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.
Cortney Lamar Charleston’s searing poem, from his forthcoming collection Telepathologies (Saturnalia Books, 2017), is brought to the screen by director Seyi Peter-Thomas, Motionpoems and Station Film:
“This poem is about the precarious balance black parents have to strike in order to raise their kids ‘right,’ ” director Seyi Peter-Thomas says of Lamar Charleston’s piece. “It’s wrenching and thought-provoking.” Seyi’s film perfectly communicates this balance as it follows young Malik and his mother navigating life’s highs and lows. The moments of levity and those of unsolicited sobriety explore the complexity of Malik’s experiences as a part of a larger conversation on race and community within today’s uneasy social and political climate.
Seyi says, “Maybe what’s really being asked is how do we save a black child? And, what are the elements we must save them from? It’s a uniquely American conversation, one we’re all having on some level right now.” He hopes viewers will connect with the humanity in the film and also be prompted to ask and answer some questions of their own.
Motionpoems’ newest season of films are based on poems by black American poets, and presented in association with Cave Canem, a home for black poetry.
View more of Seyi’s work HERE.