Spell Against Impermanence by Kim Addonizio

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Cheryl Gross’ inimitable animations accompany Kim Addonizio’s reading.

被移動的嗎?/ Was Being Moved? by Ye Mimi

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This author-made videopoem by the Taiwanese poet and filmmaker Ye Mimi was recently featured at Cordite. Her comments there about her creative process are especially interesting:

I was first introduced to the term ‘poetry film’ at the Zebra Poetry Film Festival in Taipei. As a poet, I knew right away that was the kind of video work I would like to do. In 2007, I went to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to study filmmaking and to continue experimenting with the relationship between poetry and film. To me, making a poetry film is like weaving. It doesn’t prevent me from being a poet. Instead, my poems grow with my films simultaneously. I always write something first before I go out to collect images, but everything is still unclear and improvised when I am shooting. During the editing stage, I like to collage the images. Afterwards, I always write something based on the images and then collage the images more. In other words, my images and text feed each other rather than feed on each other.

She goes on to talk about the specific ways this process played out here, and about the Taiwanese Daoist pilgrimage shownd in the film — do go read it. She concludes:

If someone asks me what my creative process looks like, I would say, ‘It’s like directing a group of electric jellyfish sneaking into a tilt tower to rub together. They could become a sunny day, a fever, a humming song, or a glass of Bloody Mary, which … I never know.’

At Ruby’s diner by Sherry O’Keefe

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Montana-based poet Sherry O’Keefe has long been one of my favorite bloggers, so I was chuffed to see this video adaptation by Nic Sebastian of one of O’Keefe’s poems in The Poetry Storehouse. She used landscape imagery and a soundtrack from a freesound.org user (Eric Hopton) to very good effect, I thought.

(If) Grief (were) Briefly (to) Disappear by Stevie Ronnie

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This new collaboration between filmmaker Marc Neys (Swoon) and poet Stevie Ronnie is the result of a unique writing contest at Awkword Paper Cut, which challenged submitters to write a new poem (or re-purpose an old one) in response to footage that Neys provided. Ronnie’s winning poem was one of seven finalists chosen by a distinguished panel of seven judges. The contest results page includes some process notes from Neys:

Footage: The woman in the video is my mother, holding a bust made by my sister of my dead father. Originally, the footage was shot for a video about ‘Roots’ (Heimat). I had made shots of my mother in places that were significant in my youth – our old driveway, my favorite forest, the place I secretly smoked my first cigarette, my first school, etc.

Soundscape: It’s a re-edit of a scape I made inspired after reading James Salter’s All That Is, about an older man looking back on his life and (lost) loves.

There’s also a full-length interview with the poet. Here’s a snippet:

The words were written in direct response to Swoon’s video. I watched it several times without writing anything down at all and then lines began to appear. The poem went through several iterations before falling into its final form. My approach is such that I tend to write without putting too much thought into the intended result but it did feel important to start with the video. I was also conscious of the need to avoid being overly descriptive; to leave some slack between the video and the text for the viewer’s imagination to slip into. I can see the advantages of starting with the images and soundtrack and I’d be keen to work in this way again. I think starting with the video forces me to let go of some of the control that I would usually have when writing a poem. Because I could sense the emotional weight that the video would bring to the final piece I was layering onto that as opposed to inventing the entire world of the poem with my words alone.

Congratulations to Stevie Ronnie, to the other finalists — and to Awkword Paper Cut for a successful and well-executed outcome to this innovative contest.

شتوي Shatwi/Shitwi (Wintry) by Youssef Rakha

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Mariam Ferjani’s “Screen adaptation/reinterpretation of the short poem by Youssef Rakha,” an Egyptian writer and photographer. The description on Vimeo includes a translation, which I’m guessing is by the author:

Woman wants eternity
Man wants heaven
And sometimes, not often
In the meeting of their desires
They become a cloud
And sometimes, even less often
They actually die
Before it rains
So that the world stays dry
And everything is alright

Barbie Doll by Marge Piercy

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A lot of student work shows up on Vimeo this time of year, and I’m guessing that’s what this is, though you wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell from the quality, which is very high indeed. Marge Piercy’s biting poem is dished out one line at a time in this videopoem by Leah Witton, who notes:

This is my final cut of the words in motion piece. The piece is based on the poem Barbie Doll by Marge Piercy and the style was inspired from Vito Acconci.

Address to the Amsterdam ReVersed Poetry Film Festival Symposium by Tom Konyves

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As the founding father of videopoetry, Tom Konyves is often asked to present at conferences and symposiums, but the ReVersed Poetry Film Festival in Amsterdam last month was the first to ask him to do so with reference to his own life and works. The film that he and Alex Konyves put together in response blends theory with reminiscences of some fascinating moments in avant-garde history, and includes a number of excerpts from Tom’s videopoems, some not otherwise available on the web — which is why I decided to share this here on the main site. Tom also provided the text of his talk at my request, which we’ve posted over at the forum (with added links to the full-length versions of a few of the referenced videopoems).

My favorite part is the bit about the role of chance, illustrated by a videopoem composed using the I Ching. Echoing Louis Pasteur (“Chance favors only the prepared mind”), Konyves says:

One has to be open and prepared for chance events to occur. On a perfect summer day, I decided to bring my equipment to nearby St. Helen’s Island. I found a spot to set up and began searching for an image that in retrospect I would call having a collaborative property, or at least collaborative potential. After about an hour of shooting windsurfers, I found three sailboats floating on the water. It was like a picture postcard. Suddenly I realized that behind the sailboats and a land mass there was a large ship moving across the screen.

“Collaborative potential”: yes. The world can be like that sometimes.

Anyway, the talk is full of such stories and insights. Enjoy.