(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.

Черный человек / The Black Man by Sergei Yesenin

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Sergei Yesenin‘s poem stunningly translated into film by director Alexander Fedorov (who also contributed the voiceover, soundtrack, and some of the animation), with additional animation by Nikolay Vologdin and videography by Mikhail Kazantsev and Artur Zaynullin. There’s also a version without the English subtitles.

Bees in the Eaves by Bill Yarrow

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Bill Yarrow’s poem “Bees in the Eaves” has had many lives. It originally appeared in Mad Hatters’ Review along with audio of the author’s reading, was reprinted in his collection Pointed Sentences (BlazeVOX 2012), and was reprinted again at The Poetry Storehouse, where it garnered a reading by Nic Sebastian and this video remix by Marc Neys, A.K.A. Swoon. Coming back full-circle to the mad hatters, perhaps, the video uses footage from the 1940 documentary Symptoms Of Schizophrenia, via the Prelinger Archives. Marc notes:

There was a track ‘Tsukuru Swims‘ I had just finished that was right for Nic Sebastian’s reading of the poem.
It took a bit of re-editing but the combination worked beautifully […]

The lines ‘There’s a remedy for everything. And a remedy for every remedy.’ made me think of a short and uncomfortable docu I saw on Prelinger last year.

I took out the footage I thought was disturbing and confronting and edited it to the rhythm and the noises in the soundtrack. I layered the result with moving lights, shot from a train, to give it an extra edge and some depth.

Read the rest.

Bill Yarrow spoke of his experience with Poetry Storehouse remixes in an interview at the Moving Poems forum back in March (prior to the release of this video).

Boy in a field by Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick

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I could watch this again and again. Nic Sebastian makes great use of artwork by Michael Vincent Manalo in this kinestatic video remix of a poem from The Poetry Storehouse by Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick.