Dead leaf (videohaiku)

Watch on Vimeo.

I had fun watching and filming a woolly bear caterpillar this morning. The text of the haiku occurred to me as I was filming. The word “frass” may be slighty obscure, but I hope it’s obvious from the context what it means. Caterpillar droppings are hard and dry — not at all the image that “shit” or “excrement” conjure up (though my mother does have a t-shirt with a drawing of a caterpillar and the message “frass happens”).

As with other videohaiku I’ve done, I find that, in contrast to regular videopoetry, a straightforward, “naive” relationship between footage and text can succeed as long as the text is saved for afterwards. The effect, I hope, is to reproduce something of the process by which a haiku is born: close observation yielding a sudden insight (though in this case, arguably, my insight was not especially profound). This is the first time I’ve added music to the soundtrack of a videohaiku; usually I just use the ambient sound, but that was marred this time by the camera scraping against the concrete.

The time equation might be of interest. In all, it took me three hours to make the video and an hour and fifteen minutes to upload it. Of that time, only about three minutes were spent polishing the text of the poem. So the filmmaking took about 60 times longer than the writing. (And then I spent some 25 minutes adjusting the settings on Vimeo and composing this post. Sure would’ve been easier just to post the damn haiku!)

3 Comments


  1. “Frass” is a useful word and deserves to be more widely used. I’d love to have that t-shirt!
    Thank you for posting the video poem – a real gem – and for telling us about the process. It was time well spent. Life’s too short for ironing shirts.

    Reply

    1. Hey, thanks, Ama! I’m glad you liked that. As for those t-shirts, I gather from a Facebook friend who works there that they’re still available through the Penn State Entomology Department, but I don’t know whether they ship to the UK or not.

      Reply

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