Sea Breeze (Brise Marine) by Stéphane Mallarmé

A brilliant musical adaptation and video remix of A.S. Kline’s English translation of Mallarmé’s poem by D. Estrada, AKA Vox Poesis (YouTube, Instagram, Bandcamp). The sped-up images of water have a propulsive force to match the music and intoned text, for an effect that’s at once meditative and unsettling—as the poet probably would’ve wanted.

The Self as Product by Tom Disch

A 2020 upload from Blank Verse Films, one of the channels added to our freshly updated links page. Director Mike Gioia told me in an email that he ‘borrowed the concept of the Stage Manager from Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town” and applied it to the poetry. I made the poet a physical character in the scene but one who is distinctly apart from it.’ It works brilliantly, in part because the guy playing the poet, Brendan Constantine, is a very good performance poet in his own right.

The YouTube description notes that ‘The music is “Tango Cool” by Ted Gioia, copyright Time Records.’ Here’s what it has about the poet:

Tom Disch (1958-2008) was a gifted, witty, and biting writer. Disch wrote poetry under the name Tom Disch and wrote science-fiction and fantasy under the name Thomas Disch, including the children-adventure series The Brave Little Toaster, which was later adapted into a Disney movie. Disch’s dark yet hilarious take on the world is beautifully condensed in this poem “The Self as Product”, which was originally published in his 1991 collection Dark Verses & Light.

You can find out more about Tom Disch on his wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_M._Disch

You can read more of Tom Disch’s poetry here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/tom-disch

war movie by Martha McCollough

This 11-year-old videopoem by Martha McCollough—one of the few of hers we’ve never featured here—seems more relevant than ever. It’s been six years since she last uploaded a new video to her Vimeo page, but her unique voice and vision remain unsurpassed in an increasingly crowded field of American videopoets.

Cathedrals by Salena Godden + The Tyger by William Blake

British author and performance poet Salena Godden reads “Cathedrals” from her just-published collection With Love, Grief and Fury in a video from the production company STORYA. This is not a book trailer, however, but something new to me: a museum exhibition trailer in the form of a videopoem!

The exhibition is William Blake’s Universe at the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge, UK., and the museum also worked with STORYA and Godden on a more conventional video trailer: a reading of Blake’s most famous poem, “The Tyger” which I’ll append below. But they had the sense to include Salena’s own, personal reactions to Blake and the exhibition at the end of that trailer, and then—or perhaps from the inception—they had the brilliant idea to ask her to read a poem of her own, placing her in conversation with the poet whose multimedia works are the focus of the exhibition.

STORYA is Lucy Andia and Frederick Shelbourne, both profiled on their About page. They say they specialize in videos about artists and exhibitions, and in fact their filming of “The Tyger” is one of the two highlighted projects on their website:

To coincide with the Fitzwilliam Museum’s exhibition, William Blake’s Universe, we were commissioned to create a film. The brief? Capture the exhibition’s striking design and draw inspiration from Blake’s powerful poetry.

Salena Godden, a poet deeply inspired by Blake’s rebellious spirit and unwavering dedication to creativity, was the perfect choice for a reading. Her selection: the iconic poem, The Tyger. Through creative brainstorming sessions, our team identified fire as the poem’s central element to visualise.

Flickering lights and shadows of tigers and foliage were used to create an immersive atmosphere surrounding Salena’s reading. This museum film, a testament to the power of collaboration, is the result of many creative minds coming together.

Godden has a whole blog post about the shoot, full of photos—check it out. As she notes, “Radical British poet, painter and visionary William Blake believed in the power of art and words to bring us together.”

Demolished by Ian Gibbins

None of the images in the video are as they seem in real life. Instead, we imagine what could be if “progress” proceeds at its current rate. What will remain? How will the survivors operate? Where will the ghosts of our history end up?

Vimeo description

Australian videopoet Ian Gibbins needs no introduction here, and his background as a scientist makes his films about the climate and extinction crises especially compelling. In a recent blog post introducing Demolished, he asked,

Is it possible to have a one-word poem?

Very short forms of poetry have a long history. Perhaps the best known are haiku, which in their classic English form consist of only three lines with a total of 17 syllables. But then there are 6-word poems, a popular form of extremely compressed writing. Visual poetry and concrete poetry is often based around a single word, perhaps with its multiple variations.

For me, one of the primary attractions of video art is that I can create visual worlds that do not exist in real life. The roles of juxtaposition, movement, and the tension between familiarity and strangeness in the visual domain act like metaphor and allusion in written poetry. When audio is added, we gain an additional dimension within which ambiguity, shifting mood and rhythmic energy can inhabit.

My video DEMOLISHED was created for a group exhibition curated by Tony Kearney at The Packing Shed, Hart’s Mill, Port Adelaide, South Australia, as part of the 2024 Adelaide Fringe Festival. None of the scenes in the video exist in real life. Every one of them has been composited and, in some cases animated, from multiple images recorded in the immediate area around Hart’s Mill, including some from inside the Packing Shed itself. The soundtrack was created from a single spoken sample of the word “demolished”.

For me, the video incorporates the feeling of a poem in some way. I originally had intended to include much more text, but as the video came together with the soundtrack, it became clear that the visual imagery told the story, following the rhythms of the soundtrack. If you know the area, the scenes look strangely familiar but impossible to pin down, perhaps like images from a dream or a poorly-recalled memory. Hopefully, they act as metaphors for the loss of human and natural history extending back generations, as old work sheds, warehouses, docks and wetlands are demolished in the name of so-called development of the Port Adelaide district.

So is it possible to have a one word poem? Maybe… But I’d like to think it is certainly possible to have a one-word poetry video… DEMOLISHED.

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.

Tasting Notes by Matthew Stewart

This is one of the best, most satisfying films based on a poetry collection that I’ve seen. It was made in 2013 in support of a pamphlet (chapbook) of the same title from Happenstance Press. The poems are clearly differentiated, yet blend pretty seamlessly into a whole, with shots of the poet in a vineyard as part of the connective tissue. British poet Matthew Stewart collaborated with Spanish filmmaker José María Fernández de Vega of GLOW production company in Extramadura, where Stewart works in the wine trade. It’s hard to imagine a more poetic vocation! And since the speaker in each poem is a different variety of wine, and they’re all delivered in the poet’s own voice, it’s as if we’re hearing missing metamorphoses out of Ovid.

A while back I compiled my Top Ten Multi-Poem Films and Videopoems. This would certainly have occupied a prominent position in the list had it been available at the time. Conservative as the choice of images is, they rarely feel overly obvious. And Stewart’s voiceover is well done: readerly, but with excellent cadence and modulation. I’d have preferred somewhat less melodic music by way of contrast, but otherwise there were no false notes for me among these very tasty words and images.

Fuck / Our Future by Inua Ellams

A video made for some kind of climate series at The New York Times, locked behind the paywall, I think. My request for clarification on filmmaker(s) has gone unanswered, but it seems the result of a collaboration with the photographer named at the beginning, Josh Haner, a Pulitzer-winning feature photographer for the paper. Ellams himself also works in graphic art and design. I like how the poem’s searing language is mediated by the intimate space of an online reading, giving way to natural places and a more-than-figurative tree of life.

Earlier we shared a film by Jamie McDonald for the title poem from Ellam’s 2020 collection The Actual, among several other video interpretations of Ellams’ work. It’s fascinating to see giant legacy media organizations like the NYT and the Financial Times promote Ellams’ poetry, almost as cover for their ceaseless promotion of the planet-destroying financial and military/industrial machines.