when by Ottar Ormstad

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Experimental poetry can sometimes seem excessively cerebral and lacking in emotion, but Norwegian visual poet Ottar Ormstad escapes that trap here with the help of terrific still images and a compelling score. The description from Ormstad’s upload to Vimeo is worth quoting at length:

In the film “when” Ottar Ormstad is transferring his practice as concrete poet to the realm of a programmable networked space, blending his poetry with specially composed modern music and electronic elements. His photographs are presented in combination with words in different languages, most of them presented as “letter-carpets”. Some sentences are from well known songs or films, other letter-combinations are invented by the author.

The film is telling a story about life and death, basically from the standpoint of cars, rotten in a field in Sweden. The narrative is open, and each viewer may experience the film very differently. It is also dependent upon the viewer’s language background, any translation is – intentionally – not given.
This experimental film cannot be translated in a traditional way. The words in different languages are integrated in the poetic expression. Subtitles are irrelevant.

The music and the animation was created in close cooperation with the author.
Music: Hagen & Nilsen from Xploding Plastix
Animation: Ina Pillat
Script, photographs, visual poetry by director & producer: Ottar Ormstad

Imprinted by Neil Flatman

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I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for single-shot videopoems. The text (by Neil Flatman, from The Poetry Storehouse) could so easily have elicited something melodramatic. The above remix is by Charles Musser, with music by Youngest Daughter. Nic Sebastian also did a remix of the poem:

Still fairly low-key. I like the use of text-on-screen. The soundtrack is more subdued, with a jazz piano ballad by Fabric.

Not Talking by Chris Woods

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Concept, camera, direction and editing are all credited to Christopher Hughes (Shining Tor Productions), though I can’t help thinking the content of the film might have been influenced by the title of the book in which the poem originally appeared: Dangerous Driving by Chris Woods (Comma Press, 2007). Regardless, it’s a good example of how a narrative approach to filmmaking can work with a lyric poem.

Not Talking was “Made in partnership with Bokeh Yeah and Comma Press”; Bokeh Yeah is kind of the successor to the earlier Comma Film project, as I understand it. One way or another, at least four films have now been made based on poems from Dangerous Driving, each by a different director. Manchester would seem to have a very active poetry-film community indeed.

Christopher Hughes blogged a bit about how he came to make this film:

It seems like an age since Adele Myers approached me to come along to her group, Bokeh Yeah, and join in their poetry film challenge. Even though I agreed, I was initially quite dismissive of poetry films as they didn’t appear to worry about the things I worried about with narrative short films. Things like continuity, dialogue, plot, character, etc. They could shoot any abstract images they wanted and juxtapose them in any way that took their fancy under the general heading of ‘artistic interpretation’. It all seemed a bit too easy to me – or at least, that’s what I thought.

Anyway, I’d said I’d do it so I chose a poem that I liked and came up with a concept that gave me a chance to reference my beloved spaghetti westerns and away we went. I won’t go into more detail about the film, just watch it for yourselves, except to say, that I’m quite happy with it.

To / For by Luisa A. Igloria

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A text-on-screen-style videopoem by Swoon (Marc Neys) with a text from Night Willow, a 2014 collection of prose poems by Luisa A. Igloria. Back in September, Marc blogged some process notes about the video, calling it “The latest experiment in my series of videos where I re-think the relationship of image, sound, and text”.

Combining lines from the poem with the suitable footage, trying out different fonts and sizes for the text on screen, placement of words… It’s a puzzling way of editing.
I’m not only editing film anymore, I’m carefully trying to blend sound, image and text in one cut. It feels more like composing. It makes me rethink the way I worked (and still work) with audible videopoems.

These ‘film Compositions’ are meant to be played full screen and loud!

Marc talked about this style of editing in a brief interview I filmed for Moving Poems, Swoon on finding a new angle in videopoetry composition.

And God… by Eric Blanchard

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Australian filmmaker Marie Craven demonstrates one way to get away with out-right illustration in a videopoem. Had she used footage of pinball games in a poem that references pinball, it would’ve seemed merely redundant, I think. But instead she hit upon the idea of using colorful still images (by Donald Bell) alternating with dark, silent-film-like title cards bearing the lines of the poem. Cut these images in time with up-tempo, pinball-esque music by CIRC, and rather than simply depicting a game of pinball, the video actually enacts or reproduces the effect of a highly kinetic ball careening around in an inert cabinet. “The whole thing / goes tilt.” And the poem is raised to a new level, I think.

The text by Eric Blanchard, first published in Pudding Magazine, was sourced from The Poetry Storehouse.

Mule & Pear: two videopoems by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

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Rachel Eliza Griffiths has made poetry book trailer-style videopoems for a couple of other poets, but this one from 2011 was for her own collection, and Roxane Gay, writing at HTML Giant, was impressed:

Mule & Pear is a new book of poetry by Rachel Eliza Griffiths and has a book trailer I really love which is saying something because I do not care for book trailers.

This Dust Road: Self Portrait is an excerpt from the final poem in Mule & Pear. According to the publisher’s description,

These poems speak to us with voices borrowed from the pages of novels of Alice Walker, Jean Toomer, and Toni Morrison—voices that still have more to say, things to discuss. Each struggles beneath a yoke of dreaming, loving, and suffering. These characters converse not just with the reader but also with each other, talking amongst themselves, offering up their secrets and hard-won words of wisdom, an everlasting conversation through which these poems voice a shared human experience.

Three haiku by Angie Werren

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These are three, seven and twelve from Angie Werren‘s “twenty seconds of haiku” series, a deliberately low-tech approach to videohaiku that’s brilliant when it works. One big advantage Werren has over most other filmmakers, amateur or professional, who attempt videohaiku: she understands what English-language haiku — and micropoetry in general — is all about. Spend some time at her blog Feathers and you’ll see what I mean.

Watch all 13 videos in the “twenty seconds” series on Vimeo. Six also appeared in the new online literary journal Gnarled Oak (which is very videopoetry-friendly, by the way).