Latest additions to the video library

Symphony Jane by Rosemary Norman

A love song to the Eurasian blackbird, the American robin’s more musical cousin, this recent film from long-time videopoetry collaborators Stuart Pound and Rosemary Norman shows the power of a simple concept beautifully realized:

A poem arrives on the screen letter by letter. The image is all text with the story in the soundtrack, a blackbird’s song.

Last year, Pound and Norman came out with a print book showcasing their collaborations, Words & Pictures, available from Aspect Ratio (2 Lothair Road, London W5 4TA) for £8.50, which garnered a good review in London Grip:

Many readers will have seen and enjoyed Rosemary Norman’s poems in magazines and also observed that her bio note mentions her collaborations with video artist Stuart Pound in the making of poetry videos. These videos have been shown at festivals and other film events (including some at the BFI); but the majority of Norman’s readers will probably not have had a chance to attend one of these screenings. Fortunately it is now possible to experience a selection of Norman & Pound’s work in the comfort of one’s own home. A new book Words & Pictures contains 18 of Norman’s poems together with a number of stills from the corresponding videos and, more importantly, an internet link / QR code giving access to an on-line archive where the videos can be seen in full. This offers a simple but satisfying multi-media experience where one can enjoy the words on the page alongside (or as a curtain-raiser to) a visual and auditory interpretation.

Darkness by Ben Morgan

This delightful new animation by Suzie Hanna recreates the world of illuminated manuscripts to bring to life a text by poet and scholar Ben Morgan. Like many viewers, I’m sure, my main reference point for that sort of thing was Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but I had no trouble adjusting to this more serious and cerebral use of Medieval imagery and motifs. In fact, I found it—dare I say?—quite illuminating.

Made for an installation ‘Invertlight’ in St Peter Hungate Church Norwich in 2024, this animation of Ben Morgan’s poem imagines an encounter between Julian of Norwich, a 14th century Anchoress locked away in her cell, and her son who visits to challenge her decision to give up on the natural world. It is not known if she had children but she entered the ‘living death’ after child bearing age, and may well have been a mother before her voluntary incarceration. Julian wrote ‘Revelations of Divine Love’ the first surviving book to be written by a woman in the English language. ‘Invertlight’ is a Research project at Norwich University of the Arts that focuses on creating Art for buildings that have been changed from religious to secular use.

For more on the poet, see One Hand Clapping:

Ben Morgan is a poet and academic based in Oxford, UK. His first poetry pamphlet, Medea in Corinth: Poems, Prayers, Letters, and a Curse, was published by Poetry Salzburg in 2018. It retold the famous myth through poetic letters, spells, prayers, sonnets and songs, as well as theatrical interludes. He has also published poems in Oxford Poetry and at The Sunday Tribune and The High Window. He has taught Shakespeare studies and early modern literature at a number of colleges in Oxford and is completing a monograph on Shakespeare and human rights for Princeton University Press.

Ein traum / A Dream by Sophie Reyer

A 2023 film by Marc Neys based on a poem by Austrian writer Sophie Reyer, with whom he has collaborated at least twice before. The choral voices in the soundtrack help mediate between the two sets of images in the video, either one of which could be seen as dream-like or nightmarish from the perspective of the other.

Video for ‘Ein Traum’ by Sophie Reyer
Concept, camera, editing & add. arrangement: Marc Neys
Words, voice, composition: Sophie Reyer
Choir: voicesandgraces
Conductor: Antonia kalechyts
Footage: Andrew Arthur Breese & Lodewijk Van Eeckhout
thanks: Mazwai

ein traum

den hageputten blättern
aus einem traum winkend:

rot zwischen kahlem
ader geäst. du hast

die vogel perspektive wieder
gefunden. sitzt in den

baum gerippen und erzählst
dir die welt: märchen in

wintergrau. laub.

a dream

waving to hibiscus leaves
from inside a dream:

red between bare
veins, branches. you’ve regained

the bird’s eye
view. sitting in the

tree’s frame and telling
yourself about the world: fairytales in

winter’s grey. foliage.

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.

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.