I made another video with one of Nic S.’s readings, this time for a poem by Nicelle Davis, “Cuba and Coltrane,” from her Whale Sound audio chapbook, Studies in Monogamy. I may not have any personal familiarity with marital discord, but who can’t identify with a relationship built on a shared longing to be elsewhere and otherwise than we are?
As is almost always the case, this started with me noticing that something looked cool and needed to be filmed: in this case, the cattails blowing in the clear morning light with my new pink flamingo garden ornament slightly out-of-focus in the foreground. So I set up the camera on Saturday morning, knowing too that at some point someone would drive up the road and pass between cattails and flamingo. Once I had the footage, I began looking through Nic’s Whale Sound material for something appropriate, and “Cuba and Coltrane” immediately struck me as the best fit. Cuba, after all, actually hosts a breeding population of flamingos, unlike — say — Florida. And the blowing cattails were nothing if not jazzy.
I contacted the author for permission before I got too far along in the editing, gave her a rough outline of what I wanted to do, and linked to my videopoetry album on Vimeo. When she wrote back, she mentioned that she and her 3 1/2-year-old son had watched all of my videos, which was astonishing, and added that her son actually requested more of them this morning in preference to cartoons! High praise indeed. I remember just how addictive cartoons were when I was that age.
Maybe it was the mention of cartoons, but I got the idea of putting in some clips from slapstick comedies of the silent film era to illustrate the domestic conflict a bit more graphically. This may be a bit of overkill, I’m not sure. But it gave me a good excuse to browse through the online Edison Motion Pictures collection on the Library of Congress website.
I also thought it important to include some Coltrane in the soundtrack, and one way to do that without breaking copyright laws was to find a cover of a Coltrane tune licensed for remix/reuse under the Creative Commons. I decided to try SoundCloud this time, and hit paydirt right away with a great cover of “Naima” by a group called The VIG Quartet. SoundCloud has advanced search capability within Creative Commons-licensed material, so searching for tracks with the word “Coltrane” in the title, description or tags was quick and painless. I duly added SoundCloud to my page of web resources for videopoem makers at Moving Poems.