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Call for entries: 2020 Weimar Poetry Film Prize

As of November 1, the fifth annual Weimar Poetry Film Prize is open for submissions. And this time, it has its own festival.

Through the new film award, the Literary Society of Thuringia and the study field Multimedia narration of the Bauhaus University are looking for innovative poetry films. Filmmakers from any nation and of any age are welcome to participate with up to three short films of up to 10:00 mins, which should explore the relation between film and written poetry in an innovative, straightforward way. Films that are produced before 2017 will not be considered.

From all submitted films selected for the festival competition three Jury members will choose the winner of the main prize (1000 € Best Animation, 1000,- € Best Video). Moreover, an audience award of 250 € will be awarded.

In 2020, the Weimar Poetry Film Prize will be awarded for the first time as part of its own festival – the International Poetry Film Festival of Thuringia – which will take place from May to July 2020 in several cities in Thuringia. The core program (with the award ceremony) takes place from June 12th–14th in Weimar.

The competition »Weimar Poetry Film Award« is financed by Kulturstiftung des Freistaats Thüringen and the City of Weimar.

Deadline: March 31st, 2020

The Form for submissions [pdf] by e-mail to info[at]poetryfilm.de is coming soon.

The »Weimar Poetry Film Award« call for entries is international. For the submission please send with the other informations a quotable text of the related poem in German or English.

Presentation of awards: June 13th, 2020 at the Lichthaus cinema Weimar.


Call for essays: Poetryfilm Magazine

Poetryfilm Magazine, the print and electronic annual comprised of articles first published at the Weimar-based Poetryfilmkanal website, has a new call-out for essays. This year’s theme: Das Kino der Poesie, The Cinema of Poetry.

Dear readers,

At the beginning of May Cinema, a new anthology about the history of cinema, was released by the publisher Elif. Gathering a wide range of texts, authors like José Oliver or Ulrike Almut Sandig express their fascination for cinema in a captivating way. The Poetryfilm Magazine’s new edition wants to address this matter, just in reverse: we would like to dig deeper into the fascination for poetry, addressing the filmmakers’ and directors’ point of view. This direction of looking at the relation between poetry and film seems to have gained significance lately.

We would be neglecting the influence that poetry had on the development of the visual language of film, if we reduced poetry film to a mere translation of a poem into a film. Since the beginning of the 20th century, filmmakers took inspiration from poets and poems, using them as an inspiration, guideline or challenge for creating moving image work.

This “Cinema of Poetry” – the title refers to an influential yet critical text from 1965 by Pier Paolo Pasolini – ranges from independent experimental film to commercially successful authors’ cinema productions, from Stan Brakhage to Jim Jarmusch.

In the endeavor to investigate film making and the film language from the perspective of poetry, directors as well as theoreticians pointed out the differences between the two art forms: the poeticity of written poetry does not in itself make the poetry film poetic. The latter gains its poetic value not only through the simple fact that a poem is part of it or that it refers to or illustrates a poem.

Poetry films can acquire poetic texts by referring closely to or operating far from the text they work with. Films which work close to the text reach their limits once the visual illustration of it seems to double its meaning, making the visuals seem redundant. Films which are inspired by poems lose touch when the reference to the text is too vague or completely absent and the filmmaker’s final aim seems solely to be aimed at creating a poetic visual language.

Our current edition can be understood as a plea to direct our attention to those films inspired by poetry which do not declare a 1:1 translation from the written text to the moving image as their goal. The poetry film is on a quest for its own poeticity. The poetic author’s cinema should be seen as a guidance in this field.


For our next magazine’s edition, we are looking for contributions which might ask: Which impact do the language of film and author’s cinema aesthetics have on the poetry film? Which elements or strategies of using the visual language of film can be adapted to the recitation of a poem? What is the relation between filmic and poetic poeticity? In this regard, are there specific differences between live action and animated films to be found? When does the poetry film reach an original, independent form of poeticity and when is it just a sum of different poeticities? We also encourage studies that examine the importance of written poetry for parts of film history or a certain filmmaker/director and describe the complex transformation process(es) which happen while aquiring a poem in conjunction with moving image making.

We cordially invite any contributions in written form (10.000 characters long, including blanks, avoiding footnotes wherever possible) until Oct 31st.

We are very much looking forward to interesting and inspiring submissions!

Aline Helmcke, Guido Naschert

It appears as if they’ve already posted the first new essay in this vein: “From The Cinema of Poetry to The Poetry of Cinema” by none other than Tom Konyves. Check it out.

Call for submissions: 2019 Weimar Poetry Film Prize

For the fourth year in a row, a major poetry-film contest and associated screenings will be held as part of a multi-day festival otherwise devoted to student films from around the world, in the delightful, culture-rich city of Weimar, Germany. From the Poetryfilmkanal website:


Through the new film award, backup_festival and Literarische Gesellschaft Thüringen e.V. (LGT) are looking for innovative poetry films. Filmmakers from any nation and of any age are welcome to participate with up to three short films of up to 8:00 mins, which should explore the relation between film and written poetry in an innovative, straightforward way. Films that are produced before 2016 will not be considered. From all submitted films selected for the festival competition three Jury members will choose the winner of the main prize (1000 € Best Animation, 1000,- € Best Video). Moreover, an audience award of 250 € will be awarded.

The competition »Weimar Poetry Film Award« is financed by Kulturstiftung des Freistaats Thüringen and the City of Weimar.

Deadline: March 31th, 2018

Form for submissions [pdf] by mail or e-mail.

Literarische Gesellschaft Thüringen e. V.
Marktstraße 2–4
99423 Weimar, Germany
Email: info@poetryfilm.de

The »Weimar Poetry Film Award« call for entries is international. For the submission send with the other informations a quotable text of the related poem in German or English.

Presentation of awards: June 1st, 2019.

Tom Konyves, Kristian Pedersen and Nicholas Bertini at Poetryfilmkanal

Poetryfilmkanal, the Weimar-based website that also produces an annual print Poetry Film Magazine, has posted three new essays in English over the past month. First, the Italian author and animator Nicholas Bertini described the making of his experimental work in New Alphabets:

Encoding and decoding signs and shapes is the main focus of the research behind my work. It’s legitimate to say that communication is based on an alphabet, or better many alphabets, that lead back to writing. But what happens if, instead of a blank sheet having width and height, we have one including the dimension of time? Paradoxically a blank sheet that erases the hic et nunc of a mark, or that can contain hundreds or thousands.

Here shapes and signs, besides appearing in their two-dimensionality can mutate over time, allowing a level of communication that writing as we know it can not transmit. That’s what interests me in my research: the possibility to communicate through signs that can be decoded as new alphabets, thus including movement as part of the alphabet, like a sign or word.

In this process traditional writing is not left aside, there’s no intention to discredit or surpass it. Instead I find myself mixing this two languages, morphing and fusing them together.

On September 3, the prominent videopoet and theorist Tom Konyves weighed in with some Talking Points, which are divided into three sections: “Terms of service”; “Illustration and the function of the image”; and “Performance and the function of the poet’s body on screen”. Konyves’ points are well illustrated with embedded videos. I thought his consideration of literal interpretation in poetry film vs. the more allusive approach of videopoetry proper was especially interesting:

To convey a clear, unambiguous meaning of a pre-existing poem, the most effective visual approach an artist can take is a literal interpretation. While it presents a coherent relationship between word and image, any content on the image-track that is a direct representation of key words in the poem is bound to alert the viewer to a world view that values order, harmony and singular meanings.

Interviewed for BBC’s Sunday Feature: Crossing the Border – Poetry and Film, Alastair Cook commented on his 2013 filmpoem, Lifted, based on the poet Jo Bell’s experience at Lock 30 of the Trent & Mersey Canal, one of a series of canal-themed poems commissioned by the Canal & River Trust: »There is a literalness in this … I am visually illustrating what she is talking about,« which he then qualifies with »but very quietly, very much in the background.« In the background of the work, we can hear Jo Bell’s voice reciting the poem. It is accompanied by a series of (well-composed) shots at Lock 30: the canal, the water, the lock gates closing, close-up of the water, back to the lock gate, back to the water, extreme close-up of the lock gate, back to water, an extreme close-up tilt on the gate, back to water, back to the canal … This series of »establishing« shots does indeed convey the background to Bell’s poem. The shots say simply, quietly, Here. Here is where the poet gathered her observations and subsequently wrote the poem. Without ambiguity, the images connect the viewer with the spatial references in the poem. Jo Bell’s poem comes through unchanged, loud and clear. You have only to listen.

On the other hand, the world view revealed through a »metaphorical lens« cannot accept a coherent, orderly universe. Its approach takes for its subject the critique of conventional word-image associations, organizing its elements – in this genre by enlisting the image-track as the »dominant« element – to make associations surprising and »strange«, to be open to multiple interpretations of these associations and, most importantly, to use the unstable nature of language (the ambiguities in the text) to help us experience a videopoem in a new, playful, indirect way.

And most recently, the Norwegian animator Kristian Pedersen has a craft essay up, Graphic listening — “Visualizing The Bøyg: About my tribute to Oskar Fischingers concept of visual music in my film Bøygen (2016).” Pedersen has always been one of my favorite poetry animators, so it was great to read — and see, thanks to the copious illustrations — where one particular animation of his came from.

When making films tied to poetry or prose, I find abstraction to be a successful vessel. Like music, it can connect directly to emotion, and facilitate individual experience. I always turn to history of visual music – these works of art, some of them close to a century old, still stand as monuments of inspiration. The masters of abstract cinema paved such a vast area of experimentation, and stunningly beautiful works, there is always something new to learn from them. In every case, I always come back to Oskar Fischinger (1900–1967).*

This was especially significant with my visual music short Bøygen of 2016: From deep in the misty Norwegian mountains comes the unnerving sense of numbing apathy. This is The Boyg, in old Norwegian folklore known as a large, invisible serpent that seem to surround you and suggests you avoid challenges. Made famous by playwright Henrik Ibsen, the Boyg is today a term for a formless obstacle; lack of initiative, creeping anxiety or a problem difficult to untangle.

To express an abstract idea with an abstract visual language was a labyrinth of trial and error. But a successful marriage of sound and image can open a doorway directly into the synapses. Research for this project covered both ancient Norwegian folklore and film history. The starting point was a journey to the Center of Visual Music in February 2015.

Fascinating stuff. Do click through and read all three essays.

Flicker film, and a review of the world’s first documentary on videopoetry

Two new English-language articles have recently been published in the online version of Poetryfilm Magazine, the bilingual journal embedded in the Weimar-based Poetryfilmkanal website and released annually in a print and PDF version. UK artist and typographer Jane Glennie, a couple of whose videos I’ve shared at Moving Poems, has an essay titled Flicker film and the videopoem:

A ›flicker film‹, as I have made them and understand them thus far, consists not of moving image footage but of a series of still images presented at around 24 or 25 per second. It could be described as an extremely rapid slideshow. Cinema film is also, of course, still images projected at 24 frames per second, but with the intention of transforming frames into seamless movement, whereas a flicker film disrupts the seamless with disparate frames.

Glennie gives a brief history of the technique, which dates back to 1966, then talks about its relevance today, and to her own practice:

Flicker film can also be perceived as reflective upon the broader culture of the online environment where so much time is now spent. Indeed, Parker’s film was derived from her Instagram feed. Image usage, sophistication and relevance continues to grow rapidly. In 2014, two thousand million photos were shared per day across five key social media platforms, rising to over three thousand million in 2015. Upcoming generations are expected to communicate with images even more than at present (happily videopoetry is part of this ever growing online scene). Flicker film can have instant visual impact in a short length and can capture attention in the brief, ephemeral encounters of social media. For instance, my film Being and being empty (2018) was selected for the world’s first Instagram Poetry exhibition at the National Poetry Library in London. But flicker film also offers challenges to the viewer: what can be perceived each time it is viewed? What images or messages might have entered the subconscious? If I continue to view the film – can I perceive more through practice or ›training myself‹ or do I enter a visual fatigue and ›see‹ less and less? A flicker film can be seen as a test of endurance and the brain’s ability to digest images at speed and through the subconscious. If we are to continue to consume images at ever greater volumes and pace, the flicker film begs the question – what are the limits that human cognition can take? Is there a point at which the message and/or the poetic is lost in the frenzy? I am interested in how the fleeting can be imprinted in the mind and create an overall impression through repetition, the subliminal message, and/or the blurring of the distinctions between discrete elements.

Fascinating stuff. Do go read the whole thing.

The other article was my own, published just yesterday: ›Versogramas‹ and the Possibilities for Videopoetry.

Versogramas, the 2017 film directed by Belén Montero, is apparently the world’s first documentary about videopoetry, and as such, it’s likely that viewers may come to it with heightened expectations which will not be fulfilled. Taken on its own terms, however, I found it a delightful romp with a few glaring defects. It has great potential as a teaching aid in the poetry or film classroom—especially if, as I hope, its official web release is accompanied by links to all the videos and videopoets in the film. It’s also available as part of a bookDVD from Editorial Galaxia (which I have not seen).

Quoting oneself is always a bit awkward, but let me skip over the snarky bit and give one more excerpt:

It’s impressive that the producers can focus on just one part of the world—Spain, especially the Galician region—add a handful of filmmakers and videopoets from outside that region, and still end up with a highly varied, complete-feeling snapshot of the state of videopoetry in the 21st century. […] I liked the rootedness of this approach, and I enjoyed getting a sense of how Spanish and Galician poets and artists have been working with videopoesía in recent years.

And for all its playing around with definitions, Versogramas does not end up providing some kind of unified field theory of videopoetry, thank God. (Though it does give Konyves the last word, as is fitting.) What it does, and does very well, is present us with a series of possibilities: this is what videopoetry might be (the narrative sections); this is what a bunch of actual practitioners have found it to be (the interviews).

I had, of course, much more to say than that. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have seen the documentary, and if and when it becomes generally available online, I’ll be sure to share the link here.

Call for essays: Poetry Film Magazine

Aline and Guido at the Weimar-based website Poetryfilmkanal have released a call for contributions to the fourth issue of their digital and print magazine. The theme this year: Poetry film as art.

We are calling for contributions that deal – exemplary or in general – with the fine art aspects of poetry films. They can discuss individual installations or performances, focus on individual artists or events, investigate traditions of the film and art history or follow up on theoretical discourses. Possible questions could be: Are poetry films works of art or can they rather be regarded as media events in the first place? Is the work or the event character paramount? How is the performativity of the lyrical performance integrated into the closed form of the short film? (Performativity is characterised by the impossibility of repetition. Does this category apply to the medium of film at all?). In how far is the filmic level cracked open in order to go beyond its audio-visual unity? How do installations or interactive works deal with the connection of text, sound and the moving image? Which role does the spectrum of possible associations play when it comes to text-image-relations? We are looking forward to contributions that investigate the realm between performativity and mediality as exemplified by the poetry film.

Essays (10,000 characters long and no footnotes if possible) can be submitted until the end of July.

There’s a lot more to the call than that, so do click through (here’s the German version).

Continental Drift by Nayeem Mahbub

A poetry film written and directed by Bangladeshi filmmaker Nayeem Mahbub. The description reads:

A man rages at memories of war, border crossings, beatings and asylum, at the hard years finding his place in a foreign land. He rages at the cosmic cruelty of having gone through all this for his loved ones, who died crossing the sea before they could join him.

This was brought to my attention by an interview with Mahbub just published at Poetryfilmkanal. A few snippets:

Poetryfilmkanal: Your film was produced within the DOC Nomads program. Tell us about the program and how it influenced or changed your way of film making?

Nayeem Mahbub: Doc Nomads is a unique master’s programme for documentary film directing. It involved living and filming in Portugal, Hungary and Belgium over two years. As you can imagine it was both very challenging and very stimulating. I definitely learned to notice things I had never thought about and to step firmly out of my comfort zone when making films. We were constantly facing language barriers, so thinking about the presence or absence of language and what that means became a default part of our process. The students in the programme became close friends and collaborators, even to this day. So our styles, thoughts and attitudes continue to rub off on each other.


Your film could be understood as a poetry film. But you didn’t consider yourself a poet when you wrote the script? Did you?

That’s true. I was working on an idea about asylum centres in Belgium but was having trouble finding access to tell the subjective kind of story I wanted. Then the combination of a few events I witnessed in Brussels started to come out in a form very similar to the final text in the film. At the time I assumed these would be notes for developing my idea further but I found it very powerful and kept it, with a few refinements. I have to acknowledge my fellow Doc Nomad and friend Sohel Rahman, a Bengali poet and filmmaker, who helped me a lot with refining the language.

Read the rest.

O by Alejandro Thornton

This videopoema by the Argentine artist and writer Alejandro Thornton is — as Tom Konyves puts it in a new essay in Poetryfilmkanal — a “silent, minimalist, prototypical ‘concrete poem'”. Konyves’ description of what’s going on in this video from a viewer’s perspective is the centerpiece of his essay, “A Rumination on Visual Text in Videopoetry,” which also mentions seven other videopoems, all embedded in the post. I’ve never been able to articulate why certain avant-garde videopoems work for me, but I think Tom nails it here: the video depends for its effect on “multiple, ambiguous meanings (the word O, the letter O, the vowel sound of O, an O shape, an expression of an emotion, a graphic representation of some concept like unity, harmony, return, etc.),” and by the video’s end, we should be able “to experience the ambiguous word-image relationship – a static O and a moving landscape – in a spatial context and therefore interpret O as a shape first, and the effect of rotation as a self-referential meaning ascribed to the entire work.”

Finally, there is the juxtaposition of text to image; O, therefore, is a demonstration of a figure-ground relationship in which the letter/shape O is the figure and the ground is – well, the ground (and the cloud-filled sky, and all in motion) of the image. In addition, the ground not only provides the best context for interpreting the meaning of the figure of the text (whose shape it reflects by its rotation) but also demonstrates the contrasted functions: image is from the world, of the world, predetermined and framed just-so or captured by chance from the environment with the function of bringing attention to and expanding the meaning of visual text in such a way that it completes its inherent incompleteness; it functions also as a device of closure, providing the context that leads to a poetic experience of ›greater or lesser value‹, depending on selection, modification, etc.

Nowhere is the juxtapositive function of the image more striking than in videopoems that feature a ›single-take‹; what appears in the frame, the content, automatically provides the context we will need to interpret the displayed text and, by extension, the entire work. My experience of O was enhanced by the recognition that the image element of the work, a found image, captured by chance from the environment, connects the visual text with the external world as the artist perceived it at that spontaneous moment; it is a recorded passage of a particular time in a particular space and, as such, it appropriates a ›slice‹ of the world against which could be written the internal world of thoughts.

Read the rest (and watch the other videos).

This was I think the first English-language essay in Poetryfilmkanal’s current issue on the theme of text in poetry film, but if you don’t know German I recommend using the Google Translate drop-down menu in the sidebar of the site to get the gist of the other recent contributions, each of which adds something to the growing international conversation. Konyves’ essay builds on insights from his manifesto and other, more recent essays. I may not always agree with him, but I admire his capacity for jargon-free original thought, which always gives the impression of being very hard-won, unlike much of the more facile, academic prose one encounters these days.

2nd Weimar Poetry Film Award: A view from the jury

The above video offers a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse of jury proceedings for a film award. Gesticulating happens. Arms are folded across chests. We punch the air.

That’s me in the center, looking more central to the proceedings of the 2nd Weimar Poetry Film Award than I actually was, joined by artist and filmmaker Ebele Okoye (who shot and edited the video) and local writer Stefan Petermann. All three of us had experience in making poetry films; in fact, both my fellow jurors have contributed to films that have taken the Ritter Sport Film Prize for German-language poetry film at the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival, Ebele in 2010 and Stefan in 2016. So I might have been the least qualified of the bunch, with my determinedly amateur approach to videopoetry. But of course I am a blogger, so whatever I may lack in expertise I make up for in opinions — many, many opinions.

We hadn’t met before this past week, but fortunately we hit it off well. In fact, as we re-watched the films one by one in our secret conclave, it turned out that we looked for similar qualities in poetry films and approached them with the same kind of openness. Which is not to say that we weren’t critical, simply that we weren’t nit-picky, and attempted to approach each work on its own terms. In other words — for all you Paul Ricoeur fans out there — we did not so much practice a hermeneutics of suspicion as a hermeneutics of faith.

That said, it was usually a single, significant demerit that allowed us to rule out most of the films and narrow the field of top contenders. In one case, we felt a film didn’t go quite far enough in exploring the potentials of its conceit; in another case, we felt a film went a little too far and basically jumped the shark.

But of course the main job of winnowing had been done in advance by the poetry film award organizers (and editors of Poetryfilmkanal) Aline Helmcke and Guido Naschert, who also joined us in the conclave to answer questions about the films as we watched them. They told us they’d striven to program a stylistically varied selection of films that each pushed the envelope in some sense, and for the most part I think they succeeded. I might have wished for a somewhat larger selection — there were only 16 films out of the more than 200 submitted — but it was an unavoidable situation, because the poetry film screening was just a part of a larger film festival, the Backup festival, which was otherwise focused on films by university students from around the world. Aside from the two screenings of the prize contenders, Guido and Aline had arranged several colloquiums, a presentation of Norwegian poetry films, and a screening of the 2016 Lab/p Poetry in Motion films (which were in fact student productions), so I felt richly rewarded for my time there… to say nothing of the pleasure of making new friends and catching up with old ones.

Aline and Guido left us when it came time to deliberate, but we first sought their advice on whether to split the prize between two or more winners or stick with one. They pointed out that the main purpose of such a prize is to send a message about what we think poetry film should/could be, and the message could be diluted a bit if the prize were split. We found this persuasive.

So then the task became to decide what values we wanted to prioritize. What you’re mostly seeing in the above video is us hashing out whether we wanted to be swayed by the political content of the films or stick with pure aesthetics. We gravitated toward the latter, while recognizing that aesthetics are never really pure but are always colored by one’s outlook and ideology to some extent. I argued that it wasn’t our primary job to send a message about current events, and Ebele and Stefan went along with that.

We were able to narrow the field relatively quickly to the two films that we loved unreservedly, one for its appeal to the head and the other for its appeal to the heart. The former was an experimental film called Standard Time by Hanna Slak and Lena Reinhold, based on a poem by the Berlin-based poet Daniela Seel, and it was this film that we felt deserved the prize because of its riskier exploration of what a poetry film could be. Unfortunately, it’s not on the web quite yet, but here’s what we wrote about it:

Standard Time is a timeless, self-referential meditation on the power of communication to transmute and, at times, distort. Its flawless blend of text, sound and images suggests a worldview both deeply rooted and universal, shamanistic and apophatic. It does what all great poems should do in suggesting more than it says and leaving the viewer’s mind abuzz with creative energy and new ideas. Addressing the poetic possibilities of time as it does, it can almost be seen as a film about poetry film itself.

But experimental techniques aren’t a good fit for every poem, and we felt that the general excellence of the spoken-word poetry film Heartbreak by Dave Tynan with Irish poet Emmet Kirwan deserved a Special Mention. Sure, it’s the most conservative sort of poetry film: basically a narrative short with a rhyming, occasionally on-screen narrator. But the sheer visceral impact of the film is extraordinary, and yeah, we loved the political message. I quoted our statement when I shared it at the main site, so I won’t repeat it here, but you can find both statements and more on the official Winners page at Poetryfilmkanal.

This was my first time as a major contest judge, though I’ve helped select minor literary prizes in the past. I was afraid we might have to settle on a compromise candidate, as is often said to happen, but I guess we got lucky. More than that, the whole festival was a great deal of fun, and I’m grateful to Guido and Aline for choosing such a great program, and for their immense dedication and hard work at the magazine as well, all in the service of advancing the cause of poetry film. Whatever else one might say about contests and awards — and I’ve been as critical as any of the whole culture of literary prizes — they are a great way to focus public attention on a still somewhat obscure but rapidly developing genre.

See also Marc Neys’ view from the 2016 ZEBRA jury.

Die Angst des Wolfs vor dem Wolf / The wolf fearing the wolf by Stefan Petermann

This stunning German poetry film from poet Stefan Petermann and director Juliane Jaschnow is the Film of the Month at Poetryfilmkanal, where it’s written up (in English) by Marc Neys AKA Swoon. He calls attention to

A poem that seems written for the film rather than the other way around. Unless they came together in the process of the making and collaboration, in which case they did a perfect job reinforcing each other ideas. The poem seems to struggle to comply with the imposed visual frame and rubs frantically against the borders of that frame. Like a caged animal looking for a way out. That struggle makes the poem stronger and gives it a strong sense of urge. A narrative poem full of imagination is visually retranslated in an original way.

Read the rest.

New content at Poetry Film Live and other websites

The editors of Poetry Film Live have just released their second issue, which in practice means that four new videos and an interview have been linked from their front page, below an introduction which I’ll paste in here as an added inducement to go visit:

This issue features poetry films from the UK.

The interview this month is with Adam Steiner. We spoke to Adam on the day Disappear Here was being launched. We particularly wanted to find out about the Disappear Here Project, which involved 9 poets, 9 filmmakers and 27 poetry films. We also talked to Adam about his not-for-profit publishing company, his time working for the NHS and his new novel.

Antony Owen is the poet and performer of The Dreamer of Samuel Vale House. Samuel Vale House is next to the ring road in Coventry. It was directed by Adam Steiner and was the poetry film that led to the Disappear Here Project.

Act was written by Maggie Sawkins and was recorded for ‘Zones of Avoidance’, the live literature production which went on to win the 2013 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. Act was filmed by Abigail Norris.

Rachel McGladdery’s poem My Dead Dad is a powerful and moving poem, filmed by Bryan Dickenson. The film gives space for the viewer to take in the words without distraction; Bryan’s aim was for the viewer to ‘defocus’ on the screen.

Martin Evans poetry film Numbers is intriguing – in the Welsh mountains is a numbers station broadcasting in Welsh. Martin explains how numbers stations were used in the Cold War to broadcast on short wave frequencies to spies out in the field. I’ll leave you to enjoy the film and ask the obvious questions ….

Next month there will be international poetry films by Cheryl Gross, Eduardo Yagüe and Lucy English, José Luis Ugarte and Patricia Killelea, plus an interview with Mab Jones who is one of the 9 poets who took part in Disappear Here.

I found the interview with Adam Steiner especially inspirational. Here’s a snippet:

PFL It was said that Disappear Here will ‘make people see the city of Coventry in a different light; whether they are new or have lived here for years. And will inspire others to write/read/experience poetry in its many forms; live and on the page, as well as sparking interest in the new and developing genre of poetry films’. To what extent have these aims been achieved so far?

AS Yes I do think we have done that, by working with great collaborators and the current audiences in Coventry and poets I know here in Coventry. And the people who run the monthly open mike nights are starting to get interesting guests from the midlands and beyond. It is a great way of having our poets working as ambassadors for the city and then poets from other places bringing their stuff here. It’s created whole new collaborations with people publishing other people. I don’t think it will bring loads of people putting pen to paper but I think it will shatter and reinvigorate some conceptions of poetry and what poetry can, or could be, in the future, especially with the films, which are a very accessible and immediate format. If you watch a poetry film, or see a great performance and it stays with you, if a line or two of poetry sticks, it has done its job – if your lines carry on through a person that’s all you can ask for as a poet.

I’ve been giving a lot of attention to Poetry Film Live because they’re new and deserve support, but be sure to keep an eye on other film/videopoetry-related sites, too, or you might miss developments such as:

  • The Haus für Poesie (formerly Literaturwerkstatt Berlin) website has added a new section of pages to its ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival section embedding all the winning films (or trailers) available on Vimeo or YouTube for the complete run of festivals they coordinated, 2002-2014. Start here.
  • So far the new website at zebrapoetryfilm.org has not followed suit. BUT the ZEBRA Poetry Film Club Vimeo channel continues to locate and add films from among all the films ever screened at ZEBRA, a huge undertaking that’s been going on for more than two years now (and which has made my own job as Moving Poems curator much easier).
  • And the ZEBRA Poetry Film Club group on Facebook remains the number one source for international news about the genre. (They’re also on Twitter for the Facebook-averse.)
  • The Vienna-based Art Visuals & Poetry website also regularly adds new content, especially in its Outstanding poetry films section, though it can be a little difficult to navigate. The easiest approach is to subscribe to their partial-content RSS feed for notification of new content, which seems to appear about two or three times a week.
  • Poetryfilmkanal (Poetryfilm Channel), the other major German and English-language website for the genre, is worth visiting at least once a month for their Film of the Month feature. (For those with no German, like me, Google Translate is more than adequate these days for conveying the gist of German prose.) They’re currently soliciting essays on Typography and Text as Image for the third issue of their magazine.
  • The website for the forthcoming VERSOGRAMAS documentary about videopoetry, directed by Belén Montero and Juan Lesta, recently added a page with links to all the videopoets who will be interviewed in the film. (At least, I think it was recent. Since it’s a static page, it didn’t show up in the feed.)

Here’s the latest VERSOGRAMAS teaser, for those who haven’t seen it. For a die-hard videopoetry fan like me, this is more exciting than the latest Star Wars movie trailer:

Call for essays on typography and text as image in poetry film

The Weimar-based, multilingual Poetryfilm Magazine generated as part of the fantastic Poetryfilmkanal website this week issued a new call for submissions. For their third annual issue, they’re looking for essays on Typografie und das Wort im BildTypography and Text as Image.

We are looking for essays dealing with the following questions: Is a text in a poetry film purely functional and underlines or explains the meaning of sound and image? What is the difference between a font in a book and a font in the form of a moving image? What kind of different or additional meaning(s) does it create? What is the relation between a text and other elements that appear in a film – or together in a frame? To which extent does this relation turn the text into a protagonist of the film itself? Why does a filmmaker choose for a particular font? What is the relation between sound, voice-over and other visual elements? How is the balance between reading, watching and listening?

As in the past two editions we are interested in a direct connection to the process and practice of filmmaking. We encourage everyone interested to send us their contributions (up to 10.000 signs and without footnotes if possible) until the end of July 2017.

Read the whole thing.