~ Poet: Elizabeth Alexander ~

Ars Poetica #100: I Believe by Elizabeth Alexander

The On Being Project — a 15-year-old American Public Media radio show/podcast that’s spawned a whole web empire — has recently started producing poetry films, each an animation with a different director. Here’s one of my favorites. It’s by the London-based animator Jocie Juritz, with sound by Galina Juritz. The YouTube description notes that “This poem was originally read in the On Being episode with Elizabeth Alexander, Words That Shimmer,” which aired on January 6, 2011.

Juritz posted some process notes on her website:

I was struck by the line “emptying the proverbial pocketbook” which sparked imagery of my own creative process – scribbling into sketchbooks, accumulating paper and mementos. As a sort of homage to the pen and paper (and reference to the ideas making process) I decided to animate the frames of this film directly into the pages of Elizabeth Alexander’s book ‘Crave Radiance’ which contains “I Believe”. Kindly, she gave me the go ahead to do whatever I liked with the book!

I animated each frame in Photoshop first, to make sure I had a perfect reference to trace. Those frames were then printed out. Using a lightbox I hand painted each frame in gouache paint, directly onto the pages of the book. Once they were all coloured I scanned each page, then placed each frame in position in After Effects.

People may remember Alexander as President Obama’s first inaugural poet, but she’s much more than that. Here’s her page at the Poetry Foundation.