Known Unto God by Bill Manhire

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British animator Suzie Hannah teamed up with New Zealand’s poet laureate Bill Manhire for this poetry film, part of the Fierce Light series co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW, Norfolk and Norwich Festival and Writers Centre Norwich. It was “Voiced by Stella Duffy, with Sound Design by Phil Archer,” says the description on Hannah’s website, which continues:

Mud and and pigment animation interpreting Bill Manhire’s poem about tragic death of youths in WW1, comprised of 14 short epitaphs for unknown NZ soldiers killed at the Somme, and for unnamed refugees drowning as they flee from wars now, 100 years later.

The film has been selected for screening at the following: 14th London Short Film Festival 2017, Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2016, O Bhéal Poetry Film Festival 2016, Zebra Poetry Film Festival 2016, Interfilm 32nd International Short Film Festival Berlin 2016

“Known Unto God writes the epitaphs to the lost of our world: those fallen soldiers of the Somme whose bodies were never found; those refugees of today who drown seeking a better life for themselves and their families. Bill Manhire and Suzie Hanna have created a bold and powerful memorial to the voiceless, and a reminder that WW1 was a conflict that shook the entire world, and that our lives have grown ever more interconnected since. ” Sam Ruddock, Writers Centre Norwich

Od’e Miikan / Heart Line (Moose version) by Heid E. Erdrich

The latest videopoem collaboration between Heid E. Erdrich (poetry, voiceover), Jonathan Thunder (animation), and Trevino Brings Plenty (music)

arose out of Erdrich’s vision and understanding of Ojibwe/Anishinaabe star knowledge as told to her by elders and in the Ojibwe Star Map.nativeskywatchers.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/NSW_OjibweNorth.pdf
In Ojibwe cosmology, the figure seen hunting corresponds to the constellation known to others as Scorpio. Mooz corresponds to the constellation known to others as Pegasus. The Wolf Trail or Ma’iingn Miikan is the motion of the stars across the year, also known as the ecliptic.

This poemo exists in two forms, one with Heid’s voice auto tuned to wolf sounds and one with Heid’s voice auto tuned to moose sounds. You can here composer Trevino Brings Plenty talking about the process here: youtube.com/watch?v=mwIo5THOPNA

This poem film was created to align with the large, interactive animated creatures Wolf and Moose, the Creative City Challenge 2016 Winner that was directed by artist Christopher Lutter with collaborative partners Heid E. Erdrich, Kim Ford, Karl Stroerzinger, Coal Dorius, and Missy Adzick.

Gloed / Glow by Bart Moeyaert

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A text by the Flemish poet Bart Moeyaert in a filmpoem by Dutch photographer and filmmaker Judith Dekker. Commissioned by the library of Genk, Belgium, it was screened at this year’s ZEBRA festival as part of their focus on Dutch and Flemish poetry films. Moeyart supplies the reading used in the soundtrack, and the English translation in titling (also included in the description at Vimeo) is by Astrid Alben.

What Leslie Meant to Say by Cindy St. Onge

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A brief, author-made videopoem by Cindy St. Onge, responding to a voicemail which she’s included at the beginning of the video. This is the the sort of simple, straight-forward video remix that, to my mind, any working poet these days should learn how to make as a matter of course, because sometimes a poem needs to be more than just words on a page. As St. Onge noted on Vimeo:

The video, not the poem, is my response to the much-too-chipper voicemail notifying me that my best friend’s ashes are ready to retrieve. The title gave me the idea for the video, so I changed the first person confessional poem to second person, and achieved a bit of satisfaction.

Wake Up by Tolu Agbelusi

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A poetry-film collaboration between London-based Nigerian poet Tolu Agbelusi and director HKB FiNN of JustJazz Visuals. Somehow the poem’s story of an interpersonal cycle of abuse seems appropriate to the political moment.

Check out a couple of additional films on the Video & Audio section of Agbelusi’s website.

What is Love? by Lucy English

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This latest addition to Lucy English’s Book of Hours poetry-film project was directed by Lori H. Ersolmaz, with English reading her poem in the soundtrack.

Off the Trail: poetry by Michael McClure and Gary Snyder

This film, a selection from the longer experimental documentary Headlands Lookout by Jacob Cartwright and Nick Jordan, was awarded the prize for Best Poetry Film at this year’s ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival “For a pre-apocalyptic journey [with] a perfect guide in a stitched uniform into a world that’s going to unravel itself.” Here’s how Jordan describes it on his website:

Walk the path, sit the rains, grind the ink, wet the brush, unroll the broad white space….Lead out and tip the moist, black line.

Gary Snyder’s invocation to the muse of a Chinese scroll painter sets the tone in a short film adapted from Cartwright and Jordan’s longer work, Headlands Lookout.

Filmed in former US military barracks, and in the long-abandoned homes and circular library of Gary Snyder and Zen philosopher Alan Watts, Off the Trail follows a central protagonist, a soldier from another era, as he performs a series of actions and rituals. The uniformed figure paints Chinese nature symbols, chants, meditates and wanders dreamlike through a rolling Californian landscape of fog-shrouded hills, coastal defences and dense woodland valleys. Scenes are accompanied by haiku and poetry readings from Michael McClure and Gary Snyder, and the disembodied voice of Alan Watts, ruminating upon the passage of time and our perception of the ‘wild’.

As someone who studied Japanese and Chinese literature at university, there were parts of this that made me wince — the inept brush calligraphy, for example, and occasionally simplistic or misleading characterizations of Daoist and Buddhist thought — but I do recognize the historical importance of mid-20th-century writers such as Watts and Snyder in bringing East Asian thinking to a Western audience, however colored by Orientalism their versions of it may have been. And there’s no denying the beautiful cinematography and intriguing almost-narrative here, not to mention the innate fascination of the ruins where it was shot.