This short video by Allen Wheeler in support of Ed Madden’s poetry collection Ark has two things I love: time-lapse photography and a single, continuous shot from one position. The flooded field in the shot is presumably even more full of light than the field referenced in the text, but given the nature of photography, it’s hard to see how anything less would have worked. The piano music by Kai Engel was found on the Free Music Archive, according to the credits.
One of three short videopoems from the South Carolina-based filmmaking duo Allen Wheeler in support of Ed Madden‘s new poetry collection Ark (Sibling Rivalry Press), ahead of the launch on Sunday. Quoting the publisher’s description:
In a spring of floods, a son returns to rural Arkansas to help care for his dying father. Ark is a book about family, about old wounds and new rituals, about the extraordinary importance of ordinary things at the end of life, about the gifts of healing to be found in the care of the dying. At once a memoir in verse about hospice care and a son’s book-length lament for his father, Ark is a book about the things that can be fixed, and those that can’t. Ed Madden is originally from Arkansas and is currently the Poet Laureate of Columbia, South Carolina.
Wheeler and Madden have also made an exemplary book trailer, incorporating the above poem as well as some blurbs:
It took me a couple of viewings to appreciate the genius of this deceptively simple videopoem, which hinges on the last, sung line of Ed Madden‘s poem. (For folks outside the US who might not recognize the line, it’s from the chorus of the South’s unofficial anthem, “Dixie.”) Brian Harmon is the filmmaker, and the description at Vimeo explains the circumstances:
The City of Columbia’s Poet Laureate, Ed Madden, reading his poem “When we’re told we’ll never understand” from “Hercules and the Wagoner: Reflections, South Carolina, June 17-22, 2015” written June 20, 2015. This poem was written in response to the tragedy at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC and in conjunction with the efforts to remove the Confederate flag from the SC Statehouse grounds.
The poem was originally read as part of the Take It Down rally at the Statehouse on June 20, 2015 and reprinted in both the Free Times and State newspapers.
For the full text of this selection of the poem or the full longer version “Hercules and the Wagoner: Reflections, South Carolina, June 17-22, 2015,” visit the City of Columbia Poet Laureate website at columbiapoet.org.
Betsy Newman explains how she came to make this film in the YouTube description:
This video was created for the event “Saint Sebastian: From Martyr to Gay Starlet,” which was on display in fall 2011 at Friday Cottage Art Space in Columbia, South Carolina. Those who collaborated on the show, which was part of a series of events leading up to Gay Pride week in Columbia, included visual artists Leslie Pierce and Alejandro Garcia-Lemos, the poet Ed Madden, Florida-based video artist Santiago Echeverry and me, Betsy Newman. The text and inspiration for this video come from South Carolina poet Ed Madden and his poem “Red Star,” which in turn was based on [a] print by Garcia-Lemos that can be seen in the video. I think Ed described the video well when he called it “a feverish meditation on penetration” in his essay on the show in the January-February 2012 issue of The Gay and Lesbian Review.
Here’s a Sunday bonus video, a poetic un-sermon after my own heart from one of our finest Southern poets. Ed Madden’s TEDx talk seamlessly incorporates three poems from his 2013 collection My Father’s House: “How to lift him,” “Knowledge,” and “Thirst.” The book’s publisher, Ron Mohring, describes this talk as “Frank, open, painful, specific, direct, moving, and perhaps above all, generous.” I was especially moved by Madden’s quietly radical questioning of the power of communication to change those around us, and his refusal to grasp at easy, glib truths.
The video is also available at the TEDx site.