An author-made videopoem by Wisconsin-based writer Blair Braverman that combines two poems in the soundtrack, read, one presumes, by the poet herself, for an interesting interplay of text and video imagery. It’s from the Summer/Fall 2016 issue of TriQuarterly, where the video editor Kristen Radtke says this about it:
Blair Braverman’s “Two Poems About X, 2009 and 2014” features dueling narratives, competing for our attention as they volley back and forth, left to right. The viewer must make a choice: focus on one and experience it fully, or alternate between the two and splice them together into a new, tailor-made narrative—a rare quality in a medium where the viewer is often a passive participant. Braverman’s video invites rewatching, and as one narrative becomes familiar, we’re more capable of digesting the other—most interestingly, opening up a space in which we can experience those narratives in conversation. Much of Braverman’s video is concerned with desire made complicated by gender and terrain, and near its end comes one of its most powerful and beautifully voiced lines: “Half my problems come from wishing that men who have been bad to me would be worse, and the men who have been good would confront them.”
I notice by the way that all videos at TriQuarterly now seem to be designated video essays, which is perhaps a good way to side-step the whole controversy about what to call poetry films; their cinepoetry category hasn’t had any new additions since the previous video editor’s departure. Regardless of what they call them, though, it’s great that such a prominent American literary magazine continues to place such value on literary short films. And I’m pleased to see that they now have a fully public page at Vimeo.
An author-made videopoem by Mexican-American writer José Orduña from the Winter/Spring 2016 issue of Triquarterly (where it’s described as a video essay). This is the first issue with videos chosen and introduced by the new video editor, nonfiction writer and illustrator Kristen Radtke. Here’s what she wrote about “Not My Home”:
In “Not My Home,” José Orduña explores negation. He invites us inside intimate images of a single home—shoes by the door, a stuffed animal on an unmade bed, pencil lines up the wall marking children’s growth. These images are repeated even as the narrator tells us over and over again that the home is not his, that the memories do not belong to him and neither does this story. Yet we as viewers get the feeling he knows this house better than anyone has ever known a home before, and that perhaps that knowledge is exactly why he needs to go about negating it—it is, in a sense, a haunting. Just the slight unease of a subtle breeze, or a motion in the corner of your field of vision, is the sense of a ghost. Orduña’s very short video clips create gorgeous moving snapshots of a disembodied life: Grass twitches. Light shimmers on a teapot. His slow, melancholic images make us ache for the space as much as his narrator seems to.
Click through to watch the other two video essays Radtke chose. I’m pleased to see that the magazine still leads off with its video selections, though I hope that the absence of videos identified as “cinepoetry” is only temporary. (Perhaps they just aren’t getting enough submissions.)