~ Poet: Kai Carlson-Wee ~

Nomad Palindrome by Kai Carlson-Wee

This is I think the first palindromic poetry film I’ve seen, but it’s a very good one. The author-filmmaker, Kai Carlson-Wee, previously appeared with his brother Anders, also a widely published poet, in a documentary short called Riding the Highline, which they co-directed, as well as several poetry videos of Kai’s own (including Cry of the Loon, which I shared here).

A note at Vimeo says the poem previously appeared at Agni, and I got all excited thinking that maybe another major literary journal had followed Triquarterly‘s lead and was publishing poetry films online, but it appears to be still just a print publication. Oh well.

Cry of the Loon by Kai Carlson-Wee

An author-made poetry film by Kai Carlson-Wee that was a runner-up in the 2016 Button Poetry Video Contest.

It occurred to me as I re-watched this that the opening sequence of loons calling with the title superimposed is a great example of a circumstance in which it makes sense to break the rule against straight-forward illustration in video- or filmpoetry: so few people nowadays can be assumed to know what a loon call sounds like, and it’s really helpful to know that if you want the full, melancholy effect of the poem. And I like how the images in the film and the text slowly diverge over the next couple of minutes: an uncoupling that seems appropriate for a poem about memory and mortality. Finally we reach the ending sequence — back out on the water with the loons — and learn that the filmpoem is For Roald Carlson (1925-2015). Beautifully done (and a good mate to the in memoriam filmpoem by George and Eleanor Hooker that I posted on Wednesday).