Circles in the Sky by Bob Hicok

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This latest Motionpoems animation is by Keri Moller. The poem is from Bob Hicok’s collection Elegy Owed. The Motionpoems monthly email newsletter included this brief exchange with the poet. I like his suggestion for a writing exercise:

MOTIONPOEMS: How did this poem begin?

BOB HICOK: Seeing vultures and loving vultures for being underrated as beauty queens (and kings).

MOPO: What’s your favorite moment in the poem, and why?

HICOK: When it’s over. So i can go work on my shed.

MOPO: Motionpoems are used in classrooms a lot. If you were to recommend a writing prompt or exercise using this poem as a model, writing teachers and students might find that very useful.

HICOK: Go outside. Thrust your arms out like the wings of a vulture. Run in circles around what you imagine to be a grave. Come back in. Write a poem in which you wonder why you didn’t run in circles around what you imagine to be a garden. Put flowers in the garden and a child eating dirt. This may be way too specific. Open your notebook. Write your mind.

This is Hicok’s second poetry film from Motionpoems. The first, “Having intended to merely pick on an oil company, the poem goes awry,” made by Joanna Kohler, remains one of my all-time favorites of theirs. But this one’s also a gem. Something of Hicok’s droll, off-kilter wisdom seems to have infected both filmmakers.

Spiders by Kristine Ong Muslim

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Nic Sebastian’s trademark focus on audiopoetry (as well her growing mastery of video remix) are really on display here as she experiments with a whispered delivery of a poem by Kristine Ong Muslim.

This is one of the latest videopoems based on material at The Poetry Storehouse, which continues to attract high-quality submissions of poetry from around the world. I strongly encourage filmmakers at all levels of expertise to make it their first stop when looking for texts to adapt to film/video.

Un representación de ella (A representation of her) by Alberto Masa

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This is Ella, a film by Javier Reta with cinematography by Iñaki Vargas, art by Yasmina Tous, and sound and music by Bernardo Fernández Pedreira. There’s also a version without English subtitles.

Spanish poet Alberto Masa blogs at Erosionados. The poem appears in his collection. Roberto Alcázar, supongo from Eolas Ediciones.

How to lift him by Ed Madden

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Here’s a Sunday bonus video, a poetic un-sermon after my own heart from one of our finest Southern poets. Ed Madden’s TEDx talk seamlessly incorporates three poems from his 2013 collection My Father’s House: “How to lift him,” “Knowledge,” and “Thirst.” The book’s publisher, Ron Mohring, describes this talk as “Frank, open, painful, specific, direct, moving, and perhaps above all, generous.” I was especially moved by Madden’s quietly radical questioning of the power of communication to change those around us, and his refusal to grasp at easy, glib truths.

The video is also available at the TEDx site.

Glaoch/Call by Doireann Ní Ghríofa

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A film adaptation by Peter Madden of a piece originally titled “Skype,” by the bilingual Irish poet Doireann Ní Ghríofa. Madden first released an English version, about which he noted: “This is basically a performance based video, Doireann simply reads the poem on skype.” Then he made Glaoch (embedded above): “Shot to the same beat as its English version ‘Call’ it varies only very slightly, echoing the changes that occur in translation.”

Both films were part of a recent feature of Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s poetry in Numéro Cinq, which includes her statement about this poem:

Glaoch/Call is a consideration of modern life and love. I am intrigued by the multiple paradoxes of contemporary life — we are more connected than ever through technology, and yet there often remains a fundamental disconnect between us, an emotional distance, a fundamental interpersonal detachment. This poem arose from dissonance between these opposing constructs, and our collaboration in film seeks to further explore this matter.

I know I don’t post nearly as many performance videos here as I could. Sometimes that’s because the poetry is too didactic (a common failing especially of spoken-word poetry, in my view), but more often than not because the filming simply isn’t imaginative enough. But this film, short as it is, proves that a talented filmmaker can transform a performance video into something wonderful — and perhaps transcend the genre altogether. This could just as easily be classed as a videopoem/filmpoem that happens to feature the poet.

Then of course there’s the pleasure of watching and hearing a poem read in another language while reading a good translation in subtitles. That’s one of the things that most interests me about poetry video in general: the way it can be used to bring the music of poetry in other languages across, at the same time helping poets who write in languages with relatively small numbers of speakers to reach a global audience.

Snow Moon by Erica Goss

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This is the second installment in the 12 Moons collaborative videopoem series produced by Swoon (Marc Neys), Kathy McTavish and Nic Sebastian with texts by Erica Goss for publication in Atticus Review. Marc notes that

A large part of the images for this one came from Bea Mariano (from

I really liked the concentration that oozed from these, so I asked if I could re-edit some parts of it for this videopoem. A big thanks to her.

Just as in Wolf Moon, I wanted the ending to take us somewhere completely different. I wanted water, overpowering, and loads of it.

I can’t express enough how much fun it is to work on videopoems with this kind of building blocks.

Read the rest (and visit Atticus Review for full bios of each participant).

Dolor by Theodore Roethke

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This video combines four of my favorite things: Theodore Roethke’s poetry, stop-motion animation, machine-generated poetry reading, and legos. It’s by Manami Okada, who described it briefly on Vimeo:

Stop motion video using spray-painted Legos. A factory setting used to demonstrate the conformity portrayed in Roethke’s poem “Dolor.” Taken with Sony Nex-3