Posts By Pam Falkenberg

REELpoetry 2019: Review and Compendium

REEL poetry/Houston TX 2019, Houston’s first international poetry film festival, produced by Public Poetry, was impressive in its inaugural year, and already promises to be back next year, and then either annually or biannually after that. The three-day event included live poetry performances, a panel discussion, and a workshop, in addition to featuring more than fifty films, ranging from documentaries and poetry films to videos extending poetry in all directions, from calligraphy and graphic design to dance and art performances, wordless narratives, concrete poetry, and abstract animation. Rather than trying to distinguish poetry films (films of poems) from film poetry (whose lineage derives from early 20th century experimental film and the “pure cinema” of dadaists and surrealists, such as Man Ray), REELpoetry advocates a big-tent approach, preferring an expansive canon rather than a narrow one.

REELpoetry’s eclectic curatorial vision produced a diverse and lively program of 36 films, some of which have already been featured on Moving Poems, or in other poetry film festivals, but also others that highlight new voices and disparate inspirations. Most of the films are available on the web, so what follows is a compendium with links, so that you can watch them in one place. When a particular film is unavailable, a link to the filmmaker/poet’s website or social media is provided instead.

The festival itself commissioned one film, which opened the cinepoetry screenings: 7 Seas, by Kyra Clegg, based on excerpts from Emily Dickinson’s poems about bodies of water.

The festival also gave out two awards with cash prizes, the judges award, which went to The Opened Field (Helmie Stills, filmmaker; Don Bury, poet), and an audience choice award, which went to I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast (Dan Sickles, filmmaker; Melissa Studdard, poet).

Houston is a diverse and eclectic city that is proud of its support for the arts, and both REELpoetry and Public Poetry benefit from that climate, enjoying strong community interest, institutional support, and grant funding. Media coverage for REELpoetry 2019 was impressive, including articles in the Houston Chronicle, Houston Public Media, and Arts and Culture Texas. The festival also provided lodging for poets/filmmakers who attended the event, and the schedule included times and places for mingling and sharing ideas. The inaugural festival set a high bar, and promises even better next year.

Cinepoetry festival program

7 Seas, Kyra Clegg, UK, artist and cinepoet
I could not locate 7 Seas on the web, but there are some short videos on her Vimeo page.

Shiver, Mark Niehus, Australia, filmmaker, composer, and poet
Watch on YouTube.

The Shadow, US, Jack Cochran and Pamela Falkenberg, filmmakers; Lucy English, UK, poet
Watch at Moving Poems.

Echoes, Finland, Hanna-Mari Ojala, cinepoet
Watch on Vimeo.

America Is Hiding Under My Bed, David Mai, director; Barbara West, performer; Julia Vinograd, poet
Watch on YouTube.

Mrigtrishna (Mirage), India, Rantu Chetia, director and poet
I could not locate this film on the web, nor much information about the filmmaker/poet, but I did learn that the film has shown at non-poetry film festivals, and located this brief write-up:

“Mumbai has been the city of dreams for ages. Millions, from every nook and corner of India, come here every day to try their luck in the film world of Bollywood. Only a handful gets their dreams realised though. The rest are left to face the harsh realities of life and the dilemma of their existence. The primary question that constantly hounds them is the motive of their life in Mumbai. The poem tries to portray this very existential query of the protagonist, who is a struggling actor and has left behind the joyous and playful life of the village,” said the director about the film.

Semechki, UK, Eta Dahlia, filmmaker; Iris Colomb, gestural drawings
Watch at Moving Poems.

Wishing Well, Canada, Mary McDonald, filmmaker; Penn Kemp, poet
Watch on YouTube.

Moments, UK, Brett Chapman, director and writer
Watch on Vimeo.

I Remember, US, Lisa Seidenberg, filmmaker
I could not locate I Remember on the web, but you can learn more about the filmmaker on her website.

As We Embrace, Taiwan, Amang Hung, filmmaker and poet
The runtime for the version shown at the festival is listed as 4:36; this longer version is available at Vimeo.

Turkey Teacher, US, David Mai, Director; Barbara West, performer and poet
Watch on YouTube.

14 Sentences, US, Carolyn Guinzio, filmmaker and poet
Watch on YouTube.

Scarce Shelter in the Red Storm, UA, Cindy St. Onge, multimedia artist
Watch on Vimeo.

Home, Ireland, David Knox, filmmaker; Erin Fornoff, poet
Watch on YouTube.

Body Language, US, Margo Stutts Toombs, filmmaker; Roslyn (Cookie) Wells, graphic artist; Lydia Hance, dancer and choreographer; Loueva Smith, poet
Watch on Vimeo.

Ice Fog, US, Vanessa Zimmer-Powell, filmmaker and poet
I could not locate this film on the web, but you can visit her Facebook page, check out her book, or hear her read a poem in Houston for National Poetry month.

I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast, US, Dan Sickles, filmmaker; Melissa Studdard, poet
Watch at Moving Poems.

A Lost Penny, France, Madeleine Clair, cinepoet
Watch on YouTube.

The Names of Trees, US, Pamela Falkenberg and Jack Cochran, filmmakers; Lucy English, UK, poet
Watch on Vimeo.

Plasticnic, Canada, Fiona Tinwei Lam, producer, narrator, and writer; Tisha Deb Pillai, animator; Tinjun Niu, sound designer
Watch on Vimeo.

The Wanderers, US, Ted Fisher, filmmaker; Aoife Lysol, poet
Watch on YouTube.

Hanging, Finland, Hanna-Mari Ojala, cinepoet
Watch on YouTube.

The Opened Field, UK, Helmie Stil, filmmaker; Dom Burt, poet
Watch at Moving Poems.

America, US, Lisa Seidenberg, filmmaker; text by Gertrude Stein
Watch at Moving Poems.

Wind and Plaster, Germany, Burak Kum, filmmaker; Nazim Hikmet Ran, poet
Watch on Vimeo.

Capricorn, UK, Eta Dahlia, filmmaker; Andrey Novikov, original score; Nik Nightingale, calligraphy
I could not locate a film with this title, but you can watch three films on Dahlia’s Vimeo page.

Silicon Valley, Canada, Mary McDonald, filmmaker; Penn Kemp, poet
Watch on YouTube.

Instructions for Soldiers Back From War, US, Jed Bell, director; David Mai, cinematography and editing; Barbara West, performer; Julia Vinograd, poet
Watch on Vimeo.

New Note, US, Ally Christmas, cinepoet
Watch on Vimeo.

Aral, UK, Eta Dahlia, filmmaker and poet
This title could not be located on the web, but the filmmaker does have a Vimeo page.

Without Distortion, Australia, Mark Niehus, director, producer, composer, and poet
Watch on YouTube.

My Cloverfield, Finland, Hanna-Mari Ojala, cinepoet
Watch on YouTube.

Untitled, US, Lisa Maione
I was unable to find this film on the web, but there is a Vimeo page, a website, and an artist’s page where you can learn more about the filmmaker.

Leisure, UK, Derk Russell, cinematographer; Al Barclay, actor; A D Cooper, writer
Watch on Vimeo.

A Family Recipe That Cannot Be Followed or Written Down, US, Elaine Zhang, Director; Tiana Wang, poet
I was unable to locate the film itself on the web, but the project does have a Facebook page.

Data poetry installation at SXSW 2019: Naho Matsuda’s Every Thing Every Time

While I was in Austin recently, I happened to see an article in Endgadget about a data poetry installation that was part of the Future Art and Culture programme of SXSW 2019. Jack Cochran and I were intrigued, so we grabbed Outlier’s camera and went out to take a look, which resulted in this short film that briefly documents the event:

What you see is a public installation of a 18×6 split flip mechanical board, which generates lines of text separated by commas and ending with a period, one set each minute, twenty-four hours a day. The installation does not ask you to figure out what it is: there is an informational plaque in front of it that you can read for yourself, and, at least at times, a SXSW attendee who, if not distracted by trying to unstick malfunctioning letters or texting on a smartphone, will offer you a brochure about it, should you seem sufficiently interested. I got one, but I did not see anyone else handed one while we were setting up and filming, which took under three hours (the maximum time on our metered parking space).

In the brochure, the North American premiere of Every Thing Every Time is described as a public realm artwork that “processes data typically captured and published by ‘smart city’ technologies, consumer devices, private and public institutions, and various media. The piece uses this data to create poetry based on your interaction with the urban environment.” The credits include the artist, Naho Matsuda; the producer, FutureEverything; industrial design and assembly by RASKL; and software by Paul Angus and Dan Hett. This is big time poetry as art, presented by British Underground, supported by Arts Council England and the British Council, part of their Anyone//Anywhere: the web at 30 season, first commissioned in Manchester (UK) as part of CityVerve — “a project creating a blueprint for smarter cities worldwide.” Every Thing Every Time is also a growing enterprise: the brochure invites “City Leaders, Cultural Organisations, Festivals, Conferences, and Digital Businesses” to commission the touring partnership of Matsuda and FutureEverything to present the installation in a new city for its next international tour date by contacting

The inaugural installation of Every Thing Every Time was in Manchester, for CityVerve, its smart city demonstrator project. There, flip dot displays, which were installed in four different Manchester locations, displayed one line of text every three seconds. Watch this slick video produced by FutureEverything to hear from the artist and to see how this worked.

The second iteration of Every Thing Every Time was installed in Newcastle, commissioned by the Great Exhibition of the North, a free celebration of Britain’s pioneering spirit in the summer of 2018, with support from FutureEverything. There the poems were generated on a more polished split flip board than at SXSW, enclosed in a transparent housing, which you can see in this short video uploaded to Vimeo by the artist.

The SXSW installation of Every Thing Every Time is the third version, again with a different, more retro industrial design. In our video, the installation’s location seems unpropitious, on a scrap piece of land backed by an unattractive plastic wrapped barrier (which separates the installation from a small park set aside as a private area for artists). In fact, the location is opposite the convention center where everyone must register/pick up badges and wristbands, and where most of the interactive events and the big tech trade show are located. It’s also right downtown and opposite the metro train stop, so there is always a lot of foot traffic.

The videos I’ve seen of the Manchester and Newcastle installations do not focus on spectator interaction with the displays, whereas our video does provide a sample, albeit small, of how people engage with the project. To that, I can add what we saw while we filmed over the course of a couple of hours: a few people walk over to the exhibit description or the poetry display itself. Most of those watch one poem or just a part of a poem. A few take a smartphone photo. A very few watch more than one poem. Occasionally, someone sits down and takes a break in front of the display. A few of those sit facing the display; more sit with their backs to it and converse with friends or watch the parade of people and traffic. The vast majority are either oblivious to the installation or give it just a passing glance as they walk by.

The reviews I’ve read of Every Thing Every Time have been uniformly positive. Some of this may be due to the context that supporting materials provided by the artist, FutureEverything, and the presenting institutions create for the installation. The SXSW brochure, in its “why data poetry” section, states,

Harnessing public art to explore the ‘Smart City,’ Naho Matsuda’s EVERY THING EVERY TIME broadcasts poetry on a mesmerizing mechanical display, urging a broader discussion on the role of data in our lives, personal privacy and our place in future cities.

The Great Exhibition of the North on their website pronounces, “the work of Naho Matsuda questions the role of data in our lives as well as its use and value.” The FutureEverything online announcement for Every Thing Every Time in Austin declares,

Through careful curation of data that describes events, from the mundane to the marvelous, life in Austin will be expressed as poetry on a mechanical split-flap display resembling the destination boards once found in railway stations. Delving into the expanding scope of data collection and the ‘smart city’, the work invites audiences to reflect on our increasingly complex relationship with technology and the global phenomenon of ‘surveillance capitalism.’

In a press release for the Manchester commission, the artist Naho Matsuda offered,

every thing every time is a piece of real-time digital writing, which is drawing from the many ‘things’ and ‘events’ and changes of ‘status’ that are constantly happening in Manchester … I have turned these data streams into narratives formatted as poems, that are stripped from their location information and any data transmitting purpose. Smart information becomes impractical poetry.

In this context, perhaps it’s no surprise that the Engadget article that led me to film the installation concluded,

As in other artist commentaries on tech, the feelings of interconnectedness compete with an unavoidable critique of surveillance — in this case, where data comes from, what little things it notices, how it encourages us to monitor each other. There’s an uneasy cognizance that outside Matsuda’s project there are smart city systems that process us as data points, and not usually just to craft poetry.

Maybe so, but I didn’t see too many signs that the audience for Every Thing Every Time was undertaking a critique of “surveillance capitalism.” Moreover, while I might respond favorably to an urgent call to consider the dangers of a world constructed according to unconsidered patterns of data collection, what I was thinking about while filming the installation was much more quotidian: Why wasn’t the integrity of words respected rather than carrying over from one line to another? Would I have guessed that the displayed lines of text were supposed to be poems if I hadn’t known in advance? Was it the commas at the end of all but the last line of each display (which ended in a period) that signified that each board of text was a single poem? How do I know that I’m reading individual poems and not one big text? How should I understand the mechanical failures that resulted in occasional misspellings and incomplete poems? When most of the poems are so banal, why should I pay attention?

The installation did make me think, but my conclusions are that I’d like to compare poems about data surveillance written by poets with the data poetry produced by Every Thing Every Time, and that I’d like Jack to write a poem commenting on the Every Thing Every Time installation that we could make into a poetry film. Maybe other poetry filmmakers should do the same. But I bet we can’t create one poem per minute!

More reading and viewing

SXSW Art Program Presents EVERY THING EVERY TIME by Naho Matsuda Producer: FutureEverything (OFFICIAL)

Press release [PDF]: Naho Matsuda heads to South by Southwest for North American premiere of her data-poetry artwork EVERY THING EVERY TIME


A short clip on Vimeo of Naho Matsuda’s EVERY THING EVERY TIME in action at Great Exhibition of the North. Produced by FutureEverything. / YouTube version

Interview on YouTube with Naho Matsuda for #GetNorth2018 / Twitter version / Facebook version

Naho Matsuda on Instagram

YouTube piece on SXSW 2019 | Arte Urbana (in Brazilian)

The Juteback Poetry Film Festival 2018: a review and compilation

The power and importance of curation is once again demonstrated by the eclectic and compelling selections included in the 2018 Juteback Poetry Film Festival, which was held at the Wolverine Farm Publishing’s Letterpress and Publick House in Ft. Collins, CO on Friday, October 19, 2018. Organizers R.W. Perkins (poet, writer, and filmmaker from Loveland, CO) and Matt Mullins (writer, musician, experimental filmmaker, and multimedia artist who teaches creative writing at Ball State University and is the mixed media editor of Atticus Review) have put together a program that surveys the breadth and depth of film poetry rather than attempting to construct or validate some narrow canon. From animated calligraphy to found footage, from flicker film techniques to metamorphosing animation, from abstracting digital layering to Hollywood narrative techniques, from dreamlike transitions and juxtapositions to post-apocalyptic mise-en-scene, from beauty in a broken world to cultural and political critique, from digital image fracturing and recombination to stark, off-balance, black-and-white compositions harking back to Man Ray, from silent film techniques to spoken word poetry, from digital remixing to music video techniques, and from preschool poets to poetic giants from the past to unpublished poets who are also filmmakers, the selections survey the state of video poetry and yet reflect the tastes and inclinations of Perkins and Mullins, who hopefully will keep this festival going for years to come.

One interesting feature of Juteback 2018 was live poetry readings by the 2018 poet laureate of Ft. Collins, Natalie Giarratano, and 2013 Ft. Collins poet laureate, Jason Hardung. If you don’t know them, both of them are poets worth exploring.

Also worth mentioning is that both Perkins and Mullins each showed one of their own poetry films to open the festival, in order to demonstrate that they are poetry film practitioners as well as curators. Perkins’ film is Visions of Snow, and Mullins’ film is One/Another.

As Perkins noted in his closing comments, most of the films in the festival are available openly, and he encouraged the festival audience to share what they liked as widely as possible. With that in mind, here are links to the poetry films (where possible), and to trailers for the films or links to the filmmakers’ websites (where the films themselves could not be found).

Perkins and Mullins are seeking to expand the audience for the Juteback Poetry Film Festival. If anyone has any suggestions, you can contact them.

(Full disclosure: Pamela Falkenberg and Jack Cochran’s The Names of Trees was one of the poetry films included in the 2018 Juteback Poetry Film Festival.)

Carolyn Rumley
One Step Away


Rita Mae Reese
Alphabet Conspiracy


Jutta Pryor
Poet Matt Dennison
The Bird


Cindy St. Onge
My Lover’s Pretty Mouth


Ellen Hemphill and Jim Haverkamp
Poet Marc Zegans
The Danger Meditations


Kate Sweeney
Poet Anna Woodford


Mohammad Enamul and Haque Kha
Poet Sadi Taif
A Vagabond Wind

(this is a 50-second trailer for the film poem)


Pam Falkenberg and Jack Cochran
Poet Lucy English
The Names of Trees


Marie Craven
Poet Matt Hetherington
Light Ghazal


Dan Douglas
Poet Paul Summers
Bun Stop


Vivek Jain
Poet Kirti Pherwani
I Don’t Know


Mark Niehus


Eduardo Yagüe
Poet Samuel Beckett
Qué Palabra


Eliot Michl
Don’t Tell Me I’m Beautiful


Gilbert Sevigny
Poet Jean Coulombe
Au Jardin Bleu (In the Blue Garden)


Lisa Seidenberg
Poet Gertrude Stein


Merissa Victor
Poet Angelica Poversky
The Entropy of Forgiveness


Kathryn Darnell
Poet Bertolt Brecht
Motto: A Poem by Bertolt Brecht
Visit her Vimeo page, where you can watch 14 videos using similar animated calligraphy techniques, though Motto is not among them.


Kidst Ayalew Abebe
Poet Femi Bájúlayé


A. D. Cooper
Home to the Hangers

(this is a 48 second trailer for the 5-minute film, which is behind a password to protect its film festival qualifications)


Luna Ontenegro, Ginés Olivares, and Adrian Fisher (mmmmmfilms collective)
Fatal When They Touch
Visit the collective’s webpage for the film (which does not include the film itself).


Jane Glennie
Poet Brittani Sonnenberg
Coyote Wedding


Nancy Kangas
Preschool Poets: An Animated Series
Visit the Vimeo page for the Preschool Poets project, which has the eight films compiled for Juteback, as well as some behind-the-scenes video.


Steven Fox
There’s a Facebook page for the local actor and filmmaker, but there does not seem to be any online link to the film.


(Special screening)

Calls for work: some traditional film festivals that welcome poetry films

About a year ago, Dave Bonta, in “A Month of Women’s Poetry Film,” mused that videopoetry perhaps wasn’t prestigious enough yet to be dominated by male voices and visions, and invited comments and stories on that, or any of the other points he raised in his essay. So far, no one has taken him up on that invitation.

However, I have noticed one sign that may indicate that videopoetry is becoming more prestigious, or at least more mainstream: increasingly, traditional film festivals are starting to invite submissions of poetry films.

Filmmakers and poets looking to expand the audience for their work may want to consider some of these festivals, and the film festival submission websites that have recently come to dominate the entry process. For now, I’m going to concentrate on a few festivals with upcoming deadlines for poetry films on the FilmFreeway platform, which some of you may be familiar with already, since the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival, the Weimar Poetry Film Award, and the Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival (among other poetry film festivals) are now listed there.

High Coast International Film Festival — the early bird deadline is September 23, 2018; several other deadlines follow until the final deadline on June 23, 2019; event dates August 30-31, 2019.

There is no special category for poetry films, but this 4th season Swedish festival seeks films with a “free voice” that experiment with the film medium “regardless of genre, thematics or method.” Their FilmFreeway page notes that they have programmed “wild experimental film poetry,” but submitters will have to pick a broader category to enter (narrative, documentary, or experimental). Fees for short films start at $10 for early bird submissions, and increase to $19 by the final deadline. The festival covers accommodations at a hotel near the festival venue for all selected filmmakers.

Grecanica International Film Festival — the early bird deadline is October 31, 2018; other deadlines follow until the extended deadline on March 31, 2019; event dates May 17-19, 2019

This Italian festival, now in its second year, is looking for films promoting “human rights, dignity, equality, lands, peoples, cultures, linguistic or historical minorities, popular and ethnic music,” including “Graekanic and and Italian minorities poetry produced anywhere in the world.” Films in languages other than Italian must be subtitled in Italian. Fees start at $20 and go up for later deadlines.

All Together Now: A Celebration of Art, Film & Music — the early bird deadline is October 4, 2018; final deadline is February 28, 2019; event dates April 26-28, 2019

This is the inaugural year for this Michigan festival that will take place in an art gallery, where they plan to bring music and short films together over two weekends for “creative exchange.” This festival accepts short films under 20 minutes in length, and has a separate category for “poetry based films.” Fees start at $15 for the early bird deadline, and increase to $20 for the final deadline.

Trenton Film Festival — the regular deadline is October 1, 2018; final deadline is November 1, 2018; event dates March 28-31, 2019

This New Jersey festival is looking for cutting edge films from anywhere in the world completed after January 1, 2018. Poetry films are included in a kind of catch-all category — “Experimental, Music Video, Spoken Word Poetry … new media.” Submissions need to be 25 minutes or less. The early bird deadline has already passed, so bargain hunters are out of luck this year. The regular deadline fee is $20, and goes up to $30 for the late deadline.

So Limitless and Free — the late deadline is November 29, 2018; event date is December 8, 2018

Now in its second year, this Quebec festival focuses on “artistic films.” The organizers are obviously big fans of Jim Morrison and the Doors — they have a category for films that “Jim Morrison would have liked,” and offer a music prize for the best Doors cover. They also offer a prize for the best instrumental music for poetry, and have a separate category for film-poetry shorts under 25 minutes. The early deadlines have already passed; the fee for the late deadline is $10.

Realtime International Film Festival — regular deadline is December 31, 2018; late deadline is March 31, 2019; event dates are June 9-15, 2019

This festival out of Nigeria, now in its fourth year, is both a film festival with live screenings and an online festival/awards event. They offer an award for best poetry, and have a separate category for filmmakers who “wish to be eligible for the best spoken word award.” The early deadline has passed; fee for the regular deadline is $40, increasing to $60 for the late deadline. This festival has ambitious aims to be the “biggest … remotely accessible Festival in Africa,” and FilmFreeway notes that it is one of their 100 best reviewed festivals (based on participants’ postings), but in terms of the poetry film world, their submission fees are high.

Motion Pictures International Film Festival — early bird deadline is December 15, 2018; final deadline is July 5, 2019; event dates August 23-24, 2019

Now in its second year, this is a touring film festival that is planned to take place in a different location each year. The first festival was held in Nigeria; perhaps the second will be held in Canada, as there is an Alberta address listed on FilmFreeway. Their website is currently under construction, and their first festival just concluded at the end of August, so more news could be coming soon. They have a separate category for poetry films; the fee is $10 for any deadline.

Versi di Luce — regular deadline is November 5, 2018; event date March 21, 2019

Now in its eleventh year, this Italian festival located Modica and Gela is dedicated to Nobel prize winning poet Salvatore Quasimodo, who was born in Modica. The theme of this festival is cinema and poetry. The festival has a fairly broad interpretation of this, since they accept features, short films, and music videos inspired by their theme, but there is also a separate category for videopoetry and video art no more than five minutes in length, which can be based on any published or unpublished poem. The entry fee is $10.

Miniature Film Festival — late deadline is October 8, 2018; event date is November 8, 2018

The theme for this Vancouver festival, now in its second year, is love. Submissions are limited to films one minute or less in length, and filmmakers are encouraged to take a “fun, broad interpretation …, such as love of something or someone, romantic love, looking for love, romantic comedy, love for or in nature, love of self, personal essay, video poetry or whatever.” The early deadlines have passed, including (alas) the earliest no fee deadline; the late deadline is $10. The festival director notes that submission fees go toward renting the venue and providing snacks for the screening.


Finally, one poetry film festival that I only discovered because I was searching FilmFreeway for the term “poetry.”

Drop of water & soap bubble — Film contest on the Poetry by Joachim Ringelnatz — regular deadline is July 15, 2019; event date October 15, 2019

Several organizations have joined together to host the fourth competition dedicated to Ringelnatz, but the call for work is spearheaded by the Society for Contemporary Poetry in Leipzig. Ringelnatz is the pen name for artist and author Hans Botticher; according to Wikipedia, he is “best known for his wry poems, often using word play and sometimes bordering on nonsense poetry.” Participants can choose any of Ringelnatz’s poems, but the call for works notes that there is an audiobook of 39 selected poems (which includes five poems in English) that can be purchased and used optionally. There is no submission fee, but submitters must register on competition website, which will trigger an email with the exact competition conditions in an attachment. There are a variety of monetary and other prizes involved, some of them substantial.


There are other film festival submission platforms besides FilmFreeway. If you’re interested in learning, here is one review article on the web that covers ten different platforms to get you started.

I’ve mainly worked the the two biggest platforms — FilmFreeway and Withoutabox. Withoutabox was the early standout; now that it has been integrated with Amazon and its sub-companies CreateSpace and IMDb, it remains the favorite of the largest film festivals, such as Sundance, Toronto, and Ann Arbor. CreateSpace does offer filmmakers opportunities to sell DVD’s or VOD on demand. FilmFreeway is the fast-growing newcomer that worked hard to sidestep all the criticisms faced by Withoutabox, and now hosts the vast majority of the smaller, less expensive festivals. I use both, because some festivals only use one or the other. One advantage of FilmFreeway for me is that you can update a project file very easily if you make editing changes. This is much more difficult on WIthoutabox.

Many poetry film festivals still use their own entry forms, or offer their own entry forms in addition to using FilmFreeway. Many poetry film festivals still offer free submissions. If it’s true that poetry film is becoming more mainstream, it is perhaps good to remember that that change will come with risks as well as benefits. In particular, in the larger independent film world, it’s hard to know what festivals are really a good match for a film when the databases are so large. FilmFreeway currently has 6960 festivals in its open and closed database, with 2471 currently open for submissions. Of those, 191 festivals are fee-free. In the larger film festival world, most filmmakers pay entry fees, throwing a lot of expensive darts to hit a very few targets. The only other alternative is to rely on social media, but only a few films go viral, and quality curation is in short supply. Thankfully, the videopoetry and poetry film community can rely on, and as well as on all the websites and blogs cataloged on the Moving Poems’ list of links.

National Poetry Library Instagram Poetry Film Winners

The world’s first Instagram poetry exhibition ran from Thursday, April 26 to Sunday, July 1, 2018 at the UK’s National Poetry Library. Jane Glennie, whose Being and Being Empty — previously posted to Moving Poems — was one of the fifteen filmpoem winners included in the exhibit, was kind enough to share a program [PDF] with me when I noticed a photo of it in a brief news post about the exhibit on her website. That program is the source of the list of winners below. I have added links to play the films, since it’s a daunting task to search for them on the individual Instagram pages, or among the 1,771 posts (as of 28 July 2018) to #instapoetrylib on, which is where all the entries are archived, and which is still active, if you would like to contribute a film even though the contest has ended; some of the more recent posts to be found on #instapoetrylib are photographs documenting the exhibit rather than new poems.

The winning films were apparently announced via comments/DMs on the individual Instagram posts. At the exhibit, the films were on a screen on a continual loop, while the selected image poems were exhibited on the walls. After having spent some time reviewing the films posted to #instapoetrylib, I believe that the 15 selected poetry films were chosen to represent the breadth and variety of work posted to Instagram — from films of poets reciting their poems, to spoken word performance films, to Instagram as poetry notebook, to found poetry films, animated poetry films, and the kinds of film poems Moving Poems typically celebrates.

Poets were only supposed to submit one entry per person, but many of the poets and the National Poetry Library itself did not appear to have taken this rule seriously. Some of the winners submitted more than one entry, and one winner subverted the Instagram video limits by submitting a longer film in two parts. Of the 1771 entries, there are approximately 114 poetry film postings (of which 44 were submitted by one poster,

Here are the winning films, listed in order from the exhibition program. (Readers of this post via feed readers or the email newsletter may have to click through to Moving Poems Magazine to watch the videos.)

NHS Crisis by Thomas ‘GhettoGeek’ Owoo (@ghettogeektv)

This might be the Instagram version he submitted to the contest. This link is to a pinned post on the GhettoGeek twitter page, which includes a link to the complete 4:31 version on YouTube.

A slam or spoken word reading style combines with dynamic graphics and imagery in politically powerful ways. Owoo has produced a number of variant works on this and other subjects on his YouTube channel and a range of social media sites.

A Spring Day by Annabel Wilson (@annabelwilsonart)

This is the post on her Instagram page announcing that her film was selected to show in the exhibition. This link is to the film on her Facebook page.

When she first posted the film to Instagram, she commented: “I wrote a poem last week on one of the first spring-like mornings- it came from that feeling that walking out on a clear morning gives, just as the sun comes up in all of its glory. It’s a sunrise, dawn poem, but also a hope and happiness poem. I have created this simple animation as a different kind of way to share it on World Poetry Day!”

The Art of Narcissism by Akora @parthenocarpy
This is the only video posted to on her Instagram page. This is a link to the performance button on her Instagram page about performing at the National Poetry Library exhibit opening.

For many of the poets posting on Instagram, a film documents the performance of a poem, as does this one.

Being and Being Empty by Jane Glennie (@jane_glennie)

Above is the film on her Instagram page; this is the film on her Vimeo page.

Her description of the film: “How to be a mother … who is this being that I am? Wanting to be half-full with the joy of play, a job well done, and the softness of a bed to sink into at the end. Feeling half-empty with a busy brain that won’t shut down and twitches into awakening too early. Feeling overwhelmed by the chores and feeling rubbish as a result because surely that’s really not important. Tossing and turning and struggling to make a zingy start to each new day.”

A flicker film technique is a visceral representation of both the delight in and the fragmented and distracted attention of motherhood.

Boob Haiku by Fatima Al Rayes (@fatimaspoems)
Here’s the film on her Instagram page. It is the only post on the page.

A film Fatima describes as “a haiku” documents the performance of writing out the poem and making a simple illustration using time compression.

Dice by Annie Rockson (@gyallikeannie)

This is the film on her Instagram page. Here it is on her YouTube page.

A filmed performance of a spoken word poet, “Dice,” “black dots trapped in a white box,” is a trope for the various traps that constrain black lives behind “a smokescreen of racial equality.”

En Silencio by Charles Olsen (@colsenart)

This is the film on Olsen’s Instagram page. Here’s his website.

Charles Olsen translates his poem from Spanish to English in the comments on his Instagram post: “In silence/water trickles down the bark/Leaves shine/like a flight of fish/and the forest/becomes a black sea/Like you/when we are together.” His spare film consists of close shots of the bark, leaves, and forest described in the poem in superimposed titles, but makes no attempt to depict the black sea of the relationship, which he leaves to our imagination.

Esprit Ya Pouvoire by Vid’or Tampa (@PTPlays)
This is the film on her Instagram page.

Another filmed spoken-word performance, this one in honor of International Women’s Day. The comments on the Instagram post provide a translation of the poem to English: And the one who birthed you./And the one who fed you milk./And the one who made you laugh when sadness got into your heart./And the one who cooked porridge for you./And the one who fed you fufu./And the one who carried you on her back/ in her arms./And the one who stood you up each time you fell./And the one who taught you./And the one who wiped away your tears.
And the one who encouraged you;/Gave you advice./And the one who stands up for you./And the one who makes you laugh./And the one who shows you love./And the one who has faith in you./And the one who beats her chest for you./ And the one who sings for you./Bredrin, look left and look right. /She is there and we are all there. /You have grown up in the spirit of power./Recognise us. 

Kaki by Sheena Baharudin (@sheenabaharudin)
The film as it appears on Naharudin’s Instagram page.

Her comments when she posted the Instagram film: “Today is World Poetry Day! Submitting this bilingual piece for the #instapoetrylib call made by the @nationalpoetrylibrary . Inspired by the Zapin, a traditional Malay dance that focuses on the movement of the feet. Fyi, if the words sound familiar, it’s because this is the performed version of my previous #swipeleftpoetry post. Check them out.”

The tight fixed frame that cannot contain the dancing feet work in dialectic with the poem in what is another meditation on the joys and constraints of motherhood.

Public House by Laurie Bolger (@lauriebolger)

The film on Instagram. Here’s the link to Bolger’s website.

“A little poem about pubs” is how the author described this when she posted it, and it does have the casual feel of a cellphone film.

Love Loving by Sanah Ahsan (@psychology_and_poetry)
Her poem on Instagram.

Another film that documents a poet reading her poem. Sanah comments on her Instagram post, “Tonight has been incredible. I performed a piece that explored culture, mental health and identity as part of an upcoming @bbcthree documentary. Such a BLESSING to listen to and share honest stories about #mentalhealth in the #lgbtcommunity. Thank you for having me.”

Somewhere, Nowhere by Mark J. Rigby @filmmaker_markjrigby
These are the links to the film on his Instagram page; the film was submitted in two parts. This is the link to his website.

In his comments on the Instagram post, Rigby notes that he wrote, performed and directed this film, which he describes as a “spoken word video … borne out of volunteer work for acting and drama workshops centred on homeless and vulnerable adults.” However, he does not film himself reciting his poem, and his piece has more of the feel of a music video.

Southwark Love Song by Claire Trevién (@ctrevien)

The film on her Instagram page. This is her poetry website.

In her comments, Trevién describes her piece as a “#poetryfilm of #foundpoetry collected around Southwark, London Bridge, etc.” This in one of a series of her poetryfilms that find a poem in the camera framing of portions of street signs, names of buildings, advertisement art, and more. The sound is whatever the camera mic records in real time. The technique is tantalizing, and certainly permits the intentional roughness of execution.

MAN by Tommy Evans (@tommya_manevans)

This is the film on #instapoetrylib. I believe this is the film on his Instagram page, although I don’t see either #instapoetrylib or @nationalpoetrylibrary in the comments.

Here is a longer version on his YouTube page; both of the Instagram films appear to be excerpts from the longer work. Here’s a post on his Twitter page about his film being exhibited at the National Poetry Library.

A spoken word poet performance that uses the jarring contrasts between medium shots and tight close-ups to suggest the contradictions in the social construction of masculinity.

We be in No Thing by Jason Kofi-Haye (@surf._ace)

This is the poem as it appears on #instapoetrylib. I could not locate this version on his Instagram page, but there are many variants of this work, which is an instance of a year-long project to use Instagram as a kind of artist’s sketch pad. This tendency to post variants, works-in-progress, and rough drafts is a strategy he uses not only on his Instagram page, but also on his other web and social media sites. To see more examples, search Instagram for #WeBeinNoThing.

And finally, one possible winner who got notified, but apparently wasn’t exhibited:

Receipt for our Romance, by Jade Cuttle (@jadecuttle)

That’s the film as it appears at #instapoetrylib.

The poem is represented as a cash register receipt, which the camera simply scrolls down. I find the technique quite clever, albeit probably unrepeatable.

More information on the National Poetry Library exhibit

There have been four posts on the National Poetry Society website: Instagram poetry; Celebrating Instagram Poetry at National Poetry Library; Instagram poetry is here – find out more in our podcast; and A new generation of poets emerges on Instagram. This last post, in which Jessica Atkinson, the National Poetry Library’s Digital Co-ordinator, discusses four of the Instagram poems included in the exhibition and what makes them stand out, is particularly interesting, since it provides some insight into the curation process.

And finally, stay tuned to the blog at, which promises a review of the exhibition.

For more information about Instagram poets and poetry, here is a brief online bibliography:

Voices of the new ‘Instagram poets’ | Financial Times

The Life of an Instagram Poet | The New Yorker

Why Rupi Kaur and Her Peers Are the Most Popular Poets in the World | New York Times

The Poetry of Instagram | BBC Radio 4

Can Instagram Make Poems Sell Again? | Publishers Weekly

12 Instagram Poets to follow | HuffPost
Is It OK To Make Fun Of Instagram Poets? | Luna Luna Magazine

Instagram poets society: selfie age gives new life and following into poetry | The Guardian

And finally, an interview with Marisa Crane, who says,

I didn’t necessarily mean to cultivate such a large Instagram following. It all happened pretty organically, and I think it helps that I began posting my work right before the boom of Instagram poetry (which is going downhill now, and fast). I can remember sitting on my couch in 2012 reading a poem by Tyler Knott Gregson, which had been typed on a typewriter. He had thousands of likes on a piece that was, in my opinion, pretty basic. Not to say that it wasn’t intriguing or good, but it was short and easily digestible, which made it perfect for people scrolling quickly. I figured I’d take a stab at it, so I began posting some of my shorter poems on my Instagram, which had about 300 followers at the time. I even forgot to put my name under a few of them. For a while, nothing happened, and I didn’t care. I wasn’t posting to become Instagram famous. Then, I think sometime in 2014 some bigger poetry accounts, like Christopher Poindexter, began reposting my work, and it snowballed from there. I don’t particularly enjoy the medium anymore, as I feel that it’s on its way out. Instagram changed their algorithm, and it hurt engagement for a lot of people. I’m basically just riding it out until it becomes null and void.

Read the complete interview on Bekah Steimel’s blog. (Thanks to Dave Bonta for the link.)

There might be something in this: Maybe today everyone wants to be a poet, just like everyone wants to be a filmmaker. But when there are 5,000 submissions to some film festivals for the 60 or 70 spots available for films to be screened, maybe there is also something to be said for being able to post poems or films to social media sites, despite the overwhelming numbers that soon cry out for curation by means other than the viral. I believe Moving Poems is a valuable community in that regard.