image, which creates a miniature universe for each poem within the context of the project.

Marc writes:

It’s a fun, yet slightly mysterious poem. I wanted simple footage, bright colours and ‘wormlike’ movement and I found some (shadows shot while hiking).
Just as with the first 2, I wanted the ending to turn away from the visual storyline.

Fun news about the project; Erica Goss and I will present the whole project (all 12) during an artist talk at the Zebra Poetry Film Festival in Berlin later this year.

Bernard and Cerinthe by Linda France

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This is the third of the three films from Filmpoem for winners of last year’s National Poetry Competition in the U.K.

Bernard and Cerinthe is a film by Alastair Cook for Linda France’s first placed poem in the National Poetry Competition 2013, commissioned by Filmpoem and Felix Poetry Festival in association with the Poetry Society.

From the National Poetry Competition judges: ‘This strange narrative of a man being seduced by a plant charmed the judges with its vivid imagery and linguistic wit. Its precisely honed couplets move from elegant description (‘the bruise of bracts, petals, purple // shrimps’) to a tragicomic climax, in which our hero finds himself ‘a buffoon in front of a saloon honey / high-kicking the can-can. Can’t-can’t’. Truly imaginative and richly musical, ‘Bernard and Cerinthe’ is as much a pleasure to read on the page as it is on the tongue, and as such was the unanimous choice of the judges for first place in this year’s National Poetry Competition.’ {Jane Yeh}

Linda France is from the northeast of England, and has published seven collections of poetry. See the story in the Guardian, “Linda France wins National Poetry Competition with erotic botany story,” as well as the page at the Poetry Society website, which includes the text of the poem and this bit of back-story:

On what inspired the poem, Linda said: ‘I remember very particularly the day I wrote this poem, actually. I went to visit a friend of mine who has the most beautiful garden. It was the end of August and there was a plant I’d never seen before: Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’, and I was just astonished by it. It’s a very intense blue and the leaves are a silvery green… they’re quite thick, almost waxy, fleshy. That’s one of the things I’m drawn to about plants, they express this tremendous “Otherness”, but they just stay there and let you respond to them, unlike a bird or animal that disappears. A plant remains for you to give your attention to. I love that. I got absorbed in this flower and my sense was that it was very sexy, as many of them are. Cerinthe conceals and reveals at the same time, it has a flirtatiousness about it that’s very seductive. I don’t know how Bernard came into the story, but faced with this out-and-out flirt of a plant, he doesn’t know what to do. So that’s how it happened, really. Obviously it didn’t all come fully formed, but it arose from looking at the flower.’

Among Barmaids by Paula Bohince

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American poet Paula Bohince took second prize in the 2013 National Poetry Competition from the U.K.’s Poetry Society with “Among Barmaids,” interpreted elegantly by filmmaker Idil Sukan in a commission by Filmpoem and Felix Poetry Festival.

From the National Poetry Competition judges: ‘There was a metal door that took both hands/ of a strong man to open’ – so begins this taut, impressive poem, going on to say that the barmaids did this daily, then ruled benignly the enclosed world ‘sealed in submarine darkness’ behind the door. With remarkable economy, the poem manages to construct an extremely detailed picture of the rituals of the bar-room, the lives of the barmaids – whose tattooed skin bears the history of ex-lovers and drugged-out children – and the lives of the drinkers ‘who wore their trade on their fingers – coal or dirt or grease’, and who played songs on the jukebox about cheating women. The voice of the poem speaks in the first person plural, like a Greek chorus. Perhaps this is what lends the poem its power – the directness of the choral tone, the precision of the detail, the staccato delivery. The choral voice delivers an incantation of great warmth in a cold place. This is brought home in the final image of the children brought to the bar by the men, when their wives needed peace, to be spun on a make-believe dance-floor by the ministering barmaids, trying to turn ‘despair into a party’. {Matthew Sweeney}

For the text of the poem, see the Poetry Society website.

Love on a Night Like This by Josephine Abbott

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A Kate Sweeney film, commissioned by Filmpoem and the Felix Poetry Festival in association with the Poetry Society. This is one of three films for the winners of the Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition 2013.

From the National Poetry Competition judges: ‘This poem, built on motion, powerfully presents the balancing act of loving another human being. It depicts both the simplicity and enormity of that act, and our powerlessness in the face it, reduced as we are to “sea-birds in the teeth of a gale.” We loved the atmosphere and detail – that plastic pot skittering on a path, birds “made helpless as plastic bags”… This is a poem in which the personal and universal, the minute and the enormous, do more than co-exist: they are one and the same thing.’ {Julia Copus}

For a bio of Josephine Abbott and the text of the poem, see the Poetry Society website.

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