Poet: Bob Hicok

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.

Having intended to merely pick on an oil company, the poem goes awry, by Bob Hicok

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“An ounce of humility goes a long way in this grounded adaptation of Bob Hicok’s runaway musings on big oil by documentarian Joanna Kohler,” say the folks at Motionpoems. Visit their website for the text of the poem and seven snapshots from behind the scenes in the production of the film. (My favorite is captioned: “Everyone waits and works with the cow’s mood in a single-car garage.”) In this month’s Motionpoems newsletter, Kohler says:

This poem’s most important moment for me was the invitation to being honest with ourselves. I was attracted to this poem’s critical reflection and struggle to put all the pieces together.

My biggest challenge in turning this piece into a film was getting a cow into a South Minneapolis Garage. I had a kick-butt crew who worked some film magic!

I thought it was critical to have a moment in the film that shows the “mass” of what I felt Bob was holding in his words. From a distance a cow is pretty and fun to look at. Up close they are huge, breathing, dirty, sweating and alive. Which is an example of the effort I thought the speaker was trying to make at seeing himself closer.

It’s great to see Motionpoems branching out beyond animation. This is a true videopoem, and a very successful one indeed.