Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending a poetry reading by Elizabeth Bradfield at Penn State, which concluded with this videopoem projected onto the wall behind her, following a section of haibun riffing off photos that used Powerpoint. It was great to see multimedia casually included as part of a very well-attended reading in an academic setting — though Bradfield herself works not in academia but as a naturalist-interpreter on Cape Cod, which showed, I think, in the ease and common touch with which she introduced her poems. The students seemed very energized by the reading, even before the multimedia portion, and following a 20-minute question-and-answer period, they formed a lengthy queue to buy her books and get her autograph. It was gratifying to see a good poet get the sort of reception she deserved, for once. I bought a copy of her 2010 book Approaching Ice, a personal take on the history of polar exploration, and am enjoying it immensely.
Though this video and its two companions (one of which, Deliquescence, I shared last December) represent Bradfield’s first foray into videopoetry, she and her collaborator Demet Taspinar seem to have all the right instincts. In part, I think, this is because they proceeded ekphrastically: footage first, then the words.
A collaboration between video artist Demet Taspinar, who made this film, and me (Elizabeth Bradfield) who wrote a poem to it. Demet made the movie when working in Antarctica, which is where we met aboard an expedition ship. She was the ship’s doctor; I was a naturalist. We’ve made three of these collaborations so far. First published on “The Rumpus” as video and also as a printed poem in April, 2013.
A film by Demet Taspinar with poem and voice-over by Elizabeth Bradfield. The fascinating back-story of their collaboration, as described on Vimeo, suggests that the images may have elicited the text to some extent:
A collaboration between video artist Demet Taspinar, who made this film, and me (Elizabeth Bradfield) who wrote a poem to it. Demet made the movie when working in Antarctica, which is where we met aboard an expedition ship. She was the ship’s doctor; I was a naturalist. We’ve made three of these collaborations so far. This one was published (in video and as a printed poem) in Alaska Quarterly Review.
the author of Interpretive Work (Arktoi Books/Red Hen Press, 2008), which won the Audre Lorde Award and was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and Approaching Ice (Persea Books, 2010), a book of poems about Arctic and Antarctic exploration that was a finalist for the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets.