A small, volunteer sunflower growing alongside the footpath between my house and my folks’ house has attracted a huge following, from mordelid beetles to flea beetles to some kind of plant bug that lurk on the back side. Add to that the small wasps and bees coming in for shorter visits, and it’s quite a happening little scene.
That’s what tempted me to stand out in the sun for ten minutes yesterday evening videoing it. But when I brought up the clips on my desktop monitor, it was the sun-struck footage rather than the footage focused more on the insects that seemed the most striking. I hadn’t had anything specific in mind when I shot it, but I picked up my copy of Nic S.‘s book Forever Will End On Thursday and quickly found a nearly perfect fit: the poem “homesteader,” which begins:
I step into the heat
as into a dress
the sun fits me, it is
and the heat is
Every time I make a videopoem, even one as simple as this, I feel I learn something new. This time, I discovered that the natural sound from the video itself made a perfectly satisfactory soundtrack, as long as I was careful, in my couple of splices, not to cut off the field sparrow in mid-song. I’m also refining my technique for massaging the poetry reading. In general, I find it necessary to lengthen the spaces between phrases when adapting a sound recording for use in a videopoem, in order to counteract the distraction-effect of the video images and give the words time to sink in. Nic’s readings lend themselves especially well to this kind of spacing, since her readings are already slower and more clearly articulated than most other people’s. On the other hand, there’s nothing that says a viewer or listener has to catch every word on the first listen. We certainly don’t have that expectation with music!
This is my third video so far for a poem by Nic S.. In case you missed them, the other two were “on being constantly civil towards death” and “the wanderers’ blessing.” Two other videos used Nic’s readings (originally recorded for Whale Sound): “hollow” (text by Peter Stephens — possibly my best videopoem to date) and “A Bigfoot Poem,” Nic’s rendering of one of my own pieces.