Foresight by Roche “Roach” Du Plessis

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A well-produced performance poetry video from Emote Record Company, “a record label dedicated entirely to the recording, distribution, promotion, and support of spoken word artists and the spoken word community.” Du Plessis is one of several artists recorded in what appears to be someone’s living room in Johannesburg. (View more at Emote’s YouTube channel.)

Scoring and Additional Recording by Paul Elliott
Edited, Mixed and Mastered by Simon Strehler
Videographers: Ett Venter, Bernard Brand

Special Thanks to Clive Thomson and the Thomson family, the greatest hosts on Earth.

It’s no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of spoken word and slam-style poetry. But the outrageous rhymes on “Orwell” sold me on this one. Plus I applaud the emphasis on audio and video production. Emote’s website, spokenwordcollective.com, was just launched last month, so they’re obviously just getting off the ground. I hope they go far.

Brother carried the poppies by Theresa Senato Edwards

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A Nic Sebastian remix of a poem in the Poetry Storehouse by Theresa Senato Edwards. Sebastian re-purposed some stock footage to gorgeous and disturbing effect, and the music she chose really carries the film. Here are her process notes:

For this haunting poem on abuse by Theresa Senato Edwards, I used both film and still image elements – first time I have combined the two.

For the backdrop of the bleak disastrous relationship, I used darkened stock footage of what was originally a relatively cheerful sunshiney scene of an abandoned house in a field. Once darkened, it looked lonely and empty – a context in which forbidden activity could easily take place unchecked. To begin, end and punctuate the piece, I slowed down and darkened stock footage of a summer lightning storm to represent the abuser.

For the victim, I used a stock still image from StockVault which suggested muffling and suffocation to me. I used the image as a fade-in at three different places in the film, each time adding a different Ken Burns effect to it – panning away, towards, across. The hollow ‘alien drone’ soundtrack was by Speedenza, one of my freesound.org favorites.

Many thanks once more to Theresa for sharing this powerful piece at the Poetry Storehouse.

Sebastian’s chronicle of her education as a videopoem-maker is really turning into a valuable resource for others who want to learn the craft. I advise either following her blog on WordPress.com, as I do, or else subscribing to the Videopoems category link in an RSS feed reader.

There are a lot of yous in this poem and one of them is you by John Mortara

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An author-made videopoem by John Mortara for a special, all-video edition of Shabby Doll House. Don’t let the hand-held shakiness fool you — this is a well-edited video with a number of imaginative juxtapositions of text and image. I was also impressed that the voiceover remained fully intelligible despite the relative loudness of the music (which is by Garrett Kemp).

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.

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