“Meet the Queens of Quarantine Poetry” is Houston Public Media‘s only slightly clickbaity title for this seamless blend of interview and videopoem. From the YouTube description:
In this time of quarantine and self-isolation, two friends have been co-writing a series of poems inspired by the coronavirus pandemic.
Houston poet Melissa Studdard and Seattle poet Kelli Russell Agodon connect across the miles through Zoom to read their poem “When We Get Lonely, It Will Be Together” and to describe what it means to create art during a pandemic.
I follow both poets on social media and have been reading their collaboratively written quarantine poems with great interest, so it was wonderful to get some background on how the project evolved: out of their pre-existing habit of writing together in a virtual shared study space, using video conferencing software and reading each other’s drafts on Google docs. It’s great that they’re letting the rest of us read over their shoulders, as it were, especially given the pressure from literary journals to hide all one’s poetry away in order to keep it eligible for submission. I advise following Kelli and Melissa on Twitter, where they post the drafts as jpegs. Here are links to some of the more recent ones, posted on April 21, April 22, April 25, April 27, May 5 – two on that day, and May 8.
A new videopoem by Marc Neys in response to a text and reading by Czech poet Jaromír Typlt, translated for the English subtitles by David Vichnar. The footage is from Jan Eerala, and the music is Neys’ own. He quotes Typlt in the Vimeo description:
The central image of the poem is the “postcard rack”, but the second meaning is now also the meaning of corona-restrictions of the international movements: I wrote the poem in my Paris isolation (confinement).
Typlt added this in a blog post (adapted from a Google translation):
There are two dangers to “filmed poems”: either they illustrate the text too literally with a picture, or they are so loose that they are interchangeable with anything else. And that is why for me SWOON (Marc Neys), a video artist from Belgium, is such a remarkable phenomenon: he can open a space free enough for the text, and at the same time close-fitting. […] The film A Parade is our third collaboration after In the Sign (2013) and Instincteia (2014). This time the voice recording was not made in the studio, but in makeshift conditions at the same window in Paris where the whole strange vision was born on April 10, 2020…
Director Tova Beck-Friedman calls this “A cine-poem about the space between suffering and life lived. It’s also about survival and the unforgotten pain.” Dancer Juliet Neidish’s interpretation of the poem, choreographed by Beck-Friedman, is juxtaposed with archival footage for maximum emotional effect.
Susan Rich is the poet, and I was stunned to read an open letter on her blog detailing how the film was commissioned by the Visible Poetry Project and then censored at the very last moment, apparently for being insufficiently pious about the Holocaust! An astonishing and outrageous decision. All the more reason to share it here, then, of course (though I’d intended to anyway, before I’d read Rich’s post). I’ve been happy to see it getting well-deserved attention on social media, as well. As Rich notes in her open letter,
If there were ever a time to support each other, that time is now. The best art pushes and challenges us to the point of discomfort.