To Make a Poem in Prison by Etheridge Knight

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The late, great Etheridge Knight recites his poem in this “archival remix” by Daniel Cantagallo, whose work I stumbled across on Vimeo the other night. Here’s the informative description:

It is hard to make a poem in prison, but Etheridge Knight fashioned many, and grateful he did. Born in Corinth, Mississippi, Knight was a Korean War vet who became a drug addict. Eventually put away for armed robbery, he renounced anger and committed his life to poetry while behind bars. His first volume of “Poems from Prison”, cemented his status in the Black Arts movement, and coincided with his release in 1968.

Reading is from Etheridge Knight and footage from 1966 CBS Report, “Men In Cages.”

Learn more: theparisreview.org/blog/2015/03/12/the-space-between-everything/

The link goes to a lecture on Knight by Terrance Hayes.

I was fortunate enough to attend a reading by Etheridge Knight many years ago in the intimate setting of Penn State’s Rare Books Room, which had an impressive collection of books and chapbooks from the Black Arts Movement. Knight’s reading and commentary was a crash course in the dirty dozens and the African American oral poems known as toasts, and dovetailed with my then-intense interest in the blues. Which is a long-winded way of saying I had a lot of aha moments that afternoon.

Children are the Orgasm of the World by Hera Lindsay Bird

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Frances Haszard animates a poem by New Zealand poet Hera Lindsay Bird for The Pantograph Punch:

Back in 2012, we held our first-ever event. It was at St Kevins Arcade, overlooking the city. We sat on worn wooden chairs and talked about why we hadn’t left Auckland. Tiny Ruins sang, and Hera Lindsay Bird read from a crumpled piece of paper.

The poem she read that Friday night was Children are the Orgasm of the World. It was unexpected and electric, with the kind of deliciously awkward humour that moms of the future would surely have. We loved it.

Four years on, Hera’s launching her long-anticipated debut collection of poetry, Hera Lindsay Bird, and we’re excited to be celebrating the ocassion with a video of that first poem we heard (animated by Frances Haszard, who also illustrated our remarkable Mint Chicks oral history vid).

(Hat-tip: David Graham at the V-V Talk group on Facebook.)

Sonata by Sam Roxas-Chua 姚

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A beautifully simple, effective video for a stunning poem by the Eugene, Oregon-based poet Sam Roxas-Chua 姚 (Yao).

Being & being empty by Jane Glennie

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Here’s UK artist and typographer Jane Glennie‘s latest filmpoem, which she introduces on Vimeo as follows:

How to be a mother … who is this being that I am? Wanting to be half-full with the joy of play, a job well done, and the softness of a bed to sink into at the end. Feeling half-empty with a busy brain that won’t shut down and twitches into awakening too early. Feeling overwhelmed by the chores and feeling rubbish as a result because surely that’s really not important. Tossing and turning and struggling to make a zingy start to each new day.

It’s amazing how hard a skilled poetry filmmaker like Glennie can make 37 seconds work. The effect of an enervated, over-active brain is not merely communicated but, one feels, directly represented. Brava!

Mr. Sky by Lucy English

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From dawn to nightfall, the sky reflects a couple’s relationship.

(don’t forget to look for the face in the clouds)

A recent addition to Lucy English‘s Book of Hours project, this time by her collaborator at Liberated Words, Sarah Tremlett, who’s credited as photographer and director, with James Symonds as editor and music by Kevin MacLeod.

Update (30 March 2018)
Sarah sent along these process notes:

Lucy and I had two separate ideas in parallel. In terms of the visuals – I get up early and noticed the dramatic colours playing out in the winter sky. Actually a mystical orange glow appeared through the window one morning! I wanted to capture the sky at brief intervals from dawn to dusk (with a history as a painter always fascinated by changing patterns of light) and spent a day doing so. Lucy then mentioned she had a new poem – Mr Sky – which was one of those wonderful coincidences. I like to work from nature or live footage where possible and you can wait a long time for the right image to turn up, or just be too preoccupied to see it … and then you need just the right poem and soundscape!

The Old Shopping Trolley Told Me by Brendan Bonsack

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A minimalist, author-made videopoem by Brendan Bonsack, “Filmed on location at The Merri Merri, Melbourne/Narrm, Australia.” Here’s the text. I thought this would make an interesting contrast to yesterday’s video by Ian Gibbins: also an author-made videopoem from Australia, but there the resemblance pretty much ends… except, I think, for the crucial role of the soundtrack in both.

Heist by Ian Gibbins

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A strangely compelling videopoem by Australian poet, composer and retired scientist Ian Gibbins. I say “strangely” because, after watching it twice, I still have no idea what it’s about… but I’m eager to watch it again! I particularly liked the use of computer code-like text on screen, which reminded me of what Gibbins did with mathematical notation in “accidentals (recalculated).” It also made me think of the WordPress slogan “Code is Poetry,” which I’ve always struggled with because the converse (“poetry is code”) is an unfortunately fairly widespread perception that prevents so many people from simply enjoying poetry, feeling instead that it’s a puzzle to be solved. That said, “Heist” does seem to tease certain detective-story sensibilities. Here’s the précis on Vimeo:

// * Calculating_our_options, we_talked_about * //
> C:\ [Raid 1] clandestine_surveillance, sleeplessness;
> D:\ [Raid 2] digital_account_protocols, stolen_cars;
> E:\ [Raid 3] handwritten_code, avarice_and_betrayal {who_is_working_the_numbers, keeping_track_of_time?};
> V:\ [Raid 4] execution, small_arms_fire (countersunk_beleaguered); {will_there_be_backup_when_we_are_zeroed_to_baseline?}.

This is one of two videos of Gibbins’ to be screened last weekend at the 6th International Video Poetry Festival in Athens.

UPDATE (1/25/18): At my suggestion, Gibbins has blogged about the video: “heist: what’s going on here?” I’m finding it difficult to excerpt the post since the whole thing is worth reading, so please just click through and read it.

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