I Long to Hold the Poetry Editor’s Penis in My Hand by Francesca Bell

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Rattle is one of the most widely circulated print literary journals in the U.S., and I’ve always admired its website as well. So I was very interested to see it venture into poetry film production last month, partnering with Mike Gioia and Blank Verse Films to make a film out of Francesca Bell‘s popular, sardonic poem from Rattle‘s Summer 2013 issue. Featuring the poet as an actor seems like a nearly inevitable choice for this poem, but it really works well.

The YouTube description suggests that this will be a monthly thing: “Rattle magazine presents episode one of their new video series ‘A Poet’s Space’. This month…” So that’s really good news.

Poem (I lived in the first century of world wars) by Muriel Rukeyser

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Julia VanArsdale Miller of Manual Cinema directed this affecting film, which includes shadow puppets, live actors, and animation by Lizi Breit. Here are the full credits.

In this startling animation of Muriel Rukeyser’s “Poem (I lived in the first century of world wars),” two lives unfold in split screen, one during the tumultuous world events of 1968, the other 50 years later against a new landscape of uncertainty and ever-present digital technology.

The film was produced by the Poetry Foundation just last year, part of a new focus on poetry videos on their website, which I was excited to discover recently. When I started this website ten years ago, the Poetry Everywhere series of animations produced by the Poetry Foundation (in association with docUWM at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) was one of the major caches of poetry animations on YouTube, and though they were made by university students and therefore not as sophisticated as the series of Billy Collins animations that had been produced by JWTNY a few years earlier, they were plentiful and my standards were low, so they had a lot to do with turning Moving Poems from a short-term gallery into a long-term blog. I’d always hoped that the Poetry Foundation would devote more of its considerable endowment to producing poetry films some day. It looks as if that day might finally be here.

New Arctic by Allain Daigle

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The latest issue (#155) of Triquarterly came out on January 14, opening as usual with a section of video essays/cinepoems, including this one by Allain Daigle, which is described as a cinepoem on Vimeo but labeled a video essay on the website. His bio at the latter location reads:

Allain Daigle is a PhD candidate in Media, Cinema, and Digital Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is currently writing his dissertation, which historicizes the industrialization of lens production between the late 19th century and the 1920s. His work has appeared in Film History, [in]Transition, The Atlantic, and TriQuarterly.

In “An Introduction to Video Essays” in TQ 155, Sarah Minor writes,

Using a style that sets high-quality footage to the pace of slow breathing, Allain Daigle’s “New Arctic” thinks about the future of our planet without using images of landscape. In this project, Daigle shows us a house being built from the inside: industrial lighting, radio waves, breaths that rise in parcels. He asks us to consider the changes “our skin doesn’t notice” that mean our children will “dream about icebergs,” because “the new Arctic,” of course, is an oxymoron.

The videos in this suite trick us into seeing three familiar technologies in unfamiliar ways. Each piece showcases the variety of formats, structures, and new media that today’s literary videos might take on.

Read the rest… and then watch the other two videos.

Сонг / Song by Eta Dahlia

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Click the closed captioning (CC) icon to read the English subtitles.

An author-made videopoem by Eta Dahlia, who notes in the Vimeo description:

Song (Сонг) is part of an album of thirteen compositions called Tsvetochki (Цветочки). The video poem aims to create a new type of poetic language, integrating spoken word with moving image and not merely echoing or illustrating the spoken word with visuals.

Eta Dahlia is

A London based Russian film maker and video-poet. I am part of the No Such Thing collective.

Satori en veille (Standby satori) by Jean Coulombe: three selections

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These are numbers 3, 7 and 15 from a 20-part series of videopoems made for an exhibition last year in Quebec City by Jean Coulombe and Gilbert Sévigny, AKA Éditions VA. The haiku-like texts are by Coulombe, they collaborated on the videos, and the sounds are credited to Marie-Louise. The exhibition itself consisted of “20 tableaux ayant pour thématique la basse-ville de Québec. Chaque tableau était jumelé à un vidéo poème accessible sur internet, par un code QR” (20 pictures about downtown Quebec City. Each picture was twinned to a vidéo-poem linked on the web with a QR code). The exhibition catalogue is online in PDF form.

Many of the texts are coffee-themed, and I gather the exhibition was in a coffee shop. Satori in Zen means awakening, so it makes sense to refer to the effect of caffeine as a sort of satori on stand-by. There’s a preface in the catalogue called “Un petit moment” (A small moment) which I ran through Google Translate (I don’t know much French):

Each passing day gives us a chance to appreciate small moments. Stopping for coffee is one of them.

This special moment allows reflection and even in some cases a form of meditation.

What remains afterward?

Of course, in our minds a lot of things are floating around: daydreams, inner dialogues or observations. But there is also the physical and ephemeral presence of this little “ring” left by the cup of coffee on the table. One does not notice it, and yet one is witness to the discreet happiness of this tiny moment.

I love everything about this exhibition and these brief videopoems. Watch all 20 on the Éditions Victor & Anita Vimeo page, or click through to the YouTube versions from the exhibition catalogue.

seed by Asim Khan

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One of a series of videopoetry collaborations between the UK poet Asim Khan and video artist and experimental animator David C. Montgomery. Watch the others at Asim’s Vimeo page. The soundtrack on this one is courtesy of Maja Jantar (voice) and Kristof Lauwers (electronics).

Ambulance ballet by Janet Lees

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Isle of Man-based poet and artist Janet Lees has long been an important figure in the international poetry film scene, often collaborating with Terry Rooney, but recently she’s been experiencing a creative surge, she told me, and one only needs to visit her Vimeo page to see the evidence: a number of new, generally very short films that showcase her range of interests and stylistic approaches. One constant in her work is the preference for text-on-screen. She also often deploys just a single shot, which works because—as I’ve come to learn by following her on Instagram—she has a terrific eye. Her one-line description on IG: “everything is poetry”.