Cuba, Coltrane, and videotape

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall


Watch on VimeoWatch on YouTube

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?

Process notes

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.

Link roundup: Cloud Studies, Nabokov’s blues, beech trees and other curiosities

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

I share a lot of links on Facebook. This is some of what I’ve shared since last Monday, with the exception of links to new posts on qarrtsiluni, Moving Poems, Woodrat Photoblog, The Morning Porch, and here on VN. (Have to wonder how many of my Facebook contacts have blocked my posts by now!)

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Poetry for the Masses has a new website with PDFs of recent broadsheets. These aren’t the arty kind of broadsheets that cost $40 apiece, but the true, 18th-century kind designed for mass distribution.

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Cloud Studies — a sonnet sequence
Take a half-hour to listen to these extraordinary poems by Christine Klocek-Lim, Whale Sound’s most impressive audio chapbook yet. (And that’s saying a lot, because the first two also kicked ass.)

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Treeblog: Festival of the Trees 56
What is it about trees that evokes such interesting responses from such a broad range of people?

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New York Times: “Nabokov Theory on Polyommatus Blue Butterflies Is Vindicated” by the always wonderful Carl Zimmer. “Nabokov was right – so was Stephen Jay Gould wrong?” asks Jessica Palmer at Bioephemera. Yes, turns out he was. Which makes me happy, because Gould was a very over-rated writer and a pompous ass.

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The Onion: “Republicans Vote To Repeal Obama-Backed Bill That Would Destroy Asteroid Headed For Earth”
To me, this is masterful satire not because it makes Republicans look like bigger fools than Democrats, but because it so effectively skewers the absurd and narcissistic parochialism of American politics.

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Voice Alpha: “To read or to recite?”
My simple question about public poetry performance theory elicits a number of quite varied and passionate responses.

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the cassandra pages: “Down for the Gender Count…or is it Up?”
Beth Adams finds that qarrtsiluni’s gender gap continues to widen. She quotes me on the importance of having a schlong.

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Poetry Daily: “Naked I Come, Naked I Go,” by Marilyn Chin
If you’re a fan of the late poet Ai, check out this wonderful tribute/imitation by Marilyn Chin. (The last lines are a reference to the fact that Ai never learned to drive.)

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Marcia Bonta: “The Beautiful Beech”
My mom’s monthly nature column. For once, she picked a subject I had no trouble illustrating with my own photos — one of my favorite trees.

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(watch on YouTube)
The ultimate annoying little sister (brother?). This is one of the latest captures from the den cam in Minnesota, showing an unusual multi-age black bear family (Hope is one year old, her siblings just a couple weeks old).

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Writing Our Way Home is a new online community I’ve joined. Founded by British blogger, novelist, and writing coach Fiona Robyn and her fiance Kaspalita, a Buddhist priest and the resident tech guru, it’s for people interested in writing with attention, especially in the form they call “small stones“: “short pieces of writing that precisely capture a fully-engaged moment.” Since this is obviously something I’ve been trying to do at The Morning Porch for quite some time, I couldn’t not join, despite feeling already a bit over-committed online. The site uses Ning, and has most of the same functionality as Facebook, only easier to figure out: groups, forums, personal pages with walls (and blogs), etc. Do join if this interests you. I’ve been interacting with Fiona online for quite a few years, and she even edited an issue of qarrtsiluni once for us — the only solo editor ever to do so — so I am fairly confident in predicting that this community will still be around five years from now if she has anything to do with it.

Voice Alpha

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

I’ve been roped into invited to become a contributing author at Nic S.’s new companion site to Whale Sound called Voice Alpha, “a repository for thoughts, theories, suggestions, likes and dislikes and anything else related to the art and science of reading poetry aloud for an audience.”

The idea came out of our conversation last week, though I didn’t expect Nic to jump on it right away! But jump she has, and I am only the first of what I hope will be a whole posse of regular contributors. Check out in particular “Why don’t they teach us to read & What makes a poetry reading fail?” and “On looking (or not) at your audience when you read poetry.” If you have any reflections on the art of reading poetry, either as reader or as audience, we’d love to hear from you.