Vacations: the videopoem


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What do we vacate when we go on vacation? What do we re-create when we engage in recreation? Here are four one-line poems (AKA monostiches) about summer vacation activities which may or may not answer these questions. One thing is certain, though: a bear in a berry patch knows exactly what she’s doing.

Process notes

Saturday’s collection of six one-line poems, “What we did on our summer vacations,” was a blog post of last resort. I’d actually spent much of the day trying to figure out how to make a video for the whale-watching piece, which I’d drafted as a haiku on Twitter the day before. I looked at a ton of free-to-use footage on the web, but didn’t see anything I liked, so finally I got the idea of writing some thematically linked monostiches instead. This turned out, of course, to make an excellent blog post, because so many of you responded by leaving one-line vacation poems of your own in the comments. I love it when that happens.

At mid-morning on Sunday, we got a real downpour, and I went out on my porch to shoot some video. When I looked at the results on Monday, I noticed a couple of interesting things. One is that I had unknowingly captured a box turtle struggling to cross the torrents of water in the road, and narrowly missing getting crushed by the tires of our neighbor’s truck. I was simply shooting the road without, obviously, paying a great deal of attention to what was in the viewfinder screen. This footage doesn’t appear in the above video, for the simple reason that I couldn’t make it fit, but it says something about my level of attentiveness while filming, I think. I did use two other pieces of front-porch rainstorm footage, however, one of them for the original one-liner about whale-watching.

I’ve always preferred the text-only approach to videopoetry when making haiku videos, and that seemed like the best approach this time, too. I was constrained in which poems I could use, because I wanted each to fit on a single line at a legible font-size. I thought about using a musical soundtrack to give the video a unified feel, but it seemed important instead to use found sound — and I got lucky, because someone on freesound.org had uploaded a recording of whale vocalizations made while SCUBA diving in the Pacific. I don’t know if they’re humpbacks or not, but what the heck. To keep the video from growing too long, I made each sound sample exactly 15 seconds long, and trimmed the video to match.

Thanks to the frequent crashes of my woefully inadequate video-editing software (Adobe Premiere Elements 7), I wasn’t able to save the project in a form suitable for uploading last night. This turns out to have been a good thing, because this morning I got the idea of adding some extra footage after each segment, which had the effect I think of giving each poem more breathing room, and also suggesting another interpretative dimension. A video that last night struck me as kind of hum-drum now seems to have the requisite pizzazz — though granted, my standards are fairly low. As for the content of that extra, unifying footage: it was a toss-up between a black bear and a millipede. The bear won.

2 Comments


  1. Very enjoyable! The bear makes a great emcee. I really like how you have the poem fade over the video while the video’s sound continues. My only suggestion involves the amount of time to read: I had to race to take in the excellent poems themselves before they faded away. (Or maybe I’m a slow reader at the sentence level, too . . .)

    Reply

    1. Thanks for the generally favorable review. I was worried that might not’ve been quite enough time on-screen for the poems…

      Reply

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