~ Connotation Press ~

Interview with Tom Konyves at Connotation Press

In her latest “Third Form” column at Connotation Press, Erica Goss interviews videopoetry pioneer Tom Konyves. Goss’s usual pattern of paraphrasing and quoting from a conversation conducted by telephone gave way here to a more standard question-and-answer format, and the interview delves into aspects of Konyves’ background which were new to me. Here’s how Goss herself summarized it:

In this interview, Tom discusses, among other things, making his first videopoem on ½” reel-to-reel videotape, the medium of video being “unrecognized” by Herman Berlandt, Director of the San Francisco Poetry Film Workshop, what text-image relationships have in common with male-female relationships, and falling in love with language as a child.

I particularly liked the story of how Konyves came to make his first videopoem. But I think the most quotable bit is from the end of the interview:

Text-image relationships are no different from male-female relationships. Sometimes they get along, sometimes they don’t. They get along when they are totally aware of the other’s “potential” as well as their own. For each has the potential to be effective in different ways. They don’t try to overpower the other or usurp each other’s roles in the structure of the work. A particular image provides the only possible context in which the words are intended to be experienced. When they “complete” each other, the work is “pure poetry”. And once you’ve realized that, you will always associate the images with the text of the work. They have become soulmates. How many “video poems” have this attribute? Watch one, then close your eyes and listen to the words. Can you picture the scene? Throughout?

Do go read the whole interview.

Jutta Pryor and Marie Craven featured at Connotation Press

Interviews with Australian poetry-film makers Jutta Pryor and Marie Craven are the focus of Erica Goss’ column “The Third Form” at Connotation Press this month. I’ve long been an admirer of both, so it was interesting to learn about their routes into online collaboration and filmmaking. “Poetry is an inspirational starting point that lends itself to creative interpretation and collaboration by bringing together writers, filmmakers, remixers, sound artists and actors to create poetry film,” says Pryor. And Craven notes that poetry film is “like collage, or quilting. You enjoy the surprise, and never know what you’ll find. I don’t plan things out too much, but let the process dictate the final product.” Go read.

Poet-filmmaker Rachel Eliza Griffiths interviewed at Connotation Press

The March issue of Connotation Press is out today, and with it a new Third Form column by Erica Goss. This time, she interviews a poet and multimedia artist I’ve been especially curious about, having featured several of her films at Moving Poems: Rachel Eliza Griffiths. A couple of snippets:

“Students have a more visual life nowadays. In my creative writing classes, I often have students respond to photos on their iPhones. One day they might examine their own work, and on other days they respond in writing to the photos of other students. It’s very interesting to see what they come up with.” Students write self-portrait poems using, for example, five photos as a gallery. Rachel Eliza asks them, “How does shadow work in a poem? Is it similar to shadow in a photo?”


Rachel Eliza’s current project is P.O.P (Poets on Poetry), a project with 100 contemporary poets who read and comment on poetry, their own and others’. “I wanted videos that showed poets in a better light, quality-wise, than what you often see in archival videos on YouTube, for example. I’m happy that teachers use some of the videos as part of their lesson plans.” P.O.P includes poets such as Cornelius Eady, Tina Chang, Michael Dickman, Marilyn Nelson and Terrance Hayes.

The interview includes commentary on some embedded films. I was especially struck by Griffiths’ description of how she came to make Incident, her contribution to the #BlackPoetsSpeakOut movement. And I was excited to hear that she plans a triptych of new videos in support of her upcoming collection of poems. Check it out.

Poetry filmmakers Sina Seiler and Eduardo Yagüe featured in The Third Form

This month in her Third Form column at Connotation Press, poetry-film critic Erica Goss profiles and interviews two filmmakers who should be familiar to regular readers of Moving Poems: German documentary filmmaker Sina Seiler and the Spanish freelance director and poet Eduardo Yagüe. I learned a lot about both directors. For example,

Sina served as an intern at the 2008 Zebra Poetry Film Festival, and was involved in the pre-screening process (no small feat, as Zebra receives close to one thousand submissions). She remembers how it felt to watch so many poetry films: “It was so great that something like this existed. I immediately had the idea to make my own poetry film.” “Elephant” is the result, based on a poem Sina wrote. She added, “I have been writing poems since I was young, but I didn’t publish them – they were just for me. Nothing commercial.”

And this about Yagüe:

Eduardo’s influences include the German choreographer Pina Bausch, the British performance group DV8 Physical Theatre, and the work of Samuel Beckett. Themes of emotional and sexual tension are evident in Eduardo’s work, which his many talented actor friends aptly express.

“I know a lot of actors,” he said. “I am lucky that they want to be in my films. I love actors and poetry, so that’s what I want to do: mix the things that I love. And most actors are comfortable with poetry. We study poetry; it helps us learn to speak properly. Much of the spoken part of theater is poetry: Shakespeare, for example.”

Do read the rest (and watch the films). What each filmmaker has to say about their process is especially interesting.

Erica Goss on ZEBRA 2014

Poet Erica Goss’s Third Form column in Connotation Press this month is devoted to her impressions of the 7th ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival, and includes a short interview with ZEBRA’s artistic director Thomas Zandegiacomo Del Bel as well as a list of “ten video poems from the festival that deserve attention.” The majority of these have yet to appear on Moving Poems, so do check it out.

New Third Form, Swoon’s View columns

September’s edition of “The Third Form,” Erica Goss’ column on videopoetry at Connotation Press, features interviews with two people whose work I’ve been following for a long time. Yorkshire poet Gaia Holmes (Moving Poems archive) was among the first poets to have her work animated for Comma Press back in 2006, and she’s been a consistent favorite of British poetry filmmakers over the years — a good example of how emerging poets or those from outside the establishment can get a big boost in visibility by letting their works be adapted for film.

“I don’t have any say about the videos,” she said. “I’m not involved in their making. I go to the screening and there’s the poem, but I’m happy it turns out that way. When a poem is out in the world, it’s open to anyone’s interpretation. For example, the video for ‘Occasional China’ takes the poem in a completely different direction from what I imagined.”

In the the second half of her column, Goss talks with American poet, filmmaker and digital literature expert Matt Mullins (Moving Poems archive), whose work first caught my eye back in 2009 — the year he discovered videopoetry, it turns out. The interview focuses on a series of three films he’s made collaboratively with the Belgian filmmaker Swoon (Marc Neys).

“I gave Matt several videos with music and said he could re-edit them, add new music, combine as he saw fit,” Swoon said. “The videos I sent Matt were finished products and/or experiments that were not properly used before. They might have never seen daylight if it wasn’t for Matt’s vision and creativity to breathe a new and different life into them.”

Click through for the full interviews and to watch the films.

Speaking of Swoon, I was pleased to see another installment of his column on videopoetry, as well. This month at Awkword Paper Cut he examines “The ephemeral worlds of Sandra Salter & Benedict Newbery,” a British animator-poet team who have made two films so far, both striking for their use of watercolor and a certain quality which Neys characterizes as “simple and naïve, almost. But … rich and … full of life.” As usual with a “Swoon’s View” column, his experience and insider perspective is invaluable, e.g.:

I’ve seen this video on different occasions, in different venues. On large screens, on small screens. It never fails, never disappoints. I rarely saw an animated video that came this close to imitating real life, yet not looking like it.

These videos prove that big budgets are not always needed to deliver fantastic work. A warm love for the words, intelligent use of sources and a playful feel for rhythm and illustration can do so much more than money.

Read the rest.

The Poetry Storehouse featured in Connotation Press

As regular visitors to Moving Poems know, the Poetry Storehouse is an increasingly important, curated online meeting-place for poets and poetry-film makers. This month in her Third Form column at Connotation Press, videopoetry critic Erica Goss takes a look at five pairs of videopoems that each use and respond to the same text from the Storehouse.

Third Form and Swoon’s View columns feature poetry documentary projects

As usual, the first of May saw new columns by Erica Goss and Marc Neys in their respective columns in Connotation Press and Awkword Paper Cut, and as usual, both were well worth checking out. What was more unusual is that each columnist chose to focus on a documentary-stye poetry video. In her “Third Form” column, Goss interviewed the makers of a fascinating Pakistani film (which I included on Moving Poems several months ago), Danatum Passu, by Shehrbano Saiyid and Zoheb Veljee. I was especially struck by the fact that it all started by chance, which is how so much good art gets made, I think. And the technological challenges of filming and recording in the remote Hunza valley makes for an entertaining and inspiring story. Here’s a snippet:

“No one has ever recorded the people of the Hunza – at least their music – before,” Zoheb said. The video tells the story of a poem written by Hunza poet Shahid Akhtar, transformed into a song, and sung by the children of Passu and nearby small towns. “Danatum Passu” loosely translates to “Passu’s Open Field.”

The poet, Shahid Akhtar, writes in Wakhi, a language derived from ancient Persian. He worked in obscurity until now, and has never before been published. Zoheb and Shehrbano discovered him via a tip from a local cab driver. “There are few land lines and limited cell connectivity where Shahid lives,” Zoheb said. “I had to wait for him for hours after I arrived, drinking tea with his relatives.” Akhtar’s song, “Danatum Passu,” is the theme of the video, and carries a message of the danger of losing one’s culture. “It has a strong impact when children sing it,” Zoheb said.

“Danatum Passu” is part of a longer documentary that Shehrbano is working on about spirituality and music in this part of the world. “Theirs is a singing community: music and religion are wound together. The children gain confidence through music and performing. They have exposure to music through early religious training,” she said. “The story is about the musicians of Gojal, the socio-economic challenges they face in their daily lives, and in bringing their talent to a wider global audience. The documentary focuses on children – two in particular – with a love for music, and shows Zoheb’s process of discovering and recording music, poetry and artists. He is the thread that binds together the musicians, the unity and diversity of music across Gojal.” The documentary uses music to demonstrate the area’s people and their “deep sense of pride for their land and heritage,” especially in the face of repeated natural disasters; for example, the 2010 landslide that hit the Gojal village of Atabad.

Do read the rest.

Meanwhile, in his “Swoon’s View” column, Neys describes another documentary about kids, these ones in Britain: We Are Poets, by Alex Ramseyer-Bache and Daniel Lucchesi.

In the age of Facebook and digital communication, a remarkable group of British teenagers have chosen to define themselves through one of the most ancient, and potent, forms of culture out there – the spoken poem. WE ARE POETS intimately follows the lives and words of the UK’s multi-ethnic noughties generation as the Leeds Young Authors poetry team prepare for a transformational journey of a lifetime, from the red bricked back streets of inner city North England, to a stage in front of the White House at Brave New Voices – the world’s most prestigious poetry slam competition. Anyone tempted to dismiss today’s youth as politically apathetic better pay heed – here is electrifying evidence to the contrary.

Lucchesi and Ramseyer-Bache did a good job creating a narrative line in the film (the Leeds Young Authors performance in the competition creating the needed tension) but they kept the structure loose enough to give the characters and scenes time to develop and breathe.

The whole film is heartfelt and every performance is raw and attractive. If you don’t have any interest in spoken poetry, you should really try to see this film because it might open you up to a whole new view on this form of poetry. You’ll get sucked into it each time someone stands in front of the mic and belts out another beautiful stanza.

Read the rest and view the trailer.

Twin-sister videopoetry collaborators featured at Connotation Press

For her Third Form column at Connotation Press this month, Erica Goss interviewed Cecelia and Justine Post, the artist and poet behind the videopoem/book trailer Beast (which I also shared at Moving Poems a few weeks back).

Poet Justine Post and her identical twin sister, artist Cecelia Post, collaborated on the video book trailer for Justine’s poetry collection Beast, just out from Augury Books. I spoke with Justine and Cecelia separately in February about the video, collaborations, and being twins in two creative, distinct yet overlapping disciplines.

“Many of our memories are the same since we were together all the time growing up. I often use ‘we’ instead of ‘me.’ We even share the same dreams. We live apart now but we are still very connected,” Justine told me. She is currently earning her PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Houston, and her sister is a visual artist who runs Fowler arts collective in Brooklyn. According to Cecelia, “Justine’s poems articulate my visual work, and we understand our work better through each other.”

“I think poetry and the visual arts are well-fitted,” Justine said. “I always loved Cecelia’s video, ‘You Made Me (Sewing).’ I pushed my sister to finish it. The poem and the video tell different stories, but they enrich each other.” In the video, a young woman (played by Cecelia) sews herself into a nylon, flesh-colored bodysuit while the narrator (Justine) reads Justine’s poem “Self-Portrait as Beast.”

Read the rest.

Introducing Silicon Valley to the world of videopoetry

In her “Third Form” column in Connotation Press this month, Erica Goss reports on her experience introducing an audience of book-lovers to videopoetry. A number of towns and cities around the United States now have community book clubs. Silicon Valley Reads is one such program, and their theme for 2014 is “Books & Technology: Friends or Foes?” So Goss, as Poet Laureate of Los Gatos as well as videopoetry critic and connoisseur, gave a presentation one evening last month called “Off the Page.”

I selected nine video poems that I felt represented the art form well, but kept in mind the fact that most, if not all of the audience had never seen anything like this before. I wanted videos that were accessible, not too challenging, visually stunning, and that showed a variety of approaches: animation, archival film, and documentary-style, to name a few.

Goss also created a kinestatic video using a crowd-sourced collage poem with 100 lines contributed by local residents describing the changes in the Santa Clara Valley/Silicon Valley landscape. She showed that first, followed by the nine videos:

Some were newer and some were old favorites. The album is on Vimeo. In selecting these videos, I wanted them to flow from familiar film style (The Barking Horse) through archival film (Need) to animation (The Trees) and end on a high note (Danatum Passu). I added brief commentary to each video.

Many of the audience members wanted more information about making their own video poems, and wondered if there was a class they could take. This made me think that there might be a need for instruction outside of video poetry festivals. (Anyone want to help me design a video poetry course?)

It was gratifying to hear how well this program was received. There is of course no such thing as a typical audience, and residents of Silicon Valley might be especially atypical in some respects, but I think one of the great promises of videopoetry and animated poetry has always been this perceived potential to reach literate audiences who are not necessarily hardcore fans of contemporary poetry. That seems to have have happened in at least one American community last month. Check it out.

Filmpoem news: 2014 Festival in Antwerp (call out); feature in The Third Form; Hidden Door

The Filmpoem Festival, which debuted last August in Dunbar, Scotland, will be moving to Antwerp this year in partnership with the Felix Poetry Festival. The organizer, filmmaker and artist Alastair Cook, has just posted a call for submissions [PDF]. The deadline is May 1st, and the festival will be held on Saturday, June 14th in the FelixPakhuis in Antwerp.

In other Filmpoem-related news, Erica Goss’ “Third Form” column on videopoetry this month takes an in-depth look at Alastair’s work, including some of his best films and quotes from a telephone interview. Check it out.

And finally, as it says on the Filmpoem website, “Filmpoem has been invited to close the upcoming Hidden Door festival on 5th April 2014″ in Edinburgh. Alastair made the following show reel for the event, using a text from the Scottish poet Morgan Downie:


Do join the Filmpoem group if you’re on Facebook.

Todd Boss’ “Arrivals and Departures,” The Poetry Storehouse, and “12 Moons” featured at Connotation Press

Erica Goss‘ monthly column on videopoetry at Connotation Press, The Third Form, focuses this month on “three video poetry projects … that demonstrate how talent, collaboration and the DIY spirit continue to expand this art form.”

Viewers will see poetry films projected on the gigantic backdrop of St. Paul’s Union Depot train station. Todd Boss, poet, co-founder of Motionpoems and public artist, has embarked on an ambitious project called Arrivals and Departures. The historic Union Depot, saved from demolition and now the focus of a $243 million project, will get the video poetry treatment from Todd and his crew beginning in early October.


The Poetry Storehouse is Nic S.’s latest venture. Well-known for her vocal interpretations of poetry and for her innovations in the world of video poetry and poetry publishing via the nanopress, Nic said that “the idea came about through a couple of conversations I had about poetry, collaboration and influences.” One of those conversations, with poet and rabbi Rachel Barenblat, got Nic thinking about a place where people could contribute their poetry with the specific agreement that it be used in another artwork. The result was The Poetry Storehouse. Launched in October 2013, it’s already well-stocked and ready for remixing possibilities.


Finally, I have had the honor to be part of a team that includes Kathy McTavish, Nic S., and Swoon (Marc Neys). 12 Moons is based on twelve poems I wrote, one for every month of the year, with vocals from Nic, music from Kathy, and video plus concept and editing from Swoon. One by one, the team members added their parts: Nic made haunting, poignant recordings of each poem, to which Kathy added the soul-stirring music of her cello. Marc took those building blocks and added his special magic: combing through the archives of public access, vintage film to choose just the right scenes, plus adding his own film, he created twelve videos that explore one person’s life, month-by-month. I blogged about this in several posts at Savvy Verse and Wit.

Read the rest.