The Grave Dug by Beasts: a new videopoem by Swoon

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 12 of 12 in the series The Temptations of Solitude

 

Watch on Vimeo.

The other videopoem that my friend Marc Neys AKA Swoon surprised me with at my birthday party (see yesterday’s post) was this interpretation of a poem I’d written in response to a painting by Clive Hicks-Jenkins, one of a series of ekphrastic poems I wrote in response to his series of paintings The Temptations of Solitude. (These poems were later collected along with the work of five other poets in a beautiful little anthology called The Book of Ystwyth: Six Poets on the Art of Clive Hicks-Jenkins, and you can watch the videos of our group reading at the 2011 book launch.)

I made my own videopoem with this text back in 2012, and while I wouldn’t call it a failure, I do think it rather pales in comparison to Marc’s. Nevertheless, it’s fascinating how the creative spark originally struck by Clive continues to give rise to new works of art. As Clive himself commented when I shared the video on Facebook last month: “I love the way art begets art begets art begets art. This is hauntingly beautiful.”

Sadly, this is among the last videopoems that Marc plans to make for a while. He told me he’s taking a year off from filmmaking to concentrate on other things—especially his music. Here’s hoping that when he does go back to making poetry films, it will be with new energy and fresh perspectives on the genre. His influence over the international videopoem and poetry film scene so far has been enormous.

For what it’s worth, I’ve added this and the videos I shared yesterday to the Plummer’s Hollow Poet channel on Vimeo, which is probably the best place to browse videos made with my own poems (since I don’t share those at my site Moving Poems).

Hansel and Gretel revisited

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ Artlog:

Gretel is careful to take the Witch’s cat with them when they leave the gingerbread house, explaining to Hansel that they must be responsible for it. Later, back at home, their parents aren’t exactly pleased to see them. It has been quieter without the children, and with more food to go around too. One day Hansel comes in from playing to find the parents missing, and the cat gone too. Gretel sits next to the stove, humming while waiting for the joints to roast.

The life of a painting

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Clive Hicks-Jenkins:

A man and a woman were standing in front of my painting Green George, and he was speaking with lively enthusiasm about the work, explaining to her what the artist had been attempting in it, and the technical tricks he’d used to pull off the effects. She gazed up at him adoringly, basking in the light of his knowledge. What he had to say sounded most interesting and plausible. Even I was impressed.

Grave Dug by Beasts: The Movie, revisited

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall


Watch on Vimeo

I’m due to give a poetry reading/multimedia presentation this afternoon in State College (2:30 pm at the newly reopened Webster’s Bookstore Cafe). Among other things, I’ll be reading all eight poems from my Temptations of Solitude series while projecting images of the paintings by Clive Hicks-Jenkins that inspired them (and, of course, hawking copies of the book in which they appear). I’ll also be showing a couple of Swoon’s videopoems from the Manual series, and I wanted to pair those with a couple of videopoems of my own — whence the complete overhaul of the one video I made for the Temptations of Solitude. The footage is the same, but the soundtrack is brand new, and features a reading by Rachel Rawlins which I recorded last night over the phone, in one take, and remixed just a little (along with fragments from her muttering first go-through, which she didn’t realize I was recording).

Woodrat Podcast 43: Marly Youmans in Wales

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
Marly Youmans with an ancient yew on the grounds of Powis Castle
admiring yew #35 on the grounds of Powis Castle

Even though my friend the poet and novelist Marly Youmans lives just five hours away from me in upstate New York, we went all the way to Wales to record this podcast. How’s that for dedication? We start out at a tea house on the grounds of Powis Castle, where we’re joined by another novelist and blogger, Clare Dudman. Then we go to Ty Isaf, the stately Clive Hicks-Jenkins residence near Aberystwyth, where we talk about such topics as the ghosts of Cooperstown, New York; whether children are an inspiration or a hindrance for a busy writer; women leaving the world for the woods; and how writing in rhyme resembles surfing. We are serenaded by rooks.

Marly’s latest book of poems is The Throne of Psyche and her latest novel is Val/Orson. She blogs at The Palace at 2:00 a.m. and tweets about raspberries and radishes.

Podcast feed | Subscribe in iTunes

Theme music: “Le grand sequoia,” by Innvivo (Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike licence).

Clive Hicks-Jenkins retrospective exhibition: official opening now on video

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

I’ve shared videos of the May 6 poetry reading for The Book of Ystwyth, but the main event was the opening of Clive’s 60th birthday career retrospective exhibition at the National Library of Wales the following afternoon. And fortunately I didn’t have to worry about videoing that one; they had a professional filmmaker there to do it for them. This is the result.


Watch on YouTube.

Following Andrew Green’s introduction, Clive’s own remarks focus on the central role of place, love and community in his work:

Being a painter isn’t just about standing in the studio and making still lives and landscapes and narrative paintings. It’s about the people you surround yourself with, people who cluster around you, the people you love.

Would that all gifted artists and writers took their social obligations so seriously.

The exhibition continues through August 20th. If you’re anywhere in the U.K., don’t miss it! It’s a huge exhibition and well worth the time and effort to go see it, I think. Browse the works on Clive’s website and his blog posts about the exhibition for a preview.

The Grave Dug by Beasts (videopoem)

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 11 of 12 in the series The Temptations of Solitude

 


Watch at Vimeo.

Some footage of an anemone from the algae exhibit at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, seemed like a good fit for the first of my poems in response to Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ “Temptations of Solitude” paintings. It is of course a tricky thing to come up with film images to go with a poem that itself was a response to another, completely different image — but for that very reason, a fun challenge.

Woodrat TV: The Book of Ystwyth poetry reading

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall


The Book of Ystwyth: six poets on the art of Clive Hicks-Jenkins (part 1).


The Book of Ystwyth: six poets on the art of Clive Hicks-Jenkins (part 2).


The Book of Ystwyth: six poets on the art of Clive Hicks-Jenkins (part 3).


The Book of Ystwyth: six poets on the art of Clive Hicks-Jenkins (part 4).

In lieu of a podcast this week, here in video form is the full, hour-long poetry reading I flew to Wales to take part in last month. This was a group reading in support of The Book of Ystwyth: six poets on the art of Clive Hicks-Jenkins, whose launch coincided with a 60th birthday retrospective exhibition of, and monograph on, the contemporary Welsh artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins (who I interviewed in the two most recent episodes of the Woodrat podcast). All six of us — three Yanks and three Brits — had written poems in response to his paintings, and The Book of Ystwyth includes a generous selection, illustrated with full-color details of the paintings in question.

In the reading, ably MC’d by Damian Walford Davies, as you’ll see, each poet appears twice, once on either side of a break (which occurs in part 3), so that the first poet is also the last, the second is the penultimate, etc. Here’s a key to who appears in which video:

Catriona Urquhart (read by Clive Hicks-Jenkins and Ian Hamilton): parts 1 and 4
Andrea Selch: 1 and 4
Callum James: 2 and 4
Marly Youmans: 2 and 3
Damian Walford Davies (as reader): 2 and 3
Me: 3

Anita Mills was the camerawoman. I take the blame for the sound and all the editing. The bookstore’s set-up had the podium in shadow, which meant that the camera often focused on better-lit bookshelves behind our heads. In the process of lightening and increasing contrast on the videos, the color turned spotty, whence my decision to make it black and white. I assure viewers who have never been to Wales that it is a fully modern country now, and almost everything is in color all the time.

The Book of YstwythAs for the book: quite apart from its contents, which are of course scintillating, it’s a beautifully designed object with high-quality paper and image reproduction, retailing at a very affordable $15.95/£9.99. It was published in the U.K. by Grey Mare Press in association with Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru/The National Library of Wales, and in the U.S. by Carolina Wren Press. Click on either link to order.

Woodrat Podcast 41: A walk with Clive Hicks-Jenkins (Part 2)

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
Clive Hicks-Jenkins in context
(l-r) Clive points out hart's-tongue fern; Jack on bridge over Ystwyth; sand martin nests in the riverbank; Basil the Shetland pony; Clive in front of his painting "Green George"

The conclusion of our May 5 walk around Clive’s neighborhood in rural Wales, near Aberystwyth. (It should stand on its own, but do listen to Part 1 if you haven’t already.) I’m grateful to Clive for taking the time to show me around in the midst of frantic preparations for the launch of his retrospective exhibition just two days later (for more about which, see the series of posts on his Artlog). We’re also lucky he’s such a great communicator, because as the naive quality of my couple of questions about his painting demonstrate, my general knowledge of art is woefully inadequate. Nevertheless, somehow this walking conversation with Clive has turned into one of my most satisfying podcasts to date, I think. Give a listen.

Podcast feed | Subscribe in iTunes

Theme music: “Le grand sequoia,” by Innvivo (Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike licence).