~ Nationality: United States ~

The Self as Product by Tom Disch

A 2020 upload from Blank Verse Films, one of the channels added to our freshly updated links page. Director Mike Gioia told me in an email that he ‘borrowed the concept of the Stage Manager from Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town” and applied it to the poetry. I made the poet a physical character in the scene but one who is distinctly apart from it.’ It works brilliantly, in part because the guy playing the poet, Brendan Constantine, is a very good performance poet in his own right.

The YouTube description notes that ‘The music is “Tango Cool” by Ted Gioia, copyright Time Records.’ Here’s what it has about the poet:

Tom Disch (1958-2008) was a gifted, witty, and biting writer. Disch wrote poetry under the name Tom Disch and wrote science-fiction and fantasy under the name Thomas Disch, including the children-adventure series The Brave Little Toaster, which was later adapted into a Disney movie. Disch’s dark yet hilarious take on the world is beautifully condensed in this poem “The Self as Product”, which was originally published in his 1991 collection Dark Verses & Light.

You can find out more about Tom Disch on his wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_M._Disch

You can read more of Tom Disch’s poetry here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/tom-disch

war movie by Martha McCollough

This 11-year-old videopoem by Martha McCollough—one of the few of hers we’ve never featured here—seems more relevant than ever. It’s been six years since she last uploaded a new video to her Vimeo page, but her unique voice and vision remain unsurpassed in an increasingly crowded field of American videopoets.

Malecón/Miami by Leslie Sainz

Cuban-American poet Leslie Sainz performs her poem in this 2023 film from The Adrian Brinkerhoff Poetry Foundation, “Directed by Eric Felipe-Barkin and shot in Coconut Grove and Biscayne Island, Miami.” It’s one of ten films in a series called Read By Miami, produced in cooperation with O, Miami Poetry Festival, which runs throughout the month of April each year.

I Am Here by Porsche Veu

Porsche Veu writes, directs and performs in I Am Here, an inspiring dance and music video on personal empowerment.

Porsche Veu aka The Poetic Activist is an unapologetic author, spoken word poet, speaker, educator, and artist of many talents from Oakland. (source)

Porsche uses her art to fight social injustice, empower women, youth, & the Black community, and advocate for mental & emotional health. (source)

The film was winner of the multimedia category in the Button Poetry Video Contest in 2022. The poem can be read on the page here.

Moment by Matt Dennison

A new film by Marc Neys, with music of his own composition, for the poem ‘Moment’ by Matt Dennison. Marc used the U.S. Army’s footage of an atomic bomb test, leaning into the distressed quality of the film stock digitized by the Prelinger Archive.

If You Feel Terrible by Rebecca Wadlinger

With a pitch-black sense of humour, If You Feel Terrible is the first poem from the book Terror, Terrible, Terrific by US poet Rebecca Wadlinger. A bio:

Rebecca Wadlinger was born in Pennsylvania, where she attended the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University. She received her MFA from the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, and her doctorate in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston. Her poetry has appeared in publications like The Best New Poets anthology, Tin House, Ploughshares, and Mid-American Review, among others. (source)

This film of the poem is directed, illustrated, and animated by Nick Stokes.

I found the film in Judy Elfferich‘s outstanding Poetry in Motion section of the Dutch website ooteoote, where she has been publishing videopoetry since 2015.

Subtleties of Shanghai by Angela Kong

A lovingly crafted, gentle and touching film set during lockdown, Subtleties of Shanghai is by Chinese-American writer and artist Angela Kong. It was a finalist in the 2023 Spoken Word Competition at The Artists Forum in New York, and winner of the international category in the 2022 Button Video Contest.

Angela Kong is a Chinese American writer and activist committed to social change and awareness through photography, videography, and spoken word addressing issues such as experiences of racism, injustice, and privilege. A 2017 graduate of Colorado College, Kong currently works and lives in Shanghai. (source)

cage-free by Donna Kuhn

This unique and original video was uploaded just two weeks ago. Described as an “animation collage of dreams”, cage-free is by multi-media artist, Donna Kuhn. As well she is a sometime poet in an experimental vein, words written and fused with the audio-video elements. More about her creative work:

Donna Kuhn’s experimental videos incorporate poetry, datamoshing, slit scan, dance, digital and visual art, sound text poetry, speech synthesis, animation, hologram/3d and sound/music. (source)

The text in this video is made up of many single lines and phrases from dreams, written and spoken in different ways, describing places, events, situations, momentary impressions. The surreal juxtapositions between these dream fragments are sometimes humorous, or dark, strange, light, or ordinary. The visuals similarly seem like a stream of glitchy consciousness. As someone who is fascinated by dreams, I enjoyed the video for its shifting moods and intriguing surprises.

Donna Kuhn created all elements of this video. We have previously featured other of her videos here.

We Are All Drowned Out by Kimberly Reyes

A sense of planetary emergency is vividly evoked here in a videopoem with the power and urgency of a feature film, co-directed by American poet Kimberly Reyes and Irish/Australian filmmaker Gary de Buit (Studio 8 Labs) with music by Aiden Guilfolye, and uploaded to YouTube two years ago with this description:

Made in Monaghan, Ireland by Studio 8 Labs with funding from the Irish Arts Council. First published on Poethead.

Visit Reyes’ website and scroll down for a bio, before checking out her other poetry films. It’s always encouraging to see ambitious, career-oriented poets getting into poetry film (as opposed to aging burnouts like me). Here’s how her bio begins:

Kimberly Reyes is an award-winning poet, essayist, popular culture critic, and visual culture scholar who began her career as a music and entertainment reporter. She transitioned to creative writing after receiving her Master of Arts from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 2013 and has since been awarded grants, bursaries, fellowships, residencies and scholarships from the Poetry Foundation, the Fulbright Program, the Academy of American Poets, Tin House Workshops, Culture Ireland, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, New York City Artist Corps, Miami Writers Institute, the Arts Council of Ireland, CantoMundo, Callaloo, Hambidge, Cave Canem, the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, the Munster Literature Centre, Summer Literary Seminars in Kenya, the Prague Summer Program for Writers, the Community of Writers, and many other places.

Read the rest.

Hidden Life by Elina Petrova

Hidden Life is written and spoken by Ukrainian-born Elina Petrova, now in Houston, USA. The film is by Chap Edmonson, a native of that city. The film was in part inspired by Terrence Malick’s 2019 feature film A Hidden Life, a favorite for both poet and film-maker. The epigraph to that film is a line from George Eliot’s classic novel Middlemarch:

…for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.

Petrova’s bio gives her home town as Donetsk, stating that “she became an American citizen in 2014, but remains a citizen of the world.” Also from her bio:

A frequent Pushcart Prize nominee and a finalist for the post of Houston Poet Laureate in 2015… She was appointed Austin International Poetry Fest’s Featured Poet in 2019 and has been featured in the Huffington Post’s “Five Poets You Need to Know About” as one of Houston’s important emerging poets.

Chap Edmonson’s bio from the film’s notes at YouTube:

Chap Edmonson is an award-winning filmmaker based in Houston. His films have been screened in Cannes, Paris, Alfred, Los Angeles, and Houston (Calm Remains, 2021, and You are Art, 2019). Chap’s work is rooted in a deep desire to connect with those who have come before him. Through the use of unconventional compositions and soundscapes, he creates films that tell dynamic stories of a rich history, the future, and points where they intersect.

He is interviewed about the film here.

The film was produced in association with Aurora Picture Show and Public Poetry Houston, which runs the yearly REELpoetry film festival.

Only by Rebecca Foust

A poetry film by interdisciplinary artist Maxine Flasher-Düzgüneş based on the title poem of Rebecca Foust‘s seventh book, Only (Four Way Books, 2022). Kevin Martinez was the videographer. It was shot at Limantour Beach, California in April 2023.

The publisher’s description does make the book sound intriguing:

Urgent from the outset, Rebecca Foust’s ONLY insists that the only thing worth writing about is everything. Prompted to confront what she does not know, the speaker lists, “Null. All. What’s after death or before.” This book scales the cliff-face of adulthood, that paradoxical ascent in which the longer we live the less we know of life, in which we find that each of us is only ourselves and yet delicately interconnected with everyone, everything, else. These candid lyrics ponder our broken political systems, family (dys)function and parenting challenges, divergent and intersecting identities, the complexities of sexuality and gender, natural refuge and climate catastrophe, and in general what it means to be human in a world that sometimes feels as if it is approaching apocalypse. At the ledge of this abyss, however, Foust reminds us of the staggering beauty of life, the legacies of survival in the echoes of care that outlast us: “I came / to the canyon rim and saw // how best to carry you: I let the stone go.”

Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye reads her own deep and beautiful poem Kindness in this excellent animated film by Ana Pérez López, a Spanish illustrator living in London. Sound and Music is by Chris Heagle. The piece is from a series of poetry films produced by the On Being Project. Others from the series have previously been featured here at Moving Poems.