The Grave Dug by Beasts (videopoem)

This entry is part 11 of 12 in the series The Temptations of Solitude


Watch at Vimeo.

Some footage of an anemone from the algae exhibit at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, seemed like a good fit for the first of my poems in response to Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ “Temptations of Solitude” paintings. It is of course a tricky thing to come up with film images to go with a poem that itself was a response to another, completely different image — but for that very reason, a fun challenge.

Series Navigation← “Tempations of Solitude” series now half as solitaryThe Grave Dug by Beasts: a new videopoem by Swoon →

12 Comments


  1. I’m blown away by this Dave. How exciting. It made me shiver, lost in a alien universe of sights and sounds. Extraordinary to experience the familiar poem rendered unfamiliar, hauntingly beautiful in a quite different way to how I’ve known it up until now.

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    1. Clive! I’m awfully glad you like it. I wasn’t sure if I still would this morning. Maybe if I cut in scenes from something completely different, as I did in the videopoem for Peter Stephens’ “hollow,” it would jazz it up. But then I think, no, jazzing up is exactly what it doesn’t need…

      You’ve probably already figured this out, but for best effect click on HD (then pause it and wait for it to load if you’re on a slower internet connection), and click the little four-arrows icon to expand to full screen.

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  2. This is breathtaking. It’s become something quite different from the poem/painting diptych – an almost unbearable evocation of a more permanent, less human (or do I mean more human – unbearable implies self-consciousness) solitude. The red, though, maintains on some level a link with the painting.

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    1. O.K., that makes two people whose aesthetic judgements I highly value giving this a thumbs-up. Maybe it’s a keeper! And yes, I thought that was a very Hicks-Jenkinsian red. (I didn’t monkey with saturation at all; I simply darkened the video a little to increase the contrast between beast/grave and background.)

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  3. I echo all that Clive and Jean said but I do have one reservation:
    I wish that you had read the words in your ordinary, conversational voice instead of the somewhat sing-song tone that you adopted. I feel that the background soundtrack and the video are strange and strong enough not to need any embellishments to the poem, spoken straightforwardly.
    Apart from that, it’s beautiful!

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    1. Thanks. Actually, that was my normal conversational voice, only quieter than usual because I had my mouth right up to the mike. I’m not sure I like the effect, either.

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  4. Dave, what I meant was that the way you read the poem wasn’t your normal way of speaking.

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  5. A beautiful synthesis, Dave. And I enjoyed the sense of cantor in the voice.

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  6. I don’t want to make anemone out of anyone lest there be a vocal coach in the mix, :) but since I have never heard Dave’s voice, I was curious. I listened to his poetic recitation from the podium in England. It was great to hear your voice, Dave. A nice voice it is, , and I enjoyed the self deprecating humor as well. Then I went back again to the present version. There is indeed a marked difference in cadence and tone from the reading in England and the podcast. Maybe there is something about the beat and the music with the sea creature that brings out the cantor in you, Dave. (grin).
    At any rate, it’s a brilliant juxtaposition of poem and sea critter. Plus! I can now add Hicks-Jenkinsian red to my palette.

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  7. Thanks, Joan and Dick (and Natalie for clarifying your point). I guess my intent with the reading style here was to make it sound like someone talking to himself rather than to others, as I’ve heard hermits are wont to do. :)

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  8. Hmm. I couldn’t see a credit for the background accompaniment. Like the orifice.

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    1. Well, I so altered it from the original — it was a up-tempo funk tune — I wasn’t sure the artists would want a credit, though under the terms of their CC license, I guess I do owe it to them.

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