~ Poet: Lisa Robertson ~

Citizen Poetry by Lisa Robertson and Mike Hoolboom

The edited stream of ‘found’ moving images writes its own wordless poem in Mike Hoolboom‘s Citizen Poetry. Meticulous sound design brings another rich texture of poetry to this film. Text-on-screen offers reading of words without voice, the content adapted from Lisa Robertson’s collection of poetic-prose essays, Nilling.

There is a a difficulty in crediting Mike’s films for cataloguing purposes. For some years they have shown conscious effort to subvert authorship. Citizen Poetry’s final credit gives only a stark list of names, with Mike somewhere around the middle:

Samuel Boudier
Murasaki Encho
Jeanette Groenendaal
Mike Hoolboom
Lucia Martinez
Olivier Provily
Susanne Ohmann
Jean Perret
Liz Straitman
Leslie Supnet
Ana Taran

And yet this piece bears the indelible mark of his film-making style over the decades of a prolific and esteemed artistic life. There’s a breathtaking, dynamic and moving quality to the choice and editing of images from multiple sources, a subtle euphoria, dark and light, deftly woven through all elements of this film.

It could well be that the other names in the credits are artists who created the disparate fragments of ‘found’ media in Citizen Poetry. I wonder if Mike directly knows any of his listed collaborators or contributors. As a fellow maker of films that assemble ‘found’ media, I relate to indirect and virtual creative connections.

However Lisa Robertson is given her own solo credit as the source of Mike’s radically condensed text for the film. As its own piece of writing, Citizen Poetry could be loosely described as prose poetry. From the film’s synopsis:

This retake on belonging and boundaries imagines poetry as a capitalist salve.

The first half of the film sets context and describes mechanisms of how life is objectified in capitalism, people and all. The second half speaks beautifully about the ‘citizen poetry’ that brings hope and liberating connections below the radar.

Borders inspire crossings.

Poetry is the speech of citizenship. It keeps escaping and follows language towards an ear that could belong to anyone.

The final line – I won’t spoil it – brings inspired closure.

Vimeo shows the title of the film as Citizen Poet but I have chosen to adhere to Citizen Poetry, as it appears on the screen.

Moving Poems has before featured three other films from Mike Hoolboom.