~ Swoon ~

Call for Entries: Atticus Review’s 2nd Annual Videopoem Contest

banner for the Second Annual Atticus Review Videopoem Contest

This week Atticus Review, one of the best online magazines to regularly feature videopoems, poetry films, and other multimedia literary works, announced that their second annual videopoem contest is open for submissions. Marc Neys AKA Swoon is the judge.

Atticus Review is happy to announce our second annual Videopoem Contest judged by Swoon. You can submit up to 3 videopoems. The cost for entry is $10. 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: $250 & Publication
Second Prize: $50 & Publication
Third Prize: Publication
Deadline: January 12th, 20120
Winner Announced: January 31st, 2020


Marc Neys / Swoon / No One


No One is a composer, Swoon a video-artist, and both personas reside in Marc Neys from Belgium.


As one of the leading and most prolific figures in modern videopoetry he made videopoems for and with writers from all over the globe. He inspired new creators through his workshops and showcases on videopoetry.


He creates works with a focus on the purely poetic quality of the moving image in relation to the spoken or written poem. A sophisticated interplay of constructed soundscapes and images with personal reflections. Through a visual language and references to his everyday life, he creates a framework in which the poems come to a different development.


He released 3 CDs over the last two years and his videos have been selected and featured at festivals all over the world.



Marc follows Moving Poems’ own Marie Craven, who judged the contest last year. (Here are the results.) Marc wrote about his philosophy on judging poetry film contests after his experience on the ZEBRA jury in 2016.

Ice Mountain

I’ve made it a rule not to share videos of my own poems on Moving Poems, but I’m making an exception just this once. When the filmmaker and musician Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon heard I had a new book coming out, he offered to make a video trailer for it if I’d send him some footage, and naturally, I jumped at the chance. But the result is a new videopoem in its own right, and I think it’s worth careful study by poets and publishers who might be interested in producing videos based on poetry books. The usual approach is to select one poem to translate into video, but what Marc wanted to do was make a film based on a montage of lines and stanzas from throughout the book, which he asked me to select, giving guidance only on the maximum number of lines. That’s in the voiceover, which he had me record. Much to my surprise and delight, however, he supplemented that with additional fragments of text that he chose himself and included as text-on-screen. By the end of the film’s three minutes and 41 seconds, I think the viewer ends up with a pretty good idea of what the book is about.

For more on Ice Mountain, please see the publisher’s page (and, you know, consider pre-ordering a copy if you’d like to support the guy behind Moving Poems). It’s worth noting that it will also include visuals: original linocuts by the editor, designer and publisher Beth Adams. And if you’d like a further sample of the contents, I’ve posted a section on my author website.

Antesala altísima / Lofty Anteroom by Estefanía González

Spanish poet Estefanía González appears as one of three actors in this film interpretation of her poem from director Eduardo Yagüe. The English translation in the subtitles is the work of Jean Morris, and the music is from Swoon‘s album Time & River.

The poem appears in González’s 2013 collection Hierba de noche, which, according to this webpage, was born in large part from her activity on blogs, Twitter, and other social networks and internet collaborations. So it seems especially appropriate that her work should now be the subject of further web-based collaboration and transformation. As a blogging poet myself, I love her description of her outlook:

Sigo desperdigando poemas y semillas por las cunetas. Sigo vertiéndome como un jovenzuelo infinito. Sigo prefiriendo lo por venir a lo obrado. La perfección aún me recuerda a la muerte, cualquier elección me recuerda a la muerte. Quizá se trate de inmadurez. Seguramente.
(I keep scattering poems and seeds into the gutters. I keep pouring myself like an endless youth. I still prefer whatever is coming to what’s already been made. Perfection still reminds me of death, any choice reminds me of death. Maybe it’s immature. Surely.)

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

Registrations open for videopoetry workshop with Swoon at Annikki Poetry Festival

From the Anniki Poetry Festival website:

A free video poetry workshop will be organized on Friday, June 5, 2015 from 9.30 AM to 4 PM. 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. Attendance is free of charge, but requires a binding advance registration. The workshop is part of the Annikki OFF program and is organized by the Annikki Poetry Festival and the Sampola library.


The workshop will be held in English. Attendees are asked to bring along a laptop and/or digital camera. Smart phone cameras are also allowed. While laptop computers are not obligatory, they will enable participants to engage in writing the texts for the video poems. This is a hands-on workshop that will teach participants through first-hand experiences. During the workshop day attendees will compose one finished video poem, which will be presented the next day during the international video poetry showcase at the Annikki Poetry Festival.


Please direct all queries and sign-ups to simo.ollila(a)gmail.com. The workshop group is limited to the first 16 participants.


Speaking of workshops, the Split This Rock Poetry Festival in Washington, D.C. would be an ideal venue for a videopoetry workshop, I think. Check out their call for proposals (deadline: June 30).

Late Fragment by Raymond Carver


This is Último Fragmento, Spanish director Eduardo Yagüe‘s film based on a brief poem by Raymond Carver. The actors are Pau Vegas and Faustino Fernández, and the music is by Swoon. It’s the final film in a series of eight that Yagüe calls La Luz Tenaz.

LA LUZ TENAZ es una serie de ocho vídeos en los que investigo con los lenguajes de la poesía, el cine, la actuación, la música, la fotografía… Mezclo los géneros, experimento, busco la manera de contar las historias que los poemas que uso como inspiración me sugieren, creando una obra nueva y personal.
[THE TENACIOUS LIGHT is a series of eight videos in which I investigate the language of poetry, film, acting, music, photography… I mix genres, experiment, look for ways to tell the stories that the poems I use as inspiration suggest to me, creating a new and personal work.]

How to exhibit videopoetry in a bookstore: Swoon’s “Gathering Light” exhibition

video screens scattered through a wall of books

Here’s a kind of poetry-film screening that ought to be more common than it is. I’d been following the Facebook event page with much interest (and not a little regret that I can’t be there), but since I don’t know Dutch, I’m grateful that Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon has put up a short blog post, complete with pictures. I lifted a couple for this post, but do click through and look at the rest, because Marc et al. appear to have implemented this really well:

The cultural centre of my hometown (Mechelen) asked me if I was interested in a solo exhibition with my video’s.


I asked my favourite bookstore if we could set up the exhibition in their store. Putting up different screens in between and on top of books.


After a few days of setting everything up (a big thank you to the technical team of CC Mechelen), we opened ‘Gathering Light’ last week (on my birthday, talk about a present)

No more than 20 screens (of different size and age) spread out over this fine store. A selection of what I’ve been making over the last 5 years.

a woman watches a poetry video in a bookstore

If you’re thinking of making the trip, March 6 might be a good day to visit:

The exhibition runs until march 8 and we’ll end with a finissage dressed up as a showcase on videopoetry with live readings in ‘De Kapel van Contour’ on march 6 (more on that later)

The Art of Poetry Film with Cheryl Gross: “Despot’s Progress”

I’m still looking for collaborations to write about, so poetry filmmakers and videopoets: please send me links to your work! Today’s collaboration involved two different filmmakers’ responses to the same poem. First, propaganda cartoons (thank you Walt Disney) compiled by Othniel Smith make a stirring backdrop for Robert Peake‘s poem “Despot’s Progress.”

I would like to begin with a bit of history. Walt Disney was pro-American and produced a number of propaganda animations depicting Hitler and the Nazi party as buffoons. Unfortunately his patriotism irrationally carried over into the 1960s. This resulted in not allowing people to enter Disneyland if their hair was too long. (This was sparked by protests against the Vietnam War that I believe he felt were anti-American.) If memory serves me correctly, Disney enforced a rule limiting the length a man’s hair could to be in order to enter the theme park. Call it discrimination, but it’s an interesting example of what the times were like, and I believe makes the interplay of audio and visuals here even more poignant. Since Disney was calling the shots, does that mean he was right in inflicting this regulation on his clientele? If he had prejudice against hippies with long hair, I wonder who else he didn’t like?

I happen to love cartoons, especially old Disney and Warner Brothers. This blended with Peake’s poetry makes a brilliantly chilling observation of injustice and intolerance. The poem speaks sarcastically of totalitarianism as something we must adhere to. Images of Donald Duck saluting and trying to conform “comically” support this theory, but as you can see it is not funny. The cartoons just make it palatable and easy to swallow. This piece points us in the direction of taking an otherwise unrealistic depiction (the actual animation) to reveal the nightmare that eventually came to fruition. I think the question that should be asked is, when it comes to being prejudiced, what is the real difference between Disney and Hitler? I suppose we can say it was six million Jews, but what about the haircut? The atrocities committed by Hitler were undeniably more severe than Disney’s point of view and perhaps I should not compare the two, but let’s not dismiss the last section of the cartoon, when the baby duck bursts out of the egg saluting “Sieg Heil!” To me that’s where it actually begins.

No matter what kind of discipline you practice, art is a very powerful medium. This couldn’t be more relevant to what happened at Charlie Hebdo last week. Je Suis Charlie!

Music/concept/editing by Swoon; footage: coxyde 1951 AB (IICADOM 903 at the Internet Archive).

Then we have Mark Neys A.K.A. Swoon‘s interpretation, which is equally chilling. The use of vintage footage puts me on the edge of my seat. The music gets under my skin and I can’t help but feel this is the second before a disaster is about to occur. I find in Swoon’s piece the end is very different. There is no baby Hitler being born, just anticipation. What is next? And is there a next? Perhaps a bomb will drop or a tsunami will wash away the mother and child, leaving us with basically the same outcome. The world has changed and continues to change.

See also Robert Peake’s blog post, “Two Views of ‘Despot’s Progress’ (Film-Poems).”

Swoon: Top Ten Videopoems

Here’s a top 10 showcasing some of the possibilities in videopoetry. Things I like a lot over the last few years…yes there are many more.

Heimweg (poem by Peh)
Film and animation: Franziska Otto (2010)


Racing Time (poem by Chris Woods)
Adele Meyers & Ra Page (2012)


Delikatnie mnie odepchnąłeś całą (poem by Bozena Urszula Malinowska)
Marcin Konrad Malinowski (2012)



You and Me (“May i feel said he” by e.e. cummings)
Kartsen Krause (2009)


Profile (poem by R.W. Perkins)
R.W. Perkins (2012)


The Forty Elephants (poem by Gérard Rudolf)
Alastair Cook (2011)


Silent Scene (poem by J.P. Sipilä)
J.P. Sipilä (2013)


Our Bodies (A Sinner’s Prayer) (poem by Matt Mullins)
Matt Mullins (2013)


Who’d have thought (poem by Melissa Diem)
Melissa Diem (2013)


What Remains (poem by Gareth Sion Jenkins)
Film by Jason Lam (2010)

Swoon’s View: The Real and Pure Worlds of Janet Lees and Terry Rooney

Swoon’s View was a regular feature at Awkword Paper Cut, which has now ceased publication as a magazine (though the archives will remain online indefinitely). So with editor Michael Dickes’ permission, we are moving the column here, where it will appear on a more occasional basis.

Janet Lees

Janet Lees

Short. Sharp. Quirky. Strange. Lovely. That’s how the videopoetry of Janet Lees (with Terry Rooney or on her own) comes across. I saw some of these works at the Filmpoem Festival in Antwerp this year and was immediately taken in by the sober power they effused.

Let’s take a look at four short videopoems she has made over the last few years. Janet gave me extra info on the origin of the works:

In the spring of 2011, I spontaneously began noting down words and phrases from ads on the London Underground. That sentence doesn’t come close to conveying what I was doing. I wasn’t just hungry for those words, I was ravenous. I couldn’t get enough of them: their music, their dark comedy, the strangeness beneath their familiarity – the other things they were saying – the way they compelled me with a startling urgency to rearrange them into skewed, oddly lucid pieces.

I shared them with the photographer & videographer Rooney, who around the same time had started to take his fantastically clear vision for portent in everyday life from still images into short, fixed-viewpoint films. Rooney and I had previously worked together as an advertising creative team and we’d always shared a similar outlook, visually and on many other levels.

I’m a big fan of how they gently force the viewer to keep their eyes on the screen. Not by overpowering jump cuts or clever visuals. They use a single-shot image and text on screen to full effect. Your eyes are drawn to the screen and the poems in an almost hypnotic fashion.

These films are short and sharp as a razor. The creators have cut away any unnecessary layers to leave behind the bare and essential power. The works are like a breath of fresh air in these times of cultural abundance and profusion of advertising.

Pure, yet quirky. Fun, yet disquieting.

Take your time to digest these (over and over) and enjoy the extra info on the who and how that Janet gave me.

high voltage acts of kindness

the big cool true natural picture

For ‘high voltage’ and ‘the big cool true natural picture’ we simply matched up my found-text poems with Rooney’s films. We both had a little stock of each, so it was a case of seeing which words worked best with which films. As time went on, my words would inspire Rooney’s films and vice-versa.

In ‘high voltage’, the overall feel we wanted was a jaunty, slippery precariousness, building into a sense of impending disaster. The gas flame worked perfectly – something so ordinary and yet potentially deadly – and just slightly ‘off’ (why is there no pot sitting on the flame?). ‘The big cool true natural picture’ is a much lighter poem – basically reflecting back some of the OTT promises we’re fed. The crazily short film of the doll baby on the turntable heightened the comedy, while not entirely losing an edge of darkness.

The hours of darkness

‘The hours of darkness’ features footage of flamingos that I took in a wildlife park in the middle of winter. I found the sight of the flamingos in this big gloomy shed electrifying – there was something both prehistoric and post-apocalyptic about it. In my mind, I knew there was only one poem for this film – ‘The hours of darkness’, which I’d written about a year before, inspired by the anodyne yet always to my ear potentially sinister messages contained within in-flight announcements and other forms of mass communication. Here, the repeated phrase ‘May we remind you’ assumes an increasingly dark, Orwellian tone.

everything is poetry

The tone in ‘everything is poetry’ is markedly different. This is an original as opposed to found-text poem, inspired by the beauty that exists in the present moment, where we so rarely live. Here the fixed viewpoint has a more Zen-like quality, with words and footage working together – both doing different things but effectively celebrating the same thing. The film was taken at Portmeirion Village in Wales, where I was mesmerised by the effect of a sunlit fountain in a pool. I scoured the amazingly generous resource that is mobygratis to find the right piece of music, and then worked with the brilliant videographer Glenn Whorrall on editing. Glenn also helped me to edit ‘The hours of darkness’ – his sense of timing is pitch-perfect.

About the artists

Janet Lees is a poet and artist with an interest in multidisciplinary digital work. Working in collaboration with Rooney and independently, she has had work selected for international prizes and festivals including Filmpoem, the Aesthetica Art Prize and the British and Irish Poetry Film festivals. Rooney is a photographer and videographer who has won acclaim for his raw, thought-provoking images and short, fixed viewpoint films.

Marc Neys in front of the camera: The Swoon interviews

I visited Marc Neys this past July mostly for a social visit. We’d really hit it off the year before at the Filmpoem Festival in Dunbar, Scotland. Also, I’m a big fan of strange beers and Medieval history, and Belgium has plenty of both. (See my photo essay at Via Negativa, “Embodied Belgium.”)

But I certainly didn’t want to let the week go by without filming the filmmaker and getting Marc to talk about how he makes his videopoems. After all, he’s one of the most productive poetry filmmakers in the world right now; his work as Swoon is inescapable at international poetry film festivals, not to mention at Moving Poems.

Fortunately, Marc was game. I originally thought I would make a single, twenty-minute video — I’d shoot a couple hours’ worth of footage, then edit and condense the hell out of it. The problem is that Marc really had a lot of interesting things to say, and what I’ve ended up with instead is a 42-minute documentary split into four, semi-independent sections. These can be watched in any order, I think. I’ve put them all into an album on Vimeo for easy linking and sharing.

I’ve also added closed captioning to each of the four videos, as I do with all Moving Poems productions these days, to make them as accessible as possible — but also to facilitate translating. If anyone would like to translate the videos into other languages, please get in touch. Vimeo will host and serve as many subtitle files as we want to upload.

Swoon on Sound

Marc explains how he creates the soundscapes he uses in his videopoems and other projects, despite not being a musician. He then takes us up into the bell tower of the cathedral in Mechelen, Belgium, famed for its massive carillon.

Swoon at Home

Where the handle Swoon comes from, and why Marc’s home and city double as a film set for many of his videopoems.

Swoon’s Secrets to Filming No-Budget Videopoems

If you only have time to watch one of these, watch this one. Marc lays out his basic DIY approach to making art, talking about the usefulness of water footage and other home-made filter effects, filming to music, cheap editing software, and more.

Swoon on finding a new angle in videopoetry composition

Marc talks about a new direction he’s recently taken: composing videopoems with the poem in text on the screen rather than in the soundtrack. Along the way, he talks about the influence of theater and classic film, and why he never follows scripts and works mostly by instinct.