This simple but devastating poetry film pairs U.S. poet Maggie Smith with Irish filmmaker Kate Dolan. It’s the latest web release from Motionpoems’ Season 8, “Dear Mr. President”. As a nature lover I appreciated the inclusion of a starfish in one shot, subtly suggesting a link between the deaths of human refugees and of species impacted by global warming — a small but effective example of how a film can add additional dimensions to the poem on the page.
Directed by Savanah Leaf, this is the first film from Motionpoems’ Season 8, “Dear Mr. President,” to be released on the web. Tiana Clark‘s poem is included in her collection I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood, which won the 2017 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize and is due out this fall from the University of Pittsburgh Press.
Click through to Vimeo for the full credits.
Every year the Motion Poems organization puts on a film festival where they pair a poet along with a filmmaker. The filmmaker is given nothing more than the words on the page to go off of for inspiration. The two never really meet and the result is a new visual interpretation of the poem that new and not influenced by the poet. Timber was lucky to be invited to the 2016 round and 7th season of the Motion Poems series. This year the theme was black poets and the poem we interrupted was Sonnet After Chopin’s Requiem by Monique-Adelle.
Enjoy the visual journey that we were taken on by the beautiful words of the author. Timber explored the ideas of visualizing sound and the experience of Synesthesia. We wanted to experiment with textures and feels and create worlds that evoked movement and ambiguity.
Click through for the credits, and visit Motionpoems to read the text.
A film by Sundance Award-winning director Malik Vitthal for Motionpoems, based on the title poem from Carmen Gillespie‘s 2106 collection from Two Silvias Press. An adept juxtaposition of filmpoem lyricism with the kind of storytelling familiar to movie-goers conveys a powerful sense of the experience of loss within the African American community and beyond.
Motionpoems have also released a video interview with Gillespie, filmed and edited by Ramble Pictures, about the origin of the poem and the film:
Eric Doise, who conducted the interview, also put together a lesson plan for poetry teachers [PDF] based on the film and interview — the sort of thing I hope to see a lot more of in the coming years, both from Motionpoems and from other poetry-film makers as well.
Animation by Victor Newman of a poem from Gary Jackson‘s book Missing You, Metropolis, which “imagines the comic-book worlds of Superman, Batman, and the X-Men alongside the veritable worlds of Kansas, racial isolation, and the gravesides of a sister and a friend,” according to the publisher’s description. Newman was assisted by animators Jonathan Djob Nkonbo and Jeff Chong, JD McMillin did the sound design, and the voiceover is by Chuck Johnson.
Tryouts was produced by Motionpoems as part of their Season 7, in partnership with Cave Canem. For the text of the poem, see the Motionpoems website.