~ Poet: Gary Barwin ~

Tango Two & The Singer’s Hands by Gary Barwin


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.

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.

Alien Babies by Gary Barwin

There’s more than meets the eye to this delightfully unhinged new videopoem by the Canadian writer, multimedia artist and composer Gary Barwin. The YouTube description notes that the text is from his forthcoming collection No TV for Woodpeckers.

The Hand by Gary Barwin

Gary Barwin wrote the text and music; Jenna Mariash directed. Despite the somewhat literal correspondence of video images to text, I found the former interesting and diverse enough that they avoid creating a feeling of redundancy, and instead contribute to a thoroughly enjoyable videopoem.

Inverting the Deer by Gary Barwin

I love this poem, and was happy to see Gary Barwin (who describes himself as writer, composer, multimedia artist, performer and educator) doing something interesting with the much-abused video slideshow (kinestatic) form on YouTube. The poem appears in The Porcupinity of the Stars (Coach House, 2010).