Poet: James Brush

For Gasoline by James Brush

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Earlier this week, Spanish filmmakers Javi Zurrón (Myblue Audiovisual) and Eduardo Yagüe simultaneously released these two films based on the same poem by the Texas-based writer James Brush, from his collection of road poetry, Highway Sky. In the Myblue Audiovisual version, Brush’s recitation is in the soundtrack, with Yagüe’s Spanish translation in titling; in his own film, Yagüe reads the translation and the original appears on the screen. In their footage and soundtracks, the two films are completely different but complementary, interpreting the text in a similar manner. Aida Riesgo of Myblue Audiovisual stars in both, and Javi Zurrón is the male actor in Yagüe’s Gasolina.

The romance of the automobile is as old as pop music, but usually it’s some specific hot car or motorcycle, not gasoline itself, that is depicted as an object of desire. These videopoems feel simultaneously new and deeply indebted to the music video tradition, not in the soundtrack but in the iconography (a scene of a rock concert, a Ramones t-shirt, a tattoo, etc.).

The Ramble by James Brush

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James’ first video haiku — see his blog post about it.

God Bless Johnny Cash by James Brush

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Poet and blogger James Brush’s very first go at the videopoem genre.

I haven’t made a video for fun in 16 years. Perhaps it was the time spent working on film sets in the early ’90s, but I lost interest somewhere along the way. The inspiration for this came from Christine Swint’s “Anybody’s Child” and Dave Bonta’s post on poets and technology over at Very Like a Whale. In the comments I mentioned that I have a film degree and probably should take a crack at doing a video poem sometime.

Then, this evening, I was about to post this poem along with audio of me reading. The poem started with some pictures I had taken of my guitar with the iphone Hipstamatic app, and I thought it would be cool to put one of the pictures up. Next thing I knew, I was building this video.

The “music” is something I recorded a few years back by overdubbing several tracks of me playing my guitar (well, really I was mostly playing the amplifier) and my wife’s bass. I’m not sure if it’s too loud, but I was trying to submerge the voice a little bit without losing too much clarity.

The post also includes the text of the poem. James’ film expertise really shows here, I think: the mix of sound and images is just right, and there’s just enough movement going on for this to qualify in my mind as a “moving poem,” even though, as he says, he was inspired in part by a recent, high-quality slideshow-video from Christine Swint. I love seeing poetry-blogger friends experiment with multimedia, and I’m proud of whatever small role I might have played in helping to make that happen.