My own videopoems, plus videos made by other people for poems that originally appeared at Via Negativa. This is a sub-category of Poems & poem-like things, but posts are also cross-listed to Video (which contains a few non-poetry-related videos, too). I maintain a separate blog devoted to videopoetry: Moving Poems.
A new videopoem using footage that Rachel shot from the Amtrak back in December. Do read her blog post about that journey, which includes a different clip from the same footage. I particularly liked this observation:
Trees! So many trees, their leaf-free branches strobing the setting sun when it was behind them, turning pink gold when it shone on them, revealing the geological contours through their branches of the land on which they grow.
Landscape scenes shot from moving trains or cars are so common in videopoetry, they’re almost a cliche, but this is a new variation on that theme, I think.
A new videopoem. I’m grateful to Marc Neys for composing the original soundtrack (in response to a draft form of the video).
The poem is presented as text-on-screen, in a kind of call-and-response fashion, and was inspired by the footage, which I shot on my aging iPhone this summer. So I hesitate to extract it from that context, but here it is nevertheless for the benefit of those with impaired vision:
It is still light where I sit
reading the lines you are touch-
typing in the dark.
The planet’s curves
are always coming between us
her ceaseless spinning
her magnetic field
her core of molten rock.
But it’s the state that says stop
behind arbitrary lines
the border force that says stand still
for security screening
and if you’re poor, stay out.
The earth is always knitting
us together. Her forces
are centripetal and convergent.
Even now she works to mend
each fraying thread.
Changes of State. That’s the working title of my book-length manuscript of prose + micropoetry, which draws equally upon my lived experience, dreams, and nightmares. In the last category, I have a section of seven untitled found texts from the CIA’s Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual, which was used to train right-wing counter-insurgency interrogators throughout Latin America during the last and most brutal phase of the Cold War. I extract a haiku-length erasure poem or two from each text and place them below it, haibun-style. Last month, an online journal called The Other Bunny, which specializes in experimental haibun, published a selection of these under the title “Human Resources.” Then two days ago, the Australian multimedia artist Marie Craven surprised me with this damn-near perfect video version. I strongly recommend expanding it to full screen and using good headphones:
Marie describes it on Vimeo as “A video about mind control and hidden meanings.”
The original text here is sections of a CIA document from the 1980s, concerning mind control techniques. […] The video is made up substantially of this text on screen, overlaid on a delirious blend of movie images from the Prelinger Archives. I chose to ‘mash up’ two different films for this background. The first, and most visually recognisable, is ‘Duck and Cover’, a famous documentary film from the 1950s containing advice on how to take cover in the event of a nuclear blast. The second film is ‘Destination Earth’, an anti-communist animation also produced in the 1950s. Both films were ‘doubled up’, making four superimposed layers, sped up considerably, with some parts appearing in forward motion, others in reverse, and some images rotating so that they appear at odd angles throughout the piece. The rapid melee of images is designed to express the hallucinatory effect of mental confusion engendered by mind control. The music is a psychedelic piece by The Night Programme (aka Paul Foster), with whom I’ve collaborated musically for over a decade, all via the net (he’s in Wales, I’m in Australia). The track is entitled ‘Cxx2’, from his album, ‘Backup 010318’. In a contemporary sense, the poem and video seem timely in this era of rampant fake news and unabashed propaganda.
Human Resources is Marie’s fifth videopoem based on my poetry. This is the sort of collaboration the web was built for, I think, and it’s always deeply gratifying to me as a writer to have been able to inspire an artist of Marie’s caliber.
Swoon (aka Marc Neys) is a Belgian video-artist and soundcreator who is, in the words of Dave Bonta, one of the most “prolific and (obviously) fast-moving, …one of the most inventive and interesting artists working in the medium” today. I have so much respect for his work, and also the great good fortune of having Swoon produce a book trailer for my new collection out this week from Phoenicia Publishing, The Buddha Wonders if She is Having a Mid-Life Crisis.
I am also eternally grateful to Via Negativa founder and co-blogger Dave Bonta for making possible the connection to Swoon and a host of other creatives all over the world. It’s going on the eighth year of my daily poetry writing practice at Via Negativa— let me just say that when I started, I couldn’t even imagine how many full length collections and chapbooks would come out of it.
This is the book trailer that Swoon (Marc Neys) produced. I hope you enjoy it, and that you will follow more of his work and visit his blog. Please also visit Phoenicia Publishing for information on how to order the book.
Nicanor Parra, far from imaginary, was all too real, according to David Unger in the Paris Review blog — though Alejandro Zambra, writing in the New Yorker, did call the Chilean poet, who died on January 23 at the age of 103, “almost immortal.” The English-language Wikipedia refers to him as
a Chilean poet, mathematician, and physicist. He was considered an influential poet in Chile and throughout Latin America. Parra described himself as an “anti-poet,” due to his distaste for standard poetic pomp and function; after recitations he would exclaim “Me retracto de todo lo dicho” (“I take back everything I said”).
I’ve always admired his work as a useful corrective for extreme lyricism and romanticism, but as the following demonstrates, his poems could still pack quite a punch. This appears in a 1985 collection with a punning title, Hojas de Parra (Grape Leaves or Pages from Parra).
The Imaginary Man
The imaginary man
lives in an imaginary mansion
surrounded by imaginary trees
on the banks of an imaginary river
On the imaginary walls
imaginary old paintings hang
imaginary irreparable cracks
that represent imaginary events
occuring in imaginary worlds
in imaginary times and places
Every afternoon an imaginary afternoon
he climbs the imaginary stairs
and leans out the imaginary balcony
to gaze at the imaginary view
which consists of an imaginary valley
encircled by imaginary hills
advance down the imaginary road
singing imaginary songs
for the death of the imaginary sun
And on imaginary moonlit nights
he dreams of the imaginary woman
who gave him his imaginary love
once again feeling that same pain
that same imaginary pleasure
and that imaginary man’s heart
once again throbs
El hombre imaginario
El hombre imaginario vive en una mansión imaginaria rodeada de árboles imaginarios a la orilla de un río imaginario
De los muros que son imaginarios penden antiguos cuadros imaginarios irreparables grietas imaginarias que representan hechos imaginarios ocurridos en mundos imaginarios en lugares y tiempos imaginarios
Todas las tardes tardes imaginarias sube las escaleras imaginarias y se asoma al balcón imaginario a mirar el paisaje imaginario que consiste en un valle imaginario circundado de cerros imaginarios
Sombras imaginarias vienen por el camino imaginario entonando canciones imaginarias a la muerte del sol imaginario
Y en las noches de luna imaginaria sueña con la mujer imaginaria que le brindó su amor imaginario vuelve a sentir ese mismo dolor ese mismo placer imaginario y vuelve a palpitar el corazón del hombre imaginario
Luisa’s poem from last Saturday seemed like a good match for a video I shot on my iPhone through the dusty window of a Greyhound bus as I was leaving Newark, New Jersey on Monday. The light was wonderful and evocative, as were the murals on the wall below the train tracks.
Footage shot from car, bus and (especially) train windows is exceedingly common in videopoetry, but I’m hoping my use of moving text saves this instance of it from cliche.
A quick, silent videopoem made with text-on-screen from the latest erasure poem. I’m indebted to a friend, Rachel Shaw, for commenting on the footage I’ve used here — a shot of London’s Notting Hill Carnival, which I posted to Facebook last night — that it was “weirdly beautiful with the sound off. Like anemones and seaweeds waving in the current.”
This comment was much in my mind as I selected lines for the erasure poem, which lo and behold turned out to be just the right length for a half-minute video. Enjoy.
During a visit to Kew Gardens the other week, I was charmed by the interactions of the visitors — a highly multi-ethnic crowd — with an installation called The Hive, by artist Wolfgang Buttress, which is designed to raise consciousness about the plight of bees and other pollinators. Looking at the videos I shot on my hand-me-down iPhone, I was reminded of an old poem-like thing that seemed to complement the footage rather well, which I later supplemented with a couple of other shots from Tate Modern. After extensive tinkering, I decided that the best soundtrack was simply the audio I’d picked up at The Hive, which generated a kind of ambient soundscape “triggered by bee activity in a real beehive at Kew.” Unfortunately, the gardens are right under the flight path of jets landing at Heathrow, but given the subject matter of the videopoem, that noise didn’t seem entirely out-of-place.