~ Author-made videopoems ~

One Step Away by Caroline Rumley

One Step Away is a touching, personal piece by Caroline Rumley, an outstanding writer and film-maker whose work has been awarded and screened widely at international festivals and events over the past several years.

Written from a dream, the video has an understated quality focusing on simple details, a light touch that is evident in much of her work. The choices in found footage and the rhythmic editing are deft and assured. Caroline’s writing seems to arise only to be entwined with media, and the filmic elements are just as poetic as her words. Artist statements describe an interest in the “thin-sliced instance, the brief flash that tells you all you need to know.”

Moving Poems has previously published another three of her videopoems. One Step Away is not recently produced but Caroline’s films are so beautiful they seem never too late to share.

Suspiro by Matilde César

An author-made poetry film by Portuguese photographer Matilde César. If there’s one thing poetry- and music-lovers know about Portugal, it’s the importance of saudade, “a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for something or someone that one cares for and/or loves.” This minimalist film, with its actors like dancers trying to remember the dance, is drenched in that emotion, as the Vimeo description suggests:

Suspiro is a film born from the longing to return home. After being 10 months away from Portugal, the desire of creating something that would connect me with my homeland was big so I resorted to my language and to nature to try to find this connection. This was the result.

Director: Matilde César
Sound: Flora Nolan
Participation of: Aneesa Julmice and Flora Nolan
Poem “Suspiro”: Written and recited by Matilde César
Location: Coney Island, NYC

“Final project for my Multimedia class at NYU Tisch,” it says on her website,

On a personal note, I have been weathering a form of saudade myself for many months, thinking of my former partner in London and wondering whether I’ll ever see any of my friends there again. And I’ve been on the verge of shutting down Moving Poems more than once. But what made me want to continue with the site was remembering how much delight I’ve always gotten from finding new-to-me poets and filmmakers on the internet. I ran across Suspiro earlier this week as the result of a random search on Vimeo, and despite—or perhaps because of—the melancholic content, I did a little happy dance next to my desk. I’m back.

Tango Two & The Singer’s Hands by Gary Barwin

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It’s fascinating to see what an imaginative experimental poet can do with a given text. The contrast in visuals here couldn’t be more striking, but the text beginning with “life is long” is identical (though The Singer’s Hand does begin with a separate text as well). Gary Barwin explains what he was up to with the latter in a blog post:

Of course, Ukraine has been on my mind lately, like it has been on everyone’s mind. Yesterday, someone on my Facebook feed posted a field recording of an old Ukrainian woman singing. I was very struck by the song and her haunting voice as well as by her powerful presence. However, the thing that struck me the most was her hands: strong, thick and always moving as she sang. They were very expressive: a life, emotions, age, strength. So, I made this video using two of my poems which I feel relate to loss, strength, war, grief and love; I feel like they connect to a sense of what is happening now.

I used a close-up of this singer’s hands in this video as well as introducing other visual elements. The music is a remix that I did (adding various clarinets and saxophones plus a bunch of electronics) to a recording of a rehearsal which my sister-in-law Pam Campbell sent me of her singing with her group Tupan.

The post goes on to share both poems as plain text, “Blue Train” and the untitled one from “Tango Two.”

For more on Gary Barwin (including links to his books), visit his website.

Dobre mašine / Good Machines by Ana Pantić

I’m surfacing after a long hiatus to share the latest author-made videopoem by Serbian poet Ana Pantić, who included this description at YouTube:

Poetry film Good Machines (Dobre mašine)

Ana Pantić – poem, voice, film
Nebojša Anđelković – original music, sound editing
Milan Bogdanović – sound editing
Videopoezija, Belgrade 2022

This poetry film, composed of only two clips, highlights subconscious thought processes activated by everyday mechanical actions. The poem came about after the video, although this kind of creative process is considered to be the reversed one, I find it quite inspiring.

This appeals to my metalhead side as well as my poetry side, with lyrics that wouldn’t be out of place in a modern death metal album. In times like these, maybe that’s what we need? I know it’s what I need!

Jux/ta/po/si/tion by Miriam Hechtman

https://youtu.be/Mpl57ewno6s

Jux/ta/po/si/tion is an author-made videopoem by Australian performance poet Miriam Hechtman, whose array of projects include founding and directing POETICA, a regular live poetry and music event in Bondi, Sydney.

The poem takes an abecedarian structure to convey minimal but strongly resonant meanings. The effectiveness of these arises from the inventiveness of word combinations. The piece is minimal in film-making elements as well, with layered voice and text on screen giving distinct perspectives on the poetic text.

I see a connection here with the work of well-known Adelaide videopoet Ian Gibbins, especially his Game Over: Grand Final Edition. Subject and expressive tone are unique to each artist, but I find a similarly bold, experimental approach to film-making and to poetry in these videos.

I discovered Jux/ta/po/si/tion on the website for a recent poetry cinema event in Canberra, curated by Jacqui Malens. That program is now on permanent exhibition at the Poetic City website.

Escribimos/We Write by Juan Bullón et. al.

An exemplary anthology videopoem from Seville-based poetry filmmaker Juan Bullón’s creative writing workshop. Be sure to click the CC (closed captioning) icon if you need the English translation (which is very good). As Juan told me in an email last November:

This year, with some of the students from my Creative Writing workshop, we decided to create a single piece, and although the stories that each one recites are more or less different, I think it can be seen as a single work made up of a few very personal poems and stories. Besides, all the authors are in the video, we all act. Another bet we made was to use as few verses or words as possible of what each one had written on the image, trying not to be so graphic so that the image and text could walk in parallel instead of chained.

The poems and authors in order: DICEN/THEY SAY by Juan Bullón; ESFINGE NEGRA/BLACK SPHINX by Carmen R. Hiraldo; DE CÓMO UN GRAMÁTICO APENADO SE QUEJA DESATENTO/HOW A SAD GRAMMARIAN COMPLAINS DISTRACTED (COOL) by Carmen Galeto; MAULLIDOS Y ESPANTOS/MEOWS AND HORRORS by Manuel Rodríguez de los Santos; SABER/KNOWING by Pedro García Ordiales; and ÚLTIMO DESPACHO/LAST DISPATCH by Juan Bullón. To read the original texts, go here, and for the translations, go here.

You Still Have Something of The Ghost About You by JinJin Xu

For International Women’s Day, here’s a cento videopoem by JinJin Xu 徐今今, a poet and filmmaker from Shanghai. Here’s the Vimeo description:

The cento-film “You Still Have Something of the Ghost About You” was shot in the hauntingly empty casinos during the COVID-19 pandemic in Macau, China after I left mandatory government quarantine and realized I’d stumbled into the underworld. The polyvocal collage slips the viewer into an otherworldly, post-COVID globalized hypnosis: interweaving strangely prescient texts from Chinese and Western epics such as Dream of the Red Chamber, Journey to the West, Beastiary, Dante’s Inferno, and contemporary texts such as John Cage’s X, and Gu Cheng’s Ying’er, to journey into the afterlife of forgetfulness.

As a former comparative literature major, I love this blend! And I’m always excited to see up-and-coming poets integrating filmmaking into their practice. Xu’s bio notes that after getting her BA at Amherst College, she “traveled for a year as a Thomas J. Watson Fellow recording docu-poems with women dislocated across nine countries.” She’s currently in the MFA program at NYU, and her chapbook There Is Still Singing in the Afterlife just came out in November, after winning the inaugural Own Voices Chapbook Prize from Radix Media. Be sure to follow her on Vimeo.

To The End Of Things, Part 5: Mountains by Martin Heslop and Helen Tookey

An excerpt from a unique collaboration between poet-filmmakers Martin Heslop and Helen Tookey, celebrating and evoking the spirits of place — or as they put it, “deciphering the landscape, coaxing it back into language.”

In September 2019, writer and composer Martin Heslop and poet Helen Tookey spent a two-week residency in Great Village, Nova Scotia, in the house where Elizabeth Bishop lived as a child. They wrote poems and prose pieces, fragments, notes. And they collected field recordings and sounds: waterfalls, rivers, cave-drips; crickets under pylons, in blueberry fields, by the shafts of old mines; the creaking and cracking of a wooden church during a hurricane; the harmonium and all the bells in the house; the turning mechanism of a lighthouse beam, abandoned radio-sets. They were recording the present and searching for possible futures, but also looking to summon the buried histories of the place.

Back home they made films, visiting and revisiting the Durham and Northumberland coast, Parys Mountain on Anglesey, South Gare on Teesside – places similarly scarred by the presence and now the loss of industry. Over the past year, they have been weaving these sounds into the films, creating new conversations, across the Atlantic Ocean.

Using sound and film, their poems and their voices, entwined with early recordings of Nova Scotian Gaelic songs gathered from the archives of the Beaton Institute at Cape Breton University, Helen and Martin are creating a series of audio-visual poems – a narrative sequence – weaving together the experiences of a woman trying to navigate an uncertain and unfamiliar landscape, and the voice of a man who is of this place, but of a different time. This man is the draegerman of the mines, the rescuer, and he tells of the underground world he remembers, recalls voices of those he rescued and those he could not. They are both deciphering the landscape, coaxing it back into language.

Parts one to five were released in November 2020, with the second half of the story to follow in the New Year.

Watch all five November releases.

Welcome to the edge of your seat by Janet Lees

For David Ballantyne
Photography & animation by Janet Lees
Music by Henyao

Simple but brilliant. Reminds me of the minimalism that drew me to Janet’s filmpoems from the very beginning. The contrast between the music and the text really adds to the unsettling quality of the piece.

Needleminer by Gary Barwin

Mooneyes mimic shiner for this, trifathead checkerspot for that. We call it opera. Or disease.

This videopoem by writer, composer, and “melted media” artist Gary Barwin reverses the usual balance between text and video in which the latter adds complexity to a relatively straightforward text. Here, the text—sections 5 and 3 from Barwin’s long poem “Needleminer” in No TV for Woodpeckers—is rather thicket-like, full of obscure words, neologisms, and unexpected turns of phrase in the best tradition of avant-garde ecopoetry. So the images are kept relatively simple and consistent throughout, while still reversing our ordinary perspective of nature as something outside. The soundtrack includes Barwin’s adaptation of Nisi Dominus by Vivaldi.

This joins three other videos made from texts in No TV for Woodpeckers; watch them all (and browse reviews) on Barwin’s website.

Fous de la bête (Crazy About the Beast) by Corrin Evans

An author-made filmpoem (or filmmaker-written poetry film) by Los Angeles-based actor and director Corrin Evans. Cedric Goddard is credited with translation (I’m assuming into French from an English original?) and the voiceover performance is by Keveen Baudouin.

Corrin was co-creator of an unreleased TV mini-series called Sex Parties, so I’m guessing this might be a spin-off from that.

Raaga by Roseanne Walt

A Shetlandic filmpoem by poet, filmmaker and musician Roseanne Walt, one of a series of four filmpoems featuring masked beings and texts from Dr. Walt’s award-winning, bilingual collection Moder Dy (Mother Wave). Stoal // Raaga is

A series of filmpoems exploring themes of modern myth, memory and landscape. Exhibited at The Booth, Scalloway and Broadway Gallery, Letchworth in 2019. Made with the Kishie Wife Collective. Commissioned by Shetland Arts.

According to the online Dictionary of the Scots Language, raaga refers to wreckage or driftwood, and figuratively “anything useless or spoilt, rubbish, a poor broken-down person or animal.” A raaga-tree is “a tree or branch washed up as driftwood.”