~ Marie Craven ~

Poetry + Video: a new touring program of international shorts

This week, Australian filmmaker Marie Craven launched Poetry + Video,

a new touring program of shorts from around the world. This hour-long collection surveys diverse contemporary expressions of poetry in video. A wide range of approaches includes: screen adaptations of page poetry, prose poetry, animations, poetry from found text and media, poetic cinema, text-on-screen, and spoken word.

The program is designed to be highly portable, and easily obtainable on request to screening spaces in any location. It is available for small to medium-sized venues in Australia and other places during 2019/2020.

The premiere screening will be on 4 May, 2019 at Garden Gallery, Murwillumbah, Australia. See the program itinerary for more details, including the outstanding live poets performing on the night. If you are in the vicinity of Murwillumbah, we hope to see you there to celebrate the launch!

The website is admirably complete, with bios of authors and filmmakers as well as descriptions of each film, all indexed in the right-hand sidebar. There’s even a trailer. Check it out.

Call for work: The Atticus Review Videopoem Contest

Atticus Review, one of the few major online literary magazines to consistently make room for poetry film and other mixed media work, this week announced a new videopoem contest.

Atticus Review is happy to announce our first annual Videopoem Contest judged by Marie Craven. You can submit up to 3 videopoems. The cost for entry is $15. You may submit video files or links to Vimeo or YouTube pages. Please no submissions from former students or close acquaintances of the Contest Judge. The videopoems can be previously published.

First Prize: $300
Second Prize: $75
Third Prize: $25

Deadline: December 3rd, 2018 Winner Announced: January 7th, 2019


A note about gifting of contest fees: We know contests can get expensive for writers. That’s why we’ve added ways for friends, family, or any kind of generous benefactor (we won’t ask questions!) to gift you a contest entry. A sponsor can make a one-time gift to you for your submission fee, or they can become a Patreon Supporter at the “Sustainer” level or above and then get in touch with us to request a free contest entry for a friend and send us your name and email address. Also, while we’re talking about Patreon, you can become a Patreon Supporter at the “Sustainer” level or above and you will be able to submit to any current or future Atticus Review videopoem contest for free as long as you remain a supporter. Also, you’d be helping us publish great writing and art.

About the judge: Marie Craven began making experimental and narrative shorts in the mid 1980s, working with super 8, 16mm and 35mm film formats. During the 1990s and into the 2000s her work was widely screened and awarded at major international film festivals. Since 2007, she has been working in digital media, mostly via internet collaboration with artists and musicians around the world. A central focus on video poetry began in 2014, and since that time she has made more than 60 videos with many poets from different countries. Her video poetry has since been screened at most of the film poetry festivals internationally, and featured in online journals. Over the decades, she has also been involved in teaching, seminars, reviewing and festival programming. Her recent videos can be found at http://vimeo.com/mariecraven

I like the idea of gifting someone else’s entry fee. And of course I’m chuffed to see such a good poetry filmmaker acting as judge.

“Dictionary Illustrations” by Marie Craven wins 4th Ó Bhéal Poetry-Film Competition

The 2016 Ó Bhéal judges, poet Kathy D’Arcy and filmmaker Rossa Mullin, have chosen a winner: Dictionary Illustrations, by one of my favorite poetry filmmakers, the multi-talented Australian artist and musician Marie Craven. Actually, I’m doubly biased here, because it’s an adaptation of a poem by Sarah J. Sloat, an American poet and journalist living in Germany whose work I love (though sadly she has yet to put out a full-length collection). I’ve featured the video on the main site in the past, but it’s definitely worth another viewing:

This news comes via Twitter and a post on the Ó Bhéal Facebook page, which quotes the judges’ decision:

Dictionary Illustrations was a perfect film poem because, remembering it, we can’t distinguish which parts were the words, which the images, which the sounds: each element harmonised perfectly with the others to create one discrete artwork. This effect is so rare, and so rewarding.

Other recent posts on their Facebook page include photos of the festival, which was apparently well attended. Descriptions of all the films in the competition appear on their website.

Craven had two other films on the shortlist, Joining the Lotus Eaters and One Dream Opening Into Many, so I suppose that gave her pretty good odds, but she was also up against some very tough competition, including a few films I would’ve been nearly as pleased to see win, so huge congratulations to Marie and to Sarah — and to the judges for a tough job well done.

The Art of Poetry Film with Cheryl Gross: “Double Life”

Double Life
poem: Cindy St. Onge
concept & editing: Marie Craven (read the process notes)
music: Purple Planet
images: Prelinger Archives

“The sleeping woman is not the dreamer, because the dreamer smokes…”
—Cindy St. Onge

Sitting in front of the TV watching old movies was a huge part of my childhood. I loved the imagery. It didn’t matter what the storyline was; to me the visuals were the most important thing. That being the case, it’s no wonder why I am so enamored with Double Life by Marie Craven.

There is no voiceover, just words and repeated and mirrored images, hence the title. Craven’s clever use of old footage succeeds in establishing a sense of nostalgia. This is total film noir. Her color palette emulates that of artist Barbara Kruger. Kruger’s work also lends itself to a specific moment in time. Her colors are limited to black, white, grey and red, which Kruger made popular (modern 20th century).

This being a video poem, words do play an important role. Craven uses red subtitles, which further complement her choice of colors. The only criticism I have is the typeface. My guess is she used Helvetica but I may be wrong. I would have liked to see something that better fits the mood. Other than that, Double Life is simple and well done. The music by Purple Planet guides us through this journey of smoke and mirrors. I suggest watching Double Life at least two or three times — first to enjoy the visuals, second to read the poem, and third to experience the two elements together.

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.

The Art of Poetry Film with Cheryl Gross: “Only the Lonely”

Only the Lonely by Marie Craven
Poem and reading by Neil Flatman
Music by Dementio 13

When I first viewed Only The Lonely it reminded me of Marina Abramovic’s work. The message and performance is enticing. However, I find most performance art to be lacking in substance and execution. In this case it does not take away from the underlying theme, which I believe to be uneasiness.

A young woman sits in the middle of a white room. It’s apparent she is filled with anxiety as passers-by speed along. They can probably feel her discomfort thus making her unapproachable. Perhaps her presence is so visibly intense they are afraid to engage on any level.

In terms of the video, again the feeling of angst comes across well. The fact that we have to move through the world is frightening, even if we are just sitting still.

The composition seems to be intentionally centered. Personally I would rather have the artist make better use of the female image, possibly close-ups and various camera angles. This would make it much more dramatic. It’s a short video, and I think too much time is wasted using the zoom. Judging from the wall hangings I assume she is in a gallery performing. I would rather experience her in an airport or office building where people come and go only because they have to. In situations such as these, we accept the sterile atmosphere. A location such as an airport or hospital would connect more to life, rather than staring at a bunch of blank canvases and ignoring a person sitting in the middle of a room. I presume that was the artist’s intention. She is part of the exhibition and the attendees are not comfortable connecting with her on any level.

The avoidance of contact by the audience makes Only The Lonely a thought-provoking piece, but I think it could be stronger. Getting the point across is key, but I do wish the artist had taken it a step further and pushed the envelope. The music is really nice but it doesn’t fit the mood. If this piece is about pain and anxiety then the other media should support it. I feel as if the artist is holding back. Give me something I can latch onto and remember, like a nightmare that keeps reoccurring.

Now if I could only get that Roy Orbison song out of my head.

“Even people who do not read poetry become entranced”: an interview with Laura M Kaminski

This is the 19th in a series of interviews with poets and remixers who have provided or worked with material from The Poetry Storehouse — a website which collects “great contemporary poems for creative remix.” Anyone who submits to the Storehouse has to think through the question of creative control — how important is it to you, what do you gain or lose by holding on to or releasing control? This time we talk with poet Laura M Kaminski.

1. Submitting to The Poetry Storehouse means taking a step back from a focus on oneself as individual creator and opening up one’s work to a new set of creative possibilities. Talk about your relationship to your work and how you view this sort of control relinquishment.

I’m not sure I think of “my work” as mine. Most of the poetry I write is responsive—ekphrasis, conversation poems, nature poetry—poems that try to pay tribute and call attention to whatever inspired them. And frankly, I didn’t recognize that until earlier this year when reading the blurb Jose Angel Araguz wrote for the back of my collection last penny the sun. It would be fair to say I didn’t know what I was doing until another poet put words to it.

But I wouldn’t know that there’s such an amazing thing on this planet as a cuttlefish if Temple Cone hadn’t put one in a poem. And if Ayla Yeargain hadn’t written about the scent of honeysuckle at sundown, I wouldn’t have, literally, “stopped to smell the flowers.” How do I even begin to pay back the people who have brought such wonder into my life? I can’t. I can only try to pay it forward. I’m indebted to The Poetry Storehouse for creating a “scenic route” for poetry—it’s all about pointing and sharing the wonder here.

2. There is never any telling whether one will love or hate the remixes that result when a poet permits remixing of his or her work by others. Please briefly describe the remixes that have resulted for your work at The Storehouse and your own reactions to them.

Nic S. and Marie Craven both remixed “Joining the Lotus Eaters,” and both films used Nic’s reading of it since I wasn’t able to provide a recording with my submission. Nic’s film is haunting to me; I’ve spent a good part of my life in isolated areas and high-desert scrubland, and Nic’s remix uses mostly black and white footage of a young woman hiking alone in high desert, interspersed with short, full-color close-ups of nature at its most lush. My reaction to it was tears — how could she possibly know what it was like for a desert-rat like me to smell honeysuckle for the first time? But there it is, on film: it was just like that.

Marie Craven’s remix uses stills, mostly flowers, that seem to vibrate and dilate in time to the percussion in the soundtrack. It’s all lush, mesmerizing, intoxicating—the heady enchantment of those fragrances, and you can’t stop breathing in. Someone I know who doesn’t usually read poetry watched it and said “I could watch stuff like this all day.”

Nic reached into the poem and somehow extracted and showed me myself, like Jose did in the book blurb. And Marie, she’s serving lotus-blossoms, yes? Even people who do not read poetry become entranced and cannot leave.

3. Would you do this again? What is your advice to other poets who might be considering submitting to The Poetry Storehouse?

I’ve already gained far more than I’ve given in my relationship with The Poetry Storehouse. I’d certainly encourage others to be a part of this adventure in any way they can.

4. Is there anything about the Storehouse process or approach that you feel might with benefit be done differently?

I think the number of participants that have been drawn to The Storehouse in its first year—poets, readers, film-makers—validates the approach. The collaborative atmosphere and opportunities are exciting. It’s working! It’s working!

5. Is there anything else you would like to say about your Poetry Storehouse or any related experience?

It’s hard for me to imagine what it would be like to “hate” a remix—I’m simply in awe of the courage it must take to remix a poem and show it to the poet for the first time. Any other poets who’ve borrowed from Homer want to go back with me and show him how we’ve remixed his work? I’m not sure I’m brave enough to go alone.

Editor’s note: Since this interview was conducted, two more filmmakers have released work made with Kaminski’s poetry. We’ll probably post them to Moving Poems eventually, but in the meantime you can watch them on Vimeo: “Facing the Wall” by Swoon and “Ghosts” by Jutta Pryor.

“I like how pithy the video poem can be”: an interview with media maker Marie Craven

This is the 17th in a series of interviews with poets and remixers who have provided or worked with material from The Poetry Storehouse — a website which collects “great contemporary poems for creative remix.” This time we talk with Marie Craven.

1. Would you briefly describe the remix work you have done based on poems from The Poetry Storehouse?

I have a history with media-making but the video poem is a new form to me. I’ve put together four so far, based on wonderful poems by Janeen Rastall, Nic S., Michael A. Wells and Derek J.G. Williams.* Enticing readings by Nic S. feature. Images are from that marvelous source of historical film footage, the Prelinger Archives. Music is from talented online friends: SK123, 4our5ive6ix, Anguaji and Dementio13. Each of the videos has thus been a collaboration between artists on three continents: USA (poetry), UK (music) and Australia (video). The pieces I’ve put together are all less than one and a half minutes long. I like how pithy the form of the video poem can be.

2. How is The Poetry Storehouse different from or similar to other resources you have used for your remix work?

I have previously spent time on poetry websites but none so attractive to creative remixing as the Storehouse. The two major advantages of the Storehouse to a remixer are: (a) everything is published on a remix-friendly Creative Commons licence; and (b) there are excellent voice recordings available for easy download on the site. On top of this I’ve found a warm and inclusive attitude to remixers. The Poetry Storehouse is great!

3. What specific elements do you look for when you browse offerings at The Storehouse (or, what is your advice to poets submitting to The Storehouse)?

Selecting a poem for a video has been a combination of personal response to the writing and practical considerations relating to available media. There are so many poems at the Storehouse that would be interesting to remix but in some instances suitable images or music are elusive. These are uncontrollable aspects of the process. The main advice is simply to make a voice recording available for download. That’s number one for attracting remixers. Well-recorded audio with good levels is a plus.

4. Talk about how the remixing process comes together for you — for example, does your inspiration start with a poem, or with specific footage, for which you then seek a poem? How does sound play into the picture for you?

In the videos I’ve made, the poem and the voice recording have come first in the process. After that I’ve searched for music and images that might work with these. The mood of the music is, of course, very important. Aside from this I look for music with a key and basic beat to fit with the pitch and general rhythm of the spoken words in the reading. I then like to cut and place the voice to fit with the music before cutting images. Working with archival film material means spending a lot of time searching and viewing films, looking for both literal and lateral connections between poem and images. Once selected, the images become a new rhythmic element in the mix and that involves further fine cutting and adaptation between the elements.

5. Most Storehouse remixers are video-makers who combine a poem with video footage and a soundtrack, but all in very different styles. What have you learned from seeing how other remixers work?

I’ve seen some wonderful videos in my short time exploring the world of The Poetry Storehouse. The main thing I’ve learned is that there are a lot of possible approaches to video poetry and that each remixer has a ‘voice’ of their own.

6. Is there anything else you would like to say about your Poetry Storehouse experience (or anything related)?

MC: I found my way to The Poetry Storehouse via Jutta Pryor and her Pool creative group on Facebook. Jutta, like me, lives in Australia and has recently generated quite a burst of creative exchange on Pool between Storehouse poets, video makers and musicians. This crossover between creative groups internationally has inspired me to participate too. I’m thankful to Jutta, Nic S. and all involved for the experience.

*She’s actually up to seven video poems now (the interview was conducted a week ago). View all of Craven’s videos on her Vimeo page.