The Fifth String (videopoem)

This entry is part 10 of 34 in the series Breakdown: The Banjo Poems

Another videopoem in support of my poetry chapbook, Breakdown: Banjo Poems. For this one, Steven Sherrill — the same Renaissance man responsible for the cover painting — supplied the banjo playing on the soundtrack. He uploaded it to SoundCloud, where I messed with it just a little and layered in my reading of “The Fifth String.” (I don’t have a very good microphone these days so the recording quality is a little primitive, but primitive seems all right here, at least for this track.) The footage comes once again from the Prelinger archive of ephemeral films, in this case two television commercials from the 1960s or late 50s, now in the public domain. I was a little worried that the result might be too weird, but Steve tells me he loves it: “The tone/look of the video is akin to what I paint.”

I might mention that, in addition to a sub-par microphone, I have been using very basic video editing software as well: Live Movie Maker for Windows 7! The version of Adobe Premiere Elements I’d been using before does not work very well in my new environment, and frankly, for this simple kind of remix, Movie Maker is almost good enough. It’s certainly a lot more versatile than the older version I had on my desktop. For audio editing, I use Audacity, which is free and open source — and so good nowadays I find I don’t miss Adobe Audition at all.

My thinking about these audiopoems and videopoems, by the way, is that they don’t necessarily drive more sales of the chapbook; if that were my primary reason for making them, I suspect I’d be disappointed. They’re just fun to make, and the publication of the book provides a handy pretext for spending many enjoyable hours exploring SoundCloud and archive.org. Plus, they will give me something else to do during a live reading besides just read from a podium. I do have this notion that audiences at poetry readings deserve first and foremost to be entertained.

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