Two poems by Liu Xia

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To celebrate yesterday’s release of Liu Xia from detention, here’s a video of her reading two poems while in captivity, “Untitled” (translated by Ming Di and Jennifer Stern) and “Drinking” (translated by Yu Zhang). A 2015 post on the PEN America website has the text of both translations, as well as the back-story:

October 8, 2015, will mark five years that Liu Xia, the wife of imprisoned Chinese writer and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, has been under extralegal house arrest in her Beijing apartment. It was on this date in 2010 that Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjørn Jagland announced from Oslo that her husband was to receive the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize “for his long and nonviolent struggle for human rights in China.” Within hours, police descended on her apartment complex, cut her phone lines, and barred friends and family from entry.

In this rare video, shot in December 2013 after friends ripped past the guards to her apartment, Liu Xia is seen reading two of her own poems in her apartment. Liu casually sits at her desk just outside the soft glow of a reading lamp, smoking a cigarette and reading from her notebook. After she finishes reading the second poem, “Drinking,” she gives a hasty thumbs up to the unidentified camera operator heard whistling in approval.

On December 1, 2015, PEN will host a reading of Liu Xia’s poems from a new translation of her poetry, Empty Chairs—forthcoming on November 3 from Graywolf Press—at Book Court in New York City. Stay tuned for details to come.

Threshold by Ocean Vuong

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A poem by the justly celebrated young writer Ocean Vuong, translated to film by Michelle Cheripka for the Visible Poetry Project, which released it back on April 23rd. Cheripka is, as they note,

the founder and Executive Producer of Visible Poetry Project. Michelle is currently based in Brooklyn, NY, where she writes screenplays, essays, and poetry. She directs and produces both short and long-form films and web series. She graduated from Columbia University, where she studied English.

“Threshold” is the opening poem in Vuong’s debut collection Night Sky with Exit Wounds, which has won the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Whiting Award, the Thom Gunn Award, and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, among other honors.

Misery by Sarah Sloat

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I’ve been following Sarah J. Sloat’s erasure poetry project using Stephen King’s Misery ever since it began, on a subsequently deleted Tumblr site, as a poem-a-day project in 2016, and thereafter in various online magazines (such as Tupelo Quarterly and Escape Into Life) as Sloat’s erasures have become ever more visually arresting and imaginative. Just last week there was this interview and feature in Neon Pajamas.

So I was delighted to see a video collaboration between Sarah Sloat and Marie Craven, incorporating images from the erasures in a montage of Marie’s own invention. Here’s how Marie describes it in a just-published blog post:

Sarah Sloat creates hand-made visual art pieces that are also poems. She does this by using various techniques to ‘erase’ most of the words from pages of Stephen King’s novel, ‘Misery’. Her ‘erasures’ leave only scattered words around the page, forming small poems. To these, she adds found images, related to the poems in associative ways that might recall surrealism. With Sarah’s permission and ongoing feedback, I have here selected a number of the visual poetry pieces and adapted them. The video of ‘Misery’ attempts to construct a fragmented narrative, or new poem, from the juxtaposition of the selected visual poetry pieces. It focuses strongly on the image components of Sarah’s ‘Misery’ pages and creates a new form in motion with them. Not a strict ‘presentation’ of Sarah’s visual poetry, the video is my response to their inspiration. Music is by Gurdonark, whose Creative Commons music I have been following for about eight years. Other videos I have made from Sarah Sloat’s poetry are Dictionary Illustrations and Nightlight Ghazal.

The Bird by Matt Dennison

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Two interpretations of a Matt Dennison poem by Jutta Pryor, the first incorporating a flute improvisation by Bruno Gussoni. For the text of the poem (voiced by the author in both films), click through to Vimeo.

say your prairies by Martha McCollough

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Martha McCollough’s latest videopoem is a bit of a departure from her previous work, reinforcing her reputation as one of the most versatile practitioners of the medium. Whether or not she intended it as a statement on the freshly controversial Laura Ingalls Wilder—the last line would seem to suggest that she did—it’s a great meditation on language and the construction (or destruction) of place.

Happy Independence Day to all my American readers.

An Antelope’s Eyes by Sophia Buchanan Bannister

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This complex, multi-faceted videopoem was the April 26 offering from the Visible Poetry Project, and was directed by one of the project’s executive producers, Christina Ellsberg, about whom the website notes:

She graduated from Barnard College in 2016, where she studied medical anthropology and poetry writing. Christina is currently working on an upcoming horror/comedy web series, and will be attending divinity school in the fall.

As for the poet,

Sophia Buchanan Bannister is currently studying English as an undergraduate at Barnard College. In addition to poetry, her interests include baking, comedy, and vintage shoes. She was drawn to the Visible Poetry Project for the opportunity to share a vision, a sentiment, and an urgency across artistic mediums.

Poem in which we hear the word ‘drone’ by Josephine Corcoran

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This is the latest in a series of videos by Helen Dewbery and Chaucer Cameron for collections of poetry from Nine Arches Press, which just celebrated its tenth birthday with the publication of the book excerpted here: What Are You After? by Josephine Corcoran. (It’s a lovely collection, incidentally; I just bought a copy and began reading it yesterday. Always good to support a fellow blogger and late bloomer!)