Wolf Moon by Erica Goss

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As featured in Atticus Review, this is the first of the 12 Moons videopoetry series, a collaboration between California-based poet (and videopoetry columnist) Erica Goss; filmmaker Marc Neys, A.K.A. Swoon; composer/cellist Kathy McTavish; and poetry reader extraordinaire Nic Sebastian. See Erica’s January column at Connotation Press for more on the project. She says, in part:

This artistic collaboration has been an exhilarating experience for me. Part of the fun was waiting to see what the others came up with. I knew I had to get the poems written and delivered, so I made writing them a top priority. As soon as one was finished, I sent it off, and waited to be delighted. Apart from emails, a few phone and Skype calls, we worked independently, each contributing our part.

Marc goes into a bit of detail about the making of this first film in the series at his blog:

I wanted to show only one image: a woman who has, one time, lost all but is still there and still very much a woman.
Let the viewer feel intrusive, like they’re watching a private ritual.
Kathy sent me several snippets of sounds and loops I could play with. Looking for a ominous soundscape to lay Nic’s reading in, I first created a track.

For the ending I wanted a contrast in sound and image.
I chose the view of someone walking on sharp and difficult stones without a clear path.

Particles by Michael e. Casteels

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A found-footage videopoem by Kevin Spenst for a text by Michael e. Casteels, which originally appeared in The Puritan (scroll down for a bio of the poet). Spenst is also a published poet, and told me that this was his first effort at a videopoem based on another poet’s work. See his YouTube channel for more of his poetry videos, and visit Puddles of Sky Press to browse chapbooks by Casteels and others.

Amor / Love by Idea Vilariño

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A beautiful but harrowing poetry film directed by the Madrid-based poet and filmmaker Eduardo Yagüe, interpreting a text from the 20th-century Uruguayan poet, critic and translator Idea Vilariño.

There’s also a version without the English subtitles.

(Hat-tip: London Poetry Systems.)

Karawane by Hugo Ball

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This may be the least poetic poetry video I’ve ever posted here, but I found it oddly compelling and hypnotic. It’s a translation of a Dadaist poem into binary code by Lucas Battich, who writes:

‘Karawane’ is a poem written and performed by Hugo Ball in 1916, and it consists of meaningless words and sounds. Ball was one of the founders of Dada, and the poem was first read in the newly opened Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich.
The sound on this version consists of a voiceover-software reading of the poem in its binary code form. This film shows what becomes of a poem, even one that is nonsensical, anarchic, when we put it through the technologies that we now take for granted.
Can you translate nonsense? For the poem to get online, it went through a few changes. It did become translated somehow. The actual poem became a surface with something behind, some thing added that it didn’t have before, and something that is still language and can be read. By software.

For Ball’s original text, see Poets.org, which includes a vigorous reading by Christian Bök.

Antiphonal: a “communal act of making” with twelve poets

An eight-minute filmpoem that still ends up seeming much too short. Digital artist Tom Schofield and filmmaker Kate Sweeney have created a truly masterful, immersive work that pays tribute to one of the glories of Medieval art. I’ll let Sweeney explain:

The Antiphonal project began as an original commission to 12 poets to write a poem inspired by the Lindisfarne Gospels. The poets involved are all based in the region and include: Gillian Allnutt, Linda Anderson, Peter Armstrong, Peter Bennet, Colette Bryce, Christy Ducker, Alistair Elliot, Cynthia Fuller, Linda France, Bill Herbert, Pippa Little and Sean O’Brien. The poems were then turned into a sound installation, entitled Antiphonal, by digital artist Tom Schofield, and sited in two iconic places: the newly renovated Lookout Tower on Lindisfarne and the crypt of St Aidan’s Church, Bamburgh.

Visual artist Kate Sweeney then produced two films in response to the sound installations. Using time lapse Kate sought to capture the colossal beauty of the landscape at Lindisfarne and how it changes through the course of a day. This is contrasted with the fragile detail captured in the Crypt at Bamburgh, where she imagines the breath of the past gently disturbing the cobwebs over the stones.

There’s more background on the website of the Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal.

This project was also part of a larger project, The Colme Cille Spiral, of which it formed one of six ‘knots’.


The project was a communal act of making, involving a group of poets and digital artists sharing inspiration on two journeys to Bamburgh and Lindisfarne, before they embarked on the commission. Eminent medievalist, Professor Clare Lees, King’s College London, was also involved in a conversation with the poets and artists, providing relevant texts, images and stories. The sound installation produced from the poems worked in a different way from the written page, enacting a dialogue between the poems, and demonstrating the emotive power of the human voice. The project reworked medieval themes and images, translating them and re-interpreting them for the present. It also placed poetry in new settings and involved different audiences. The crypt was more successful than the Tower, because of the number and noisiness of the visitors to the Tower. This was the first use of the crypt, which has been newly opened to the public, and the members of the church and community took ownership of the project, asking for there to be chairs so they could sit and listen over a period of time. The impact of the project continues in two further exhibitions, and a radio programme. The project is about listening and attention, and about hearing the echoes of the past in the present.

Danatum Passu by Shahid Akhtar

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A completely captivating film by Pakistani filmmaker Shehrbano Saiyid about a Hunza poet named Shahid Aktar, and how a particular poem of his has been received by his primary audience — his fellow villagers. The film documents its recording by Zoheb Veljee, who has spent five years recording music in remote locations around the world.

Be sure to click the CC icon for the English translation of the (sung) poem. It’s also available in text form in English (translated by Nosheen Ali), Urdu, and the original Wakhi at the new website Umang, which looks very promising indeed — a platform for “poetic thought in multiple languages as well as in multiple formats – including text, audio, video, and art,” initially from Pakistan and South Asia. (They also welcome submissions to their moderated forum.)

Do read the biography of the poet on the site.

“Dark and Unaccustomed Words”: three poems by Vahni Capildeo

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Trinidadian writer Vahni Capildeo, currently based in the U.K., recites three poems, interspersed with other remarks, in a very imaginatively shot performance-poetry film by Karen Martinez of Riposte Pictures. Here’s the description from Vimeo:

Over the course of a summer day in 2012, two Trinidadian artists, poet Vahni Capildeo and filmmaker Karen Martinez, set out, as co-conspirators, to have some fun and make a film, assisted by the fabulous Ava Martinez Lambert. They wandered through the environs of northwest London and this four-minute film is what they have to show.

‘The Pale Beast’ is taken from Dark & Unaccustomed Words (Egg Box, 2012). The ‘Person Animal Figure’ dramatic monologue series is included in Undraining Sea (Egg Box, 2009). ‘Calling Time’ will appear in Utter (Peepal Tree, 2013).
To find out more about Vahni, visit: almostisland.com/monsoon_2010/vahni_capildeo_1.php

For more on Karen Martinez, check out this interview in ARC magazine: “‘The most magical thing’: Karen Martinez on Film and Filmmaking.”