~ J.P. Sipilä ~

Swoon’s View: Videopoetry Workshop at the Annikki Poetry Festival

Last week I had the opportunity to visit Tampere, Finland. The Annikki Poetry Festival had invited me to give a workshop on videopoetry (as well as do a short live reading). The festival asked J.P. Sipilä to select a collection of videopoetry to showcase, and he suggested a workshop by Swoon.

Invitations like these are hard to decline and I want to say thanks to J.P. and to Simo Ollila for getting me there.

photo by Sini Marikki

The objective beforehand was to create a few brand-new videopoems in one day. First I showed some examples of videopoetry and talked about the genre a bit—not too long, though. Doing it is the best way to learn in my opinion.

Experimenting is fun; I showed eight small, one-minute films (animation, film, archive, abstract…) in a loop, asking every participant to write one line (sentence, word, etc.) inspired by each minute of film. So everyone had an eight-line ‘poem’. I made them all pick out one of the minute-long films and let them read their lines aloud during that film. The others could observe, look and listen. It’s a fun exercise to create something ‘right there, right now’. Words suddenly fit a certain shot (though not written for that image). The participants get to experience the importance of timing, the power of coincidence, and, hopefully, the fun of playing with words and images.

After that, four groups were formed to work on projects of their own, making sure each group had someone familiar with film and/or video and someone willing to write. I kicked them out of the classroom with two tasks: go out, film, write, have fun… and come back with two minutes of film and a short poem/text to go with that.

photo by Sini Marikki

Once they were back they started to combine and collect all the material. Choices were made about which visuals to use, while others started to write (inspired by those choices and the things they saw outside). Music and readings were recorded. Each project was scripted out for me to edit.

The room was buzzing. It’s a joy to experience that.

Time’s up!

At night in my hotel room, I edited three of the four videos, following the instructions and scripts the groups had provided me with. The last one was edited by the group at their school/home.

I must say I am very pleased with how it all worked out. Enjoy!

Read a longer account of the whole festival at my blog

Videopoetry and poetry-film events for June

June 5 in Tampere, Finland

Video Poetry Workshop by Swoon (fully booked)

During the workshop day attendees will compose one finished video poem, which will be presented the next day during the video poetry showcase at the Annikki Poetry Festival.

June 6 in Tampere, Finland

Video Poetry Showcase @ Annikki Poetry Festival

Finnish videopoet J.P. Sipilä has curated a videopoetry showcase for the festival. He has selected ten interesting videopoems from artists around the world.
The video poems will be shown nonstop in the underground gallery from 11 am to 8 pm.

June 6 in Boston

Martha McCollough videopoem screening at Away Mission Opening Reception, Atlantic Works Gallery

Martha McCollough ventures into new media (macro lens photography,) new subject (text as image,) and new scale. She will also be showing several video poems. McCollough is a videographer and writer who lives in Chelsea, Massachusetts. Her videopoems have been exhibited internationally, and have appeared in Triquarterly, Rattapallax, and El Aleph

June 8 in Rotterdam

Poetry on / as Film with IFFR @ 46th Poetry International Festival Rotterdam

On Monday, 8 June, Poetry International and the International Film Festival Rotterdam jointly present, for the first time, an evening film program at Cinerama. Poetry on / as Film includes the premieres of two exceptional poet-documentaries: John Albert Jansen brings the life of German-Romanian Nobel Prize winner Herta Müller to the screen, and Wim Brands and Peter Gielissen compose a poignant portrait of the Dutch poet Roni Wieg. Additionally, under the name Poetry Shorts, a selection of short films and animated poems will be screened, including work from the festival poets Tonnus Oosterhoff, Pierre Alferi and Yanko González.

I see that the festival also has a brief video trailer.

June 10, 17, 24 & July 1 in Buenos Aires

Seminario de Videopoesía. Un lenguaje entre la palabra, el sonido y la imagen en movimiento.
Four-week course taught by Javier Robledo. Registration closes June 8.

June 13 in London

Mahu in Video at the Hardy Tree Gallery.

The emerging medium of poetry film or cinepoetry, crossing poetic principles with video art has often been overtaken by limited, dualistic collaborations. This evening aims to screen the more complex understandings of this new potentiality, another weapon in the pocket of the contemporary poet – the moving image. Co-curated by Dave Spittle & Gareth Evans
– Films from Joshua Alexander, David Kelly-Mancaux, Simon Barraclough, Caroline Alice Lopez, Robert Herbert McClean & more

June 18-19 in Montpellier, France

PoeTransFi (Poetry/Translation/Film – Poésie/Traduction/Film) Conference

The aim of this conference, which could also be entitled “The film as poem, the poem as film: A spectrum of translations”, is to revisit the inter-relations between poetry and film, envisaged under the angle of translation, in a broad sense of the term. We would like to pay special attention to questions of rhythm and montage, starting from the work of film directors and film editors who wrote about the topic in recent years, particularly Andrei Tarkovsky and Walter Murch.

June 21 in London

PoetryFilm Solstice at The Groucho Club.
Submissions may still be welcome for this event. Here are the guidelines.

Videopoetry showcase and workshop at Annikki Poetry Festival, June 5 & 6

Annikki Poetry Festival flyerA late addition to the June calendar of videopoetry and poetry-film events. This is the press release by Simo Ollila, the festival producer:

Video Poetry Showcase @ Annikki Poetry Festival on June 6th 2015 in Tampere, Finland

The festival program of 12th annual Annikki Poetry Festival on June 6th 2015 in Tampere, Finland features a special program dedicated to video poetry. The Video Poetry Showcase’s curator, J.P. Sipilä, is responsible for picking the videos shown, which will include classic works of video poetry from the 1970s to today. The video poems will be shown non-stop in the underground gallery throughout the festival.


The artists featured in the Video Poetry Showcase are Artürs Punte (Lithuania), Kristian Pedersen (Norway), Alice Lyons (USA/Ireland), Vessela Dantcheva (Bulgaria), Mariano Rentería Garnica & Raúl Calderón Gordillo (Mexico), Machine Libertine (Russia), Tom Konyves (Canada), Swoon (Netherlands), J.P. Sipilä (Finland) and Jana Irmert (Germany). Read more of the artists: www.annikinkatu.net/runofestivaali/video-poetry-showcase.htm


The Video Poetry Showcase’s curator J.P. Sipilä: “For me video poetry is a genre of poetry where the complete work creates a new overall poetic experience by applying and mixing the elements of film, sound and text. All these ten videopoems present an interesting mixture of the elements,” Sipilä says.

“In the last ten years video poetry has really become more and more known genre of poetry. I would say that it is blooming in all the corners of the world. And I am very happy to see that Annikki Poetry Festival asked me to make this selection for this year’s festival. Video poetry is still a small genre in Finland, but this just might be a beginning of something great…”


As part of the festival a free video poetry workshop will be organized on Friday, June 5th. The workshop will be held by Swoon, a.k.a. Marc Neys from Belgium, who is one of the world’s most renowned video poets. During the workshop day attendees will compose one finished video poem, which will be presented the next day during the video poetry showcase at the Annikki Poetry Festival. Read more: www.annikinkatu.net/runofestivaali/video-poetry-workshop.htm


The Annikki Poetry Festival (est. 2003) has grown to be one of Finland’s foremost poetry events. The festival’s focus is still on poetry, although it has expanded to also include prose, music and the visual arts. Annikki Poetry Festival will be held in the courtyard of the wooden Annikki district in Tampere, Finland on June 6, 2015. The festival’s theme this year is Word Roots. This means that the many events of the festival will reflect on the beginnings and roots of poetry and all verbal art, with folklore being an important focal point. The program features Jamaican dub poetry pioneer Mutabaruka. Read more: www.annikinkatu.net/runofestivaali/english.htm

J.P. Sipilä: Ten videopoems I want people to see

Tallinas iela
by Arturs Pünte (2012)


by AVaspo/Fresco Pictures (2010)


by Machine Libertine (poetry by Natalia Fedorova) (2014)


Abecedario poético
by Mariano Renterá Garnica (poetry by Raúl Calderon Gordilo) (2011)


The Polish Language
by Alice Lyons and Orla Mc Hardy (2009)


The Clinic
by Kristian Pedersen (poetry by Annelie Axén) (2010)


Sympathies of War: A Postscript
by Tom Konyves (1978)


by Javier Robledo (2007)


Anna Blume
by Vessela Dantcheva (main animator Ebele Okoye; poem by Kurt Schwitters) (2010)


by Nico Vassilakis (2005)

Swoon on J.P. Sipilä

Marc Neys’ “Swoon’s View” column at Awkword Paper Cut this month offers an appreciation of the Finnish videopoet J.P. Sipilä — in particular, his recently completed “online poem installation,” Sleight of Tree.

Sipilä creates compositions that generate gentle moving images in relation to poetic texts that leave traces and balances on the edge of recognition. He has discovered innovative approaches to putting poetry on screen. This means re-thinking the relationship of image, sound, and text that move in lyrical spaces, creating multiple ways to experience poetry.

If I only had one word to describe this body of work it would be grace. I don’t do the whole experience justice by separating these two videos from the rest. They do, however, give you a taste.

Click through for the rest.

“Poetry & Film” feature at Lyrikline blog

Lyrikline.org, an international audiopoetry site, is celebrating World Poetry Day with a feature on Poetry & Film at their blog. Since their parent organization, Literaturwerkstatt Berlin, also sponsors the ZEBRA poetry film festival, they were in a good position to solicit statements from a number of practitioners of the art. Begin with their own statement:

Diverse as the entries might be, there’s one thing that all the good ones have in common: they succeed if one can experience in some way a clever and maybe even poetic relationship and correspondence between the words and images. When poetic principles and features, such as rhythm, tempo, meter, imagery, denseness, and tone unfold, poetry and film together can reach another level and merge into something unique.

Then read the statments by Paul Bogaert, Avi Dabach, Tom Konyves, J.P. Sipilä, and Uljana Wolf.

I particularly liked the statement by Wolf, a German poet and past member of the ZEBRA film jury, for its concision and gnomic quality:

Like a translation, and like poetry itself, or perhaps like prose poetry, or the prose poem—already we see the problem here—a poetry film exists in a between-space, a Zwischenraum. It can not be named. It can only be invented with each attempt; its inability to occupy a name or a space or a genre is what generates these attempts to create something that is true to its name. It will fail every time.

But I think the most interesting thing about the feature is the extent to which these diverse filmmakers agree about what makes a good videopoem or filmpoem. There’s far less disagreement among them than one might have supposed.