~ Russian ~

Videopoetry classification: a Russian system

A Russian videopoetry classification scheme shows some interesting parallels with British and North American thinking about the hybrid genre, which — I’m guessing from the name of the site — is called Videopojezija (Видеопоэзия) in Russian. Since the site includes foreign as well as Russian videos, I assume their classification is meant to be universal, and as the closing note indicates, they welcome criticism and suggestions.

Here’s a Google translation of the page, amended to reflect the word choices in a summary at the Text in Art blog (which is how I learned about it). I’ve done my best to render Google’s amazingly good machine translation into something resembling idiomatic English, but this has invariably involved some guess-work since I don’t know any Russian. I invite Russian speakers to suggest corrections and improvements, and I’ll amend the post accordingly.


Depending on the purpose, videopoetry can be categorized in various ways: by content, by technical devices employed, on a territorial or chronological basis … Plus one can also add all the known classifications for each of the included arts and combinations of these. But in the synthesis of two arts there is at least one base, which describes the nature of communication of one art with another. Let’s try to identify this classification, and since it seems most interesting to the authors of this resource, it will form the basis for the structure of the site.

Note that in any art it is very difficult to strictly classify anything — there are too many variations, and our case is no exception, so any one videopoetic film or video can be assigned to multiple categories simultaneously.

So, in our view, taking the nature of the poetic text and the visual aspects into account, videopoetry should be divided into:

  • documentary (dokumentalnaja)

    The reader is at the center in this videopoetry type. It can move in a certain space, its image can be combined with other visual images or alternate them, but most importantly: reading is the main object of the image. It is very difficult to distinguish this case from a simple video-recording of poetry recitation. Usually videopoetic clips contain additional meanings introduced into the text by the video. Whereas simple video carries no additional imagery.
    We think that such works can be called documentary because they contain a particular record, a real-life act of reading the poem.

  • textual (tekstograficheskaja)

    In the center of the clip: the image of the written text. It can be superimposed on a shaped video sequence, can pass in a running line or move, as titles. May be reproduced in sign language or even as a physical object is made of a material and filmed. In this video a written text is always present in the frame. A feature of this species is that it can be free of audio or only contain music, without sounding text.

  • illustrative (illjustrativnaja)

    In these videos, visuals are almost a verbatim repetition of all the images of the poem. These clips are called “akin” (?) because they are made on a “what I see, I sing” basis. Technically, this method is embodied in different ways: through drawings or photos illustrating every word in a poem, or by picture-stories very similar to the plot of the work.

  • conceptual (konceptualnaja)

    Here the storyline visuals are associated with a poem on the level of ideas, while making it more meaningful. In the video and in the text of such a project, the different images used relate on an associative level. The video may contain a completely different reality than the ones described in the verse, but they look like an organic whole, complement each other, creating a new one.

  • story/plot (sjuzhetnaja)

    In this film, the poem itself is pushed to the background, giving way to a video scene. The sound of the text in this video may take even less than 50% of the duration. Usually, this is more like a video/short film containing poetic inserts.

  • musical (muzykalnaja)

    The focus of the film isn’t the poem, but the music to which it is put. Visuals are rhythmically linked to a greater extent with the music, part of what’s lost without words (?). These are close to music videos.

  • visual (vizualnaja)

    This is a special genre of videopoetic movies from which a poetic text is absent. Poetic quality in such videos is achieved by other means. Rhythm is present directly in the video.

This classification is not definitive. Constructive criticism and additions are welcome.
When using this classification, please refer to us.

Alex Cigale becomes Moving Poems’ Russian-language editor

Alex CigaleThis week, Ukranian-American poet and translator Alex Cigale became the first foreign-language editor at Moving Poems, contributing translations and analysis of videopoems for works by Alexander Vvedensky and Anna Akhmatova — see Alex’s author archive to view both posts.

I know Alex from his work as an author and now issue editor at qarrtsiluni, and I’ve come to appreciate his enthusiasm for poetry of all kinds and passion for bringing it to ordinary readers. In addition to qarrtsiluni, he’s placed poems in The Cafe, Colorado, Global City, Green Mountains, and North American reviews, Gargoyle, Hanging Loose, Redactions, Tar River Poetry, 32 Poems, and Zoland Poetry, online in Contrary, Drunken Boat, H_ngm_n and McSweeney’s, among others. His translations from the Russian can be found in Crossing Centuries: the New Generation in Russian Poetry, in The Manhattan, St. Ann’s, and Yellow Medicine reviews, online in OffCourse, Danse Macabre and Fiera Lingue, and forthcoming in Crab Creek Review and Modern Poetry in Translation. He was born in Chernovsty, Ukraine and lives in New York City.

I’m excited by this sudden broadening of the site’s horizons, and I’d welcome volunteers for other languages, as well (Dutch? German? Spanish?) presuming that we could agree on the quality of the videopoems in need of explication. Contributions could be as regular or as occasional as you like — I have an aversion to schedules. Contact me via email, bontasaurus [at] yahoo [dot] com, if you’re interested.