Poem by Anne Carson, from Possessive Used as Drink (Me), a lecture on pronouns in the form of 15 sonnets
Video by Sadie Wilcox
Dancers: Julie Cunningham, Rashaun Mitchell, Andrea Weber
I had to compose a lecture on pronouns for a conference at Harvard and this was the result. I wrote a sonnet sequence, which Stephanie Rowden recorded and made interesting. Then three Merce Cunningham dancers improvised choreography in response to the sonnets. Sadie Wilcox videotaped everything they did and edited it to fit (or not) the sound score.
Carson has generously uploaded six excerpts from the 25-minute performance to YouTube. I’ll probably link all of them eventually, but in the meantime they can be accessed via playgallery.org.
The video credits say “created by: Jackie, Jaclyn, Mat” — no doubt without the knowledge or approval of the poet. I hope they don’t get a takedown notice from Glück’s publisher, because I think this really expands upon the message of the poem, as the best video poems seem to do. Some intelligibility is of course sacrificed with this spliced-recitation technique, but I think it’s worth it.
Poem by Agha Shahid Ali (reading by Carl Hancock Rux) — text here
Animation by Kyle Jenkins for the Poetry Foundations’ Poetry Everywhere series
A posthumous volume of Ali’s collected poems, The Veiled Suite, has just been released. He was a master who died much too young. As for the video, I’m not sure it adds anything to the poem or not.
Patricia Smith is the reigning queen of slam, with four National Poetry Slam individual championship titles under her belt, and she’s a very fine poet on the page as well — her most recent book, Blood Dazzler, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award. So who better to kick off the spoken word category here? And with the inclusion of the Jeff Robinson Trio, this performance takes us back to the 1950s jazz-club roots of the modern American poetry reading tradition. My only gripe with this video is that it doesn’t supply the title of the poem.
For more on the Lizard Lounge Poetry Jam and the Jeff Robinson Trio, see their website. They’re in Cambridge, Massachusetts, apparently, and they do this every Sunday. For more videos, see their YouTube channel.
Poem by Juan Ramón Jiménez (Estío, 11)
Here’s the poem, which I think should be in the public domain by now, together with my translation (feel free to offer corrections in the comments).
|Yo no sé cómo saltar
desde la orilla de hoy
a la orilla de mañana.
El río se lleva, mientras,
Miro al oriente, al poniente,
…Y no sé como saltar
|I don’t know how to leap
from the brink of today
to the brink of tomorrow.
Meanwhile the current bears
Look to the east, the west,
…And I don’t know how to leap
I imagine Jiménez is rolling at his grave at the video’s use of the soundtrack from The Matrix — he was pretty uptight, I hear — but it works for me.
I’ve been reading Mairead Byrne’s cryptic, quirky blog Heaven for some three years now, so I was excited to come across this gem of an interview on YouTube — perhaps the most perfect interview with a poet ever captured on video. The title, “The Poet’s View,” appears to be a reference to a DVD of the same name produced by the Academy of American Poets, which includes portraits of John Ashbery, Louise Glück, Anthony Hecht, Kay Ryan, and W. S. Merwin.
The video appears on Byrne’s own YouTube channel. The interviewer isn’t credited.
Poem and reading by Sylvia Plath — text here
Video by mishima1970
Another video with the same poem, this time by Jim Clark, who makes
Virtual Animated movies of great poets reincarnated through the wonders of computer animation reading their best loved poems and presented in the style of old scratchy movies.