~ REELpoetry ~

Where to watch poetry films in April

April is Poetry Month in the U.S. and Canada, so it’s no surprise that a couple of major poetry film festivals are held then. First up: Houston’s REELPoetry Festival.

Online April 1-5, 2024
In Person April 6-7, 2024
922 Holman St, Houston, TX 77002
REELpoetry/HoustonTX 2024 is an international poetry film Festival. This week long event showcases 100+ screenings under 6 minutes from 20 different countries. Connect with international curators and presenters in real time online, and in-person on the weekend; watch world premieres from Houston creatives; experience ASL poetry and performances; join use for two fabulous after parties.

Then toward the end of the month, it’s Seattle’s Cadence Video Poetry Festival.

Verse meets visuals in motion at Northwest Film Forum (NWFF) in April 2024. Cadence Video Poetry Festival, presented by Northwest Film Forum, programmed in collaboration with Seattle author Chelsea Werner-Jatzke and intermedia artist Rana San, is a series of screenings, workshops, and discussions on the genre of video poetry, taking place annually during National Poetry Month. This year’s festival takes place in-person April 19–21 and online April 19–28. Cadence approaches video poetry as a literary genre presented as visual media, cultivating new meaning from the combination of text and moving image.

In its seventh year, Cadence Video Poetry Festival remains the only festival dedicated to the form in the Pacific Northwest. The festival program includes four themed screenings with works selected from an open call for submissions, including video poetry by the 2024 screening team and jurors.

“This year, we did away with the submission categories the festival has had in place for the last six years. Moving away from submissions organized by how they were made (collaboration, video by poets, etc) places further emphasis on what is being made in the video poetry genre,” says co-director Chelsea Werner-Jatzke. “For the first time, a screening team of prior Cadence Artists-in-Residence helped program the festival, broadening the diversity of perspectives considering the video poetry that is screened as part of Cadence.”

“The 2024 festival includes video poems from 20 countries in 11 languages with a strong Pacific Northwest contingent, a quarter of the works representing artists based in Washington, British Columbia, and Montana,” notes co-director Rana San. “In conjunction with the online and onsite festival screenings and workshops, there will be gatherings for artists and audiences to connect in-person and virtually. We’re also collaborating with Frye Art Museum again to host a special satellite screening and artist discussion in May following the fest.”

Meanwhile, in Weimar, Germany, though details so far remain scant, one is advised on the Poetryfilmtage Instagram account to

SAVE THE DATES – Lit.Collage x Poetryfilmtage 2024

This year we are setting with „Lit.Collage“ a special accent. The collage and poetry festival is combined with our film festival and is meant for those who enjoy experimenting with editing techniques and sharing them with others.

…so as you can see: this year we have a lot more action going on and you can join our festival from the 13th of April till the 1st of June. Make sure you’ll save the dates! 🤩

More details on the individual events will follow soon.

It’s great that people anywhere in the world with a good internet connection can virtually attend these festivals, but I am just as excited by another new trend: more and more general poetry festivals are including film and video in various innovative ways. In Madison, Wisconsin, for example, the Hawthorn Public Library will be screening “some of our favorite video poems featured in the first four years of the Midwest Video Poetry Fest,” and in Newtown, Pennsylvania, poet Vasiliki Katsarou will be screening her feature film Fruitlands 1843. So be sure to support your local poetry scene!

Festival circuit round-up

It’s the New Year and perhaps a good time to be thinking about film festivals and competitions. Is this the year you will enter for the first time? Or to bring an, as yet, unseen project to light? Or to think about what new films you might create in 2024 …

But first, with a quick pause for thought (or maybe to take the actions suggested) – here is a throwback to a lovely little film posted on Moving Poems way back in 2012.



And now, here are the major festivals for poetry films coming up for entry (linked to their FilmFreeway page where you will find more details). Some were first posted earlier when the calls initially went out (but a reminder that the deadline is coming up closer), and others are fresh!

Remember to check all the rules of entry carefully to make sure you comply (or it is just irritating for the organisers), and make your own judgements on whether to enter.  These are all established events, but be aware that there are some dodgy festivals out there that have little merit in getting your film exposed to an interested audience but will take hefty sums in entry fees.

No need to rush it either … festivals and deadlines are an ongoing roll, and if you miss one, there will always be another festival or another year that comes along. Often there is a long or an unlimited timeframe in which a completed film will be eligible, and no impact if you don’t get on the case immediately.

Read more about entering festivals in this past interview with Adam Stone on Moving Poems.

Wishing everyone good luck in 2024!

Call for entries: REELpoetry/HoustonTX 2024

REELpoetry 2024 logoThe Public Poetry organization in Houston, Texas has announced the opening of submissions to REELpoetry/HoustonTX 2024 on FilmFreeway:

REELpoetry/HoustonTX 2024 is an international, curated, hybrid poetry film festival taking place online APRIL 1-4 and in person APRIL 5-7, 2024. We explore the intersection of poetry and film or video with artists working solo or collaboratively, on a cell phone or in a studio, with new or remixed or previously created work. Everyone worldwide is invited to submit their best work, created in the past or the present, up to a maximum of 6 minutes

In addition to open submissions, the festival includes a series of 40 minute themed curated programs, premieres, commissioned collaborations, deaf slam, live readings, craft workshops, poet+filmmaker talks, deaf+hearing panels and networking cafés. Screenings stream on-demand three more weeks.

REEL’s on the radar of curators and presenters and festival directors from Australia to Canada, from Ireland to Mexico, and you can connect with them at parties and premieres in person or at REELcafes in real-time online.

We’ll be screening juried open submissions in two unthemed categories — one being poetry films or videos under 4 minutes, and the second 4 to 6 minutes in length.

NEW! NEW! This year there’s a themed submission category for work inspired by the concept of “Juxtaposing Reality.” Think about elements, events, ideas, people, places that belong together–or don’t—now, in the past, and/or in the future.

We’re excited to see your work, and it’ll be great to see you online or in person at REEL 2024! REELpoetry/HoustonTX is a project of Public Poetry (publicpoetry.net).

Awards & Prizes

Prizes in cash will be awarded in four categories: poetry film/ videos under 4 minutes; poetry film/ video 4 to 6 minutes, responses to our theme and Audience Choice.

Official Selection REELpoetry laurels look great added to any poetry video or film!

Rules & Terms

1. All Entries must be 6 minutes or less, including credits. No exceptions.

2. You can submit in any language, but an English translation must be included.

3. We accept both new and pre-existing work or a repurposed combination of both.

4. For screenings to be accessible to the deaf, you must show the poem either on-screen or captioned. Poems that are spoken must include written text.

5. Filmmakers may use footage in the public domain from sites like Creative Commons (creativecommons.org)

REELpoetry 2023: Ecopoetry Films & Subjectivity

Ecopoetry Films & Subjectivity is the title of a group discussion to be given by Ian Gibbins (Australia), Mary McDonald (Canada) and Sarah Tremlett (UK), as part of this year’s REELpoetry, a festival for videopoetry in Houston, USA.

These highly esteemed artists and thinkers will be discussing approaches to making poetry films in relation to the theme of ecopoetry and subjectivity. The full discussion will be streamed at REELpoetry on Sunday 26 February at 6:30-7:15pm (Houston time). The full festival program and more information is here.

The trailer:

Festival: Reel Poetry 2023

The Reel Poetry Festival programme for 2023 is now online.

The organisers say:

REELpoetry/HoustonTX 2023 is a four day international, curated, hybrid poetry film/video festival taking place online and in person FEBRUARY 23-26, 2023.  In addition to juried open submissions, we also feature programs by invited guest curators & presenters, ASL poetry and performances, craft triads, networking, panels and more.

Call for work: REELpoetry 2023, Houston USA

REELpoetry/HoustonTX 2023 is an international, curated, hybrid poetry film festival taking place online and in person from 24-26 February 2023. The event has been running for five years. The organisers say:

“We explore this genre with poets, videograpers and filmmakers working solo or collaboratively, on a cell phone or in a studio, with new or remixed or previously created work. We’re inviting open submissions, and also featuring screenings from invited guest curators, deaf poetry, films about poets or a particular poem, as well as Q&A with poets, videographers and filmmakers, networking, live readings, panel discussions, and more.”

This year’s festival is not themed, and submissions are invited up to a maximum of six minutes. Prizes will be awarded in two categories: poetry film/videos under four minutes, and poetry film/video four to six minutes long.

REELpoetry/HoustonTX is a project of Public Poetry publicpoetry.net

Submissions via FilmFreeway: https://filmfreeway.com/REELpoetry2023

waxing gibbous 97% illuminated by Yolanda Movsessian

This film by Mitchell Collins, with poetry and recitation by Houston-based poet Yolanda Movsessian, won the Judge’s Prize at REELpoetry Houston 2022.

REELpoetry/HoustonTX 2021 begins February 24

I’ve been remiss in so much lately, but especially in reporting on the various online poetry film festivals here. In part, this is because my own internet connection isn’t really up to the challenge of taking in such things. But if you’re fortunate to live somewhere with better WiFi, you don’t want to miss the REELpoetry festival, 24-28 February. Check out the full and varied program (and note that all times are in GMT -6). In addition to screenings of the competition films, there’s an interview with Sarah Tremlett, author of a forthcoming book on the poetics of poetry film; a selection of films from Scotland’s StAnza International Poetry Festival; two fabulous multi-filmmaker projects, Chaucer Cameron’s Wild Whispers and Lucy English’s Book of Hours; and more. As their official description notes, “REELpoetry is a dynamic 5 day curated international festival featuring collaborations among filmmakers, poets, musicians and artists to create poemfilms and videopoetry […] screening short pieces from 26 countries and 68 creatives including 9 from Houston. Networking opportunities in real time each day, interactive workshops, talks, Q&A.” Check it out.

Festivals, Competitions, Journals: Open for Submissions

Source: Thomas William, Unsplash
Source: Thomas William, Unsplash


Festival Fotogenia, Mexico
Entry fee: US$25
Submissions close: 20 September 2020

Versi di Luce, Italy
Entry fee: US$10
Submissions close: 30 September 2020

Deanna Tulley Multimedia Prize, USA
(from Slippery Elm Literary Journal, University of Findlay, Ohio)
Entry fee: US$10
Submissions close: 30 September 2020

Queensland Poetry Festival: Film & Poetry Challenge, Australia
(for Australian artists)
Entry fee: AUD$15
Submissions close: 10 October 2020

Mayflower 400 Poetry Film Competition, UK
Entry fee: free
Submissions close: 19 October 2020

Helios Sun Poetry Film Festival, Mexico
Entry fee: US$15
Submissions close: 31 October 2020

Athens International Poetry Film Festival, Greece
Entry fee US$6
Submissions close: 27 November 2020

REELPoetry Festival, USA
Entry fee: US$15
Submissions close: 15 December 2020

International Migration & Environmental Film Festival, Portugal
Entry fee: US$20.50
Submissions close: 31 January 2021

Caafa International Film Festival, Nigeria
(for African and African-descended artists)
Entry fee: US$10
Submissions close: 18 June 2021

Twenty Times by Caroline Rumley

This deservedly won the Audience Award at the 2020 REELpoetry/Houston TX festival in January, where I first saw it and was moved by the juxtaposition of disturbing imagery — either actual police body camera footage, or a very good simulacrum of it — with the speaker’s sedate description of her own backyard: a powerful indictment of the racism and class divisions permeating American society, where Black men risk death by police or vigilante shooting every time they go out the door, even into their own grandmother’s backyard. Rest in peace, Stephon Clark. I wish this videopoem didn’t still feel so necessary and relevant.

Twenty Times was runner-up in the Atticus Review 2019 Videopoem Contest. Marc Neys, the contest judge, wrote:

“Twenty Times” is a powerful political and poetic video. The use of ‘lo-fi’ imagery adds to the suspense and darkness of the video. The contrast with the every day life described in the poem sets the perfect base for the message.

Click through for a bio of Rumley, and visit her website for links to all her films.

Árbol de Diana (Diana’s Tree) by Alejandra Pizarnik: three excerpts

Dave writes: This is una mirada desde la alcantarilla / a glimpse from the gutter, the first Moving Poems production directed by Marie Craven. Alejandra Pizarnik‘s brief poems in Árbol de Diana and other collections have been a huge influence on my own writing, but I was never quite satisfied with the video I made back in 2016 for the excerpts included here. I did however like the translation and readings, done with the assistance of the London-based translator Jean Morris. They were part of the Poetry From the Other Americas series at Via Negativa, a collaborative translation project that gave rise to many of the films I wanted to feature in the Poesía sin fronteras screening at Houston last weekend. So I asked Marie, who hadn’t been part of that project, whether she might want to remix or completely re-do the film, and was delighted when she said yes.

The resulting film helped me see what might have been wrong with my own film: too few images, I think, and neither of them quite strong enough to keep up their end of a dialogue with these verses. Marie’s film shows the importance of thinking laterally, by instinct and rhythm. I was pleased that she ended up retaining my and Jean’s voiceovers; Jean’s success in evoking the vulnerable quality of Pizarnik’s own voice was a stand-out feature of our original film, I thought. But Marie’s re-interpretation ended up being a much stronger fit than that earlier effort would’ve been with the other films in the program.

Two Spanish filmmakers have also had a go at Pizarnik’s micropoetry: Eduardo Yagüe, with Piedras verdes en la casa de la noche, and Hernán Talavera, with Todo hace el amor con el silencio: tres poemas de Alejandra Pizarnik.

Marie writes: A few weeks ago, Dave Bonta invited me to participate in the “Poetry Without Borders” program at REELpoetry, by making a video remix of his 2016 piece, “A Glimpse from the Gutter”, from three poems by Argentinian poet Alejandra Pizarnik (1936-1972). Having previously made a number of films with Dave’s poetry, and being involved in some of his wider projects, I was keen to rise to the challenge.

Like the majority of Australians, I speak only the dominant English. Nonetheless, this is the sixth film I’ve made involving different languages. My interest in doing this has arisen in part from a personal impulse to in some way transcend the xenophobia and racism that has long been a lamentable aspect of my own geographically-isolated culture. Aside from this, and despite being in my late 50s, I retain a child-like wonderment that our single human species communicates in so many richly varied ways. In addition, my film-making over 35 years has been largely directed towards international audiences, via the film festival circuit, and now also the web, where poetry film has by far its greatest reach. I also simply love the expressive sounds of different languages as a kind of music.

Dave translated Pizarnik’s poems with advice and in discussion with Jean Morris, a poet and professional translator. Jean voiced the poems in Spanish, while Dave spoke them in English. For my film, I retained only the text and voices, which I re-arranged and mixed with new music and images. I have remained true to Dave’s impulse in his earlier piece to make a truly bilingual film, spoken in both Spanish and English, and therefore without the need for subtitles.

As in a number of my films, the raw images were sourced from Storyblocks, a subscription website with a vast library of short, random clips from videographers in many different countries. The collection of shots I selected were then transformed via changes to speed, light, framing and colour, and the addition of long dissolves that blend and juxtapose the images via superimposition.

Some of the images I selected touch on the literal meanings of the poems. These direct connections of image to text are sometimes seen at moments other than when they are spoken. The film also contains a number of shots that bear no direct relation to the words. My overall impulse was to create a series of moving images that might form a kind of visual poem in themselves, while remaining connected to the resonances I found in the text and in the qualities of the voices. The final visual element is a faintly-flickering overlay containing animated x-rays of human anatomy.

The music is an ambient piece by Lee Rosevere, who for several years has generously released much of his music on Creative Commons remix licenses, enabling film-makers and other artists to create new works incorporating his sounds. I chose this piece for its slow pace, beatlessness and meditative quality, that left room for the voices to take by far the greatest prominence.

I am delighted to have especially made this film for REELpoetry, where it had its world premiere.

Your Dog Dies by Raymond Carver

When I saw this videopoem by the Spanish director Juan Bullón the other week, I immediately knew I had to include it in a screening I was curating for REELpoetry/Houston TX called Poesía sin fronteras / Poetry Without Borders. Though otherwise focused on Latin American poetry, the theme of the program was “translation, otherness, identity and death in cinepoetry from across the Americas”, and it made sense to close with a gringo poet’s take, especially given how well Bullón’s choice of mirrored images echoed some of the other films in the program. Also, it was good to end on a slightly lighter note than some of the more melancholy, slow-moving films. I’m happy to report that the audience loved it.

As part of the extensive notes in the online version of this program, I asked directors to share any thoughts they might have on translation and/or poetry filmmaking. Here’s what Juan told me:

I’m a Spanish film maker and writer. I write with creative, narrative or poetic intention for about twelve years. I come from the audiovisual world (television and advertising mostly). In recent years I have attended several creative writing workshops. Now, far from audiovisual as a profession, I dedicate myself to writing and coordinate a creative writing workshop in Seville. It is a workshop to experience the fact of creating and feeling literature. We try to go beyond writing or correct narrative, poetic, autobiographical or reflective texts, beyond knowing techniques and writing tricks. Creativity is the goal without end. We give great importance to reading aloud as a way to recognize and work the literary voice of each one, and also, we experiment with the audiovisual format as another way of learning to know how to interpret our texts, to voiceover them, and act on them. Video-poems are another part of the creative process and the recognition of each as an author, it is another way of creative knowledge. The essential is to pose, think and act, and in our case, create from writing to let go and leave our point of view, and be able to share it. And this ability to narrate and tell should be transferable to another means of expression, as another complement, as another revelation of our creative capacity.

Transferring our texts (or those of other authors) to an audiovisual format, relying on the image and music to create these video-poems is a challenge where the fundamental is the literary burden of the text. We do not consider it as a struggle between the greater or lesser relevance of the image, music or text. The written is the important, it’s essential, then, the interpretation and performance of these texts with a suggestive audiovisual dress. The direction and production of these video-poems must be guided by the simplicity and speed of creation in the event that they are self-produced or by taking advantage of what the internet offers with the royalty-free images and music that can be used and shared, with that democratization of the media. In turn, the video-poems we make are posted on the internet for anyone’s free enjoyment, helping to fill in that great library of Babel.

Moving the texts to an audiovisual format is a part of the creative process, a moment of enjoyment and self-knowledge. The important thing is to act, to be and to write it.

Visit Juan Bullón’s YouTube channel to see more of his and his students’ work.