~ Book trailers ~

cipher by Chris Turnbull

An author-made videopoem by Canadian poet Chris Turnbull based on a selection from her latest book of poetry. Here’s the publisher’s description from Beautiful Outlaw Press:

In cipher “the kids refuse the forest.” Beginning here, the poem amplifies outward from nature into built cyber realities and ecological catastrophe.

How does language mediate our changing relationship with nature amid an exploding virtual environment? What corporeal landscapes are left to us to explore and experience? Do we want to? How is language transposed to encourage new modes and to placate loss and change?

cipher invites us to consider cyber as a surrounding and a frontier. Navigation is coded.

The book will be launched via Zoom on Tuesday, April 2nd, 8:00-9:00 PM EDT, alongside two new translations of Celan. Use this link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/87236206439?pwd=aeS9T7MFp7z5BQh1buQFvIKr8ucu34.1 and passcode 024558.

Tasting Notes by Matthew Stewart

This is one of the best, most satisfying films based on a poetry collection that I’ve seen. It was made in 2013 in support of a pamphlet (chapbook) of the same title from Happenstance Press. The poems are clearly differentiated, yet blend pretty seamlessly into a whole, with shots of the poet in a vineyard as part of the connective tissue. British poet Matthew Stewart collaborated with Spanish filmmaker José María Fernández de Vega of GLOW production company in Extramadura, where Stewart works in the wine trade. It’s hard to imagine a more poetic vocation! And since the speaker in each poem is a different variety of wine, and they’re all delivered in the poet’s own voice, it’s as if we’re hearing missing metamorphoses out of Ovid.

A while back I compiled my Top Ten Multi-Poem Films and Videopoems. This would certainly have occupied a prominent position in the list had it been available at the time. Conservative as the choice of images is, they rarely feel overly obvious. And Stewart’s voiceover is well done: readerly, but with excellent cadence and modulation. I’d have preferred somewhat less melodic music by way of contrast, but otherwise there were no false notes for me among these very tasty words and images.

Childhood’s End by Howie Good

I LOVE this new videopoem! Belgian artist-composer Marc Neys (aka Swoon) is of course a Moving Poems regular, as is retired journalism professor Howie Good — one of the most productive poets I know. The fit of images to words hits that sweet spot half-way between random and literal, and the font seems chosen for maximum contrast in feeling with the dark content of the text.

The video does double duty as a trailer for Good’s new collection, a chapbook/pamphlet from Laughing Ronin Press called Heart-Shaped Hole.

“Hunger” and “What I Did” from The Echo Chamber by Michael Bazzett


From filmmaker Sherng-Lee Huang and actress Veronika Nowag-Jones, whom Huang calls “a stalwart of German cinema and stage,” these two trailers for The Echo Chamber by Michael Bazzett each feature a complete, short poem from the collection. US independent literary publisher Milkweed Editions has been producing video trailers off and on for the better part of a decade. As anecdotal evidence for their effectiveness, I ordered a copy of The Echo Chamber before I even finished posting this! Here’s the publisher’s page for it.

Hat-tip: Sean Thomas Dougherty on Twitter.

Memoir in Bone & Ink (#1) by Kristy Bowen

The first in a projected series of author-made videopoems for Kristy Bowen’s upcoming collection Memoir in Bone & Ink. As a publisher herself (dancing girl press), Bowen’s relationship with books is more hands-on than the average poet’s, and that’s what drew me to this videopoem: the bibliocentric images and text come from a place of deep knowledge. The result is a poetry book trailer that feels like a commentary on book promotion generally, the author trying to coax a book out from under the covers.

Here’s the bio Bowen used for the YouTube description:

A writer and book artist working in both text and image, Kristy Bowen creates a regular series of chapbook, zine, and artist book projects. Since 2005, she has blogged about writing, art, and other creative pursuits at dulcetly: notes on a bookish life. She is the author of eleven full-length collections of poetry/prose/hybrid work, including the recent SEX & VIOLENCE (Black Lawrence Press, 2020), and the self-issued ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MONSTER; DARK COUNTRY; and FEED.

Arrival at Elsewhere (extract) by Karen Dennison, Carl Griffin et. al.

A filmpoem by Karen Dennison, who also supplied the voiceover. The text was written by Jemma Borg, Annie Butler, Kerry Darbishire, Catherine Fletcher, Bashabi Fraser, Carl Griffin, Philip Gross, Chrys Salt, and Alina Stefanescu. Here’s the YouTube description:

Arrival at Elsewhere is a book length long poem response to the pandemic, curated by one poet, Carl Griffin, but written by 97. This is an extract from the book. It’s published by Against the Grain poetry press and available to buy at https://againstthegrainpoetrypress.wordpress.com/arrival-at-elsewhere/

From the description at that link:

Poets from across the world speak in one voice in response to 2020’s life-changing pandemic. Not a definitive voice, nor an authoritative one. But a contrasting, contradicting, confused voice, set both in the UK and everywhere else, represented by one narrator who, just like the rest of us, is made up of a hundred different people. A narrator cohesive only in his/her/their contemplation of Elsewhere.

A Better Place is Hard to Find: two poems by Aaron Fagan


We’re always keen to showcase book trailers that take the form of videopoems. Here are two very different but equally compelling, brief animations by multidisciplinary artist Camilla Ha for poems in Aaron Fagan’s new collection, A Better Place Is Hard to Find (The Song Cave, 2020): “The Good Light” and “Quietus.”

Aaron Fagan has been an active proponent of videopoetry for as long as I’ve been publishing Moving Poems—nearly 12 years now—sometimes collaborating with filmmakers, sometimes making videos himself. So it’s no surprise that he would have not one, but two films for his first full-length poetry collection since 2010.

The Actual / Fuck by Inua Ellams

This animated typography film by Jamie MacDonald is a trailer for Inua Ellams‘ forthcoming collection. In a blog post yesterday, he wrote:

It gives me the greatest pleasure to share with you the trailer for The Actual / Fuck. This poem is made up of all the titles in the collection, essentially a list poem in its own right. It was put together by Jamie MacDonald (who created the trailer for An Evening With An Immigrant) and shows his incredible skills and attention to detail.

Don’t forget, you can pre-order the collection right now from Penned In The Margins.

And from that latter link, here’s the publisher’s description:

The Actual is a symphony of personal and political fury — sometimes probing delicately, sometimes burning with raw energy.

In 55 poems that swerve and crackle with a rare music, Inua Ellams unleashes a full-throated assault on empire and its legacies of racism, injustice and toxic masculinity. Written on the author’s phone, in transit, between meetings, before falling asleep and just after waking, this is poetry as polemic, as an act of resistance, but also as dream-vision. At its heart, this book confronts the absolutism and ‘foolish machismo’ of hero culture-from Perseus to Trump, from Batman to Boko Haram.

Through the thick gauze of history, these breathtaking poems look the world square in the face and ask, “What the actual—?”

sex & violence #2 | honey machine by Kristy Bowen

It’s always great to see a poet making her own book trailers — I mean, it’s even better to see poetry presses doing that for their poets, but for most, that’s not part of the deal, I guess. What’s cool about Kristy Bowen is that she’s also a publisher, running the chapbook press Dancing Girl Press, and skills she’s honed there as an artist and graphic designer stand her in very good stead on her first foray into videopoetry production. Let me just paste in the YouTube description:

sex & violence
by Kristy Bowen
(Black Lawrence Press, 2020)

A writer and book artist working in both text and image, Kristy Bowen is the author of a number of chapbook, zine, and artists book projects, as well as several full-length collections of poetry/prose/hybrid work, including the recent salvage (Black Lawrence Press, 2016), major characters in minor films (Sundress Publications, 2015) and girl show (Black Lawrence, 2014). She lives in Chicago, where she runs dancing girl press & studio

This is the second of three videos so far that Kristy has made based on excerpts from sex & violence; you can watch them all on her YouTube channel. As she noted in her blog, for honey machine, “I’ve been playing a bit more with public domain footage and my own words..this time, a little more text oriented and without the distraction of my own voice.”

Plasticpoems by Fiona Tinwei Lam

A brilliant concrete videopoem directed and produced by Canadian poet Fiona Tinwei Lam with animation by Nhat Truong and sound design by Tinjun Niu. The Vimeo description notes that

This short animated video depicts two concrete/visual poems by poet Fiona Tinwei Lam from her collection of poems Odes & Laments about marine plastic pollution.

It won the Judges’ Award for Best Poetry Video, REELpoetry Houston 2020, which is how I knew about it: I was one of those judges.

Scarcely Gilded by Lina Ramona Vitkauskas

A cinepoem by Lithuanian-Canadian-American poet Lina Ramona Vitkauskas, who notes that the text is

From a new poetry collection, “Between Plague & Kleptocracy: Invented Poetic Creations & Conversations of Seva & Bill”, in which I cross-reference poems between Vsevolod Nekrasov & Bill Knott and serve as medium and “translator” of their posthumous conversations / invented collaborations. The poems are written in the voice / tone / style of both Nekrasov & Knott, featuring borrowed lines and found poems within those lines. The poems are the transcripts of their thoughts across astral planes: what they would perhaps discuss in this perilous time in history: of pandemic, of widespread injustice, forced isolation, and of finding ourselves with a traitorous snake oil salesman / neo-Soviet puppet in our WH.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Gil Scott-Heron

This prophetic poem by the late, great Gil Scott-Heron has been on my mind a lot lately. I went to see if anyone had ever made a decent video for it, and found this on YouTube (though I subsequently swapped in the production company’s own upload from Vimeo). It was produced in 2001 by Peter Collingridge and directed by Julian House as a video trailer for Scott-Heron’s collected lyrics and poems, Now and Then (Canongate Books). A link in the YouTube description took me to Collingridge’s Apt Studio, a British “digital consultancy to publishers,” where I found a page for the film, as well as the original Flash version, still live:

Apt MD Peter Collingridge worked at Canongate Books from 1997-2001. Whilst there he wrote a business plan for the Scottish Arts Council, titled “Pop Promos For Books”. The plan was to commission his film-maker friends to make pop video-length films inspired by books, and to host these films on the Canongate website, attracting more visitors.

One of the first films was for “Now and Then”, a collection of Gil Scott-Heron’s poems which Peter was editing at the time. There was only one option as to which poem to chose – Gil’s masterpiece, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

He teamed up with Julian House at Intro to make this promo, which has been seen over 750,000 times. The film uses archival images from Getty, and was launched in 2001.

The track “The Revolution Has Not Been Televised” has been edited for the promo.

Who knew that the idea of making video trailers for books of poetry pre-dated the creation of YouTube by at least five years! There’s also still a page for the video at the Intro website, which offers a reminder of how cutting-edge Flash animation was at the time:

The Intro moving image team has created a Flash movie to promote a book about music visionary Gil Scott Heron. The film, made entirely in Flash, is a dynamic interpretation of one of Gil’s most famous songs, ‘The Revolution Will Not be Televised.’ It features fragments of lyrics and images from the American 1970s mediascape. The promo was shortlisted at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, for best animation.

Do listen to the complete track, in all its glory, on the Ace Records YouTube channel.

I also found this snippet of an interview with Gill where he explains, very calmly and patiently, what he meant by his famous dictum:

“Shot by Skip Blumberg. Watch the full, unedited interview at Media Burn Archive.” This is raw footage for a TV series called The 90’s. The true revolution may not be televised, but fortunately Gil Scott-Heron was. Such a brilliant and original spoken-word innovator.