Song for Koko by Tommy Becker

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

A poetic music video or a musical videopoem? Tommy Becker‘s videos for his Tape Number One project are hard to categorize, which is why I haven’t featured them here as often as I should. They blend “the artist’s poetics, songwriting, performance, costuming with found footage and computer design,” according to the statement on his website.

“Song for Koko” is from 2015. The accompanying text on Vimeo reads:

An elephant escapes from the circus and begins a rampage down a city street. His trunk tosses aside everything in his path. We cheer for him. Why? A man sits on an alligator and attempts to tie his mouth shut. The alligator contorts his body, throwing the man off before turning to bite. We are unsympathetic. Why? We take our children to the zoo to look at the monkeys. The children complain about their inactivity and we feel a sense of betrayal as we admit to ourselves that our observations are a fraud. What’s important in these situations of conflict and captivity is that we are seeing animals as equals. They are no longer the lesser species. A life force is being held against its will or once again running wild through the streets. The moment the lion lunges at the tamer we understand his motives. We relate viscerally to his oppression as we connect to the soul of its being.

Rapunzel Brings Her Women’s Studies Class to the Tower by Susan J. Erickson

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

Bellingham, Washington-based poet Susan J. Erickson reads a poem from her 2016 collection Lauren Bacall Shares a Limousine in this film by poet and editor Ellie A. Rogers. The soundtrack is by Louis McLaughlin.

Rogers has just blogged about making the film:

Susan J. Erickson has red cowboy boots and impeccable diction. She’s a poet hero of mine who I met back in the land of Douglas fir, though we’re both ladies of the 10,000 lakes.

Sue won the Brick Road Poetry Press prize last year, and her book, Lauren Bacall Shares a Limousine, is out now. Her collection of lady persona poems is tonally diverse, smart, and powerful.

Sue asked me to make a book trailer for her. We chose to work with her poem “Rapunzel Brings Her Women’s Studies Class to the Tower” partially because I now live near a giant bell tower and tracts of forest, but mostly because this poem is a linchpin poem. Rapunzel is trying to “relinquish the rib of victimhood.” She pushes back against the story we tell about her. She tells her class “your voices are searchlights that can sweep the horizon to reveal fault lines and illuminate passage.” What a good lesson.

Âne Dormant / Donkey Sleeping by Jacques Prévert

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

A charming animation made for French television in 2014 by Caroline Lefèvre. (There’s also a version without subtitles.) It’s one of thirteen shorts made by different directors for the collection “En Sortant de L’École,” a televised tribute to Prévert. For more on the making of Âne Dormant, see the blog.

Archipelago by Conceição Lima

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

Moving Poems’ first poet from São Tomé and Príncipe, Conceição Lima, is featured in this ultra-short but effective video by David Shook filmed in São Tomé earlier this month. The poem is from her second collection, A Dolorosa Raiz de Micondó, and if its brevity left you hungry for more, check out the four additional poems Shook translated for World Literature Today. There are also three of Lima’s poems in translation by Amanda Hopkinson at Words Without Borders.

Now is the Time by Lucy English

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

From the filmmaking duo Katia Viscogliosi and Francis Magnenot, AKA Cinéma Fragile, a new addition to UK writer and poetry-film expert Lucy English‘s Book of Hours project. The voiceover (by Viscogliosi, I’m guessing) is very effective, but her accent may present occasional difficulties for some listeners, so they’ve helpfully supplied subtitles — click the CC icon.

Moments That Breathe by Meghan McDonald

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

An author-made video from 2015 by Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Meghan McDonald, who evidently stumbled upon the idea of videopoetry herself, judging by what she wrote on YouTube:

This little tidbit is an idea I’ve been crafting for a while. It is intended to literally bring an imagery aspect to poetry (like a music video, but with poetry). I also wanted to incorporate beautiful moments that take place every day that may be overlooked.

Last year she uploaded six more videos to her Poetry Videos playlist, in addition to going busking across the U.S. Definitely someone to keep an eye on.

Bayside Reporter by Ian Gibbins

Poet: | Nationality: | Filmmaker:

Australian videopoet Ian Gibbins is a retired neuroscientist with three books of poetry under his belt and a penchant for experimental video and electronic music. His Vimeo description for Bayside Reporter reads:

Suspicions of criminal activity along the beachfront… Filmed between St Kilda and Port Melbourne, Victoria. Sounds were recorded beside the Yarra River, on trams between the City and Middle Park, and along the beachfront itself. A version of “Bayside Reporter” was published in Australian Poetry Members Anthology 3, Digital Edition, 2014. Here is the link.