~ The Body Electric ~

Call for Entries: Juteback Poetry Film Festival 2017

Juteback Poetry Film Festival poster

The late, lamented Body Electric Poetry Film Festival is back with a new name! The Juteback Poetry Film Festival will take place on May 20th at the Lyric Cinema Cafe in Fort Collins, Colorado. Festival director R.W. Perkins will collaborate with Matt Mullins to program the festival. They note:

At the Juteback Poetry Film Festival we are looking for innovative and technically sound filmmaking, coupled with a strong grasp of poetics. It is our hope to showcase a wide range of talented film-poets from around the world to best represent the budding art form of videopoetry.

Submit online through the website. I’ll paste in the instructions:


  • All films must be submitted online. Please use the form below to complete your submission. To submit please load your film to Youtube, Vimeo or media sharing site of your choice, then provide the link in your submission. If you choose to use a privacy setting on either Youtube or Vimeo please be sure to provide us with a proper access code to view your film.
  •  All films must be completed before the deadline of April. 16th, 2017. As long as your film has been completed before the April 16th deadline please feel free to submit.
  •  All non-English films must have English sub-titles.
  •  All films selected for the festival grant Juteback Productions, LLC the rights to use all video images and press materials from the film for promotional purposes.
  •  Juteback Productions, LLC is permitted to retain copies of each film selected as part of our festival library and for media educational use.
  •  You may submit more than one film, please repeat process for each entry.
  • Films must be no more than 15 minutes in duration.

Submit here. And follow the festival on Facebook and Twitter.

Sharing poetry film festivals and exhibitions on the web: “Poems, Places & Soundscapes” points the way

All the work exhibited at the Poems, Places & Soundscapes audiopoetry and videopoetry exhibition is now on their website, for the benefit of anyone who couldn’t make it to Leicester in April. It would be great if more poetry-film screening events followed their lead. They’re even promising to post feedback and appreciation from the comments book and audio recording from an informal panel discussion held in conjunction with the exhibition.

As an exhibition rather than a festival, though, this may be something of a special case. Off-hand I can only think of three poetry film festivals whose websites archive a significant percentage of the films they’ve screened: Liberated Words (Bristol, UK), Co-Kisser (Minneapolis, US) and The Body Electric (Fort Collins, US). A more common approach is to share a list of the winning films, sometimes accompanied by screenshots. A few festivals have let their websites lapse altogether… and of course some never had a website to begin with, which is puzzling, to say the least.

It’s interesting to think about the different mind-sets that people bring to the poetry film genre(s). My own background as an online magazine editor and a poet for the page leads me to prioritize viewing videopoems/filmpoems on the web, because in part it’s so strongly parallel to the reader’s experience: it’s generally solitary, and one can go back and re-watch (re-read) as often as one likes. By contrast, people with a background in film tend to think in terms of festivals, theater runs and TV broadcasts: one-time or serial events, in connection with which the creators’ rights must be scrupulously protected. It’s to be expected, therefore, that to festival organizers, sharing screened works online must seem like a decidedly secondary affair, and potentially a bit of a hassle. But I would suggest that:

  • you can reach a larger and more diverse audience online, and at the same time generate interest in attending future events by encouraging social-media sharing of the best films;
  • many filmmakers these days are already uploading their works to video-hosting platforms as a matter of course, and in some cases only delay in posting them because film festival organizers have asked them to;
  • sharing videos online is as easy as signing up for a free WordPress.com site, posting a Vimeo or YouTube link on a line by itself (thanks to the magic of oEmbed), and enabling Twitter and Facebook sharing icons at the bottom of the post.

There is a third, major stream of influence on videopoetry, however: video art, which strikes me as uniquely well-adapted to the web since the emphasis has always been on multiple plays for a maximum number of visitors. The difference I think lies in the quality of attention we bring to exhibitions in a physical as opposed to an online gallery. But in any case, the appeal of this approach is reflected in its near ubiquity now. Video screens have spread out of the art galleries and into all kinds of other museums and exhibition spaces, even leading to hybrid festival/exhibitions where multiple screens display suites of films in continuous loops. There are of course trade-offs involved in every decision on how to present filmic work, but given that videopoetry/filmpoetry is itself a hybrid genre, doesn’t it make sense to think in terms of multiple approaches to presentation, with no single outlet—web, festival, TV broadcast, art gallery—becoming the standard?


Returning to the Poems, Places & Soundscapes exhibition, I was interested to hear that it may have succeeded in doing something that a lot of poets claim as motivation for making videos of their work: reaching a broader audience than the usual poetry scenesters and academics. In an email, co-organizer Mark Goodwin wrote:

Overall the exhibition was received very well. There is a very positive and attentive review here: http://siobhanlogan.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/word-cubes-in-wild-place.html

The final exhibition gate-count was 1026. The Phoenix said that such a count was average to good for an exhibition in the Cube Gallery in April – they had estimated that the count would be around 700. So, considering this was essentially a poetry exhibition, I feel very pleased, and would suggest that for the presentation of poetry this is a long way above the average. […]

I saw quite a few folks who otherwise wouldn’t usually take time to engage with poetry, simply become poetically sucked into elsewhere via headphones! It really doesn’t get much better than that!

2014 Visible Verse Festival open for submissions

The leading videopoetry festival in North America, Visible Verse, takes place in Vancouver every fall. Heather Haley, the organizer, messaged me on Facebook to let me know that they are already open for submissions again. Here’s the call from their new website:

Call for Entries and Official Guidelines:

  • VVF seeks videopoems and poetry films with a 12 minute maximum duration.
  • Works will be judged by their innovation, cohesion and literary merit. The ideal videopoem is a wedding of word and image, the voice seen as well as heard.
  • Please do not send documentaries as they are outside the featured genre.
  • Either official language of Canada is acceptable, though if the video is in French, an English-dubbed or-subtitled version is required. Videopoems may originate in any part of the world.
  • Please submit by sending the url/link to your videopoem for previewing to VVF Artistic Director Heather Haley at: hshaley@ emspace.com along with a brief bio and contact information. If selected, you will receive notification and further instructions.
  • There is no official application form nor entry fee.

2014 Visible Verse Festival will take place in October
Submission deadline: July 1, 2014

Two other international poetry film festivals are also currently open for submissions: the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival in Berlin (deadline: 25 April) and The Body Electric Poetry Film Festival in Fort Collins, Colorado (deadline: 16 February).

If you organize, or simply know about, other poetry film festivals and contests, please contact me when they open for submissions so I can help spread the word.

The 2014 Body Electric Poetry Film Festival is open for submissions

The Body Electric has just announced through its Facebook page that the 2014 festival, on April 26 in Fort Collins, Colorado, is now open for submissions. The rules and submission process are exceptionally simple, and last year’s festival was evidently a resounding success, so there’s really no reason not to submit. The deadline is February 16.

Exposure by Gaia Holmes

Rob Lycett made this beautiful film for a poem by the young British poet Gaia Holmes, whose work has attracted a number of filmmakers and animators in recent years. This is one of six films featured in the latest Third Form column on videopoetry at Connotation Press, a review of The Body Electric film festival. Erica Goss writes:

With an eerie precision, the mash-up of flickering images captures the awkwardness of strangers fingering other strangers’ used things. This video poem shows how public access film footage, reimagined and reassembled, can create a compelling story.

Review of The Body Electric Poetry Film Festival in The Third Form

For her June “Third Form” column at Connotation Press, Erica Goss reports on the first Body Electric Poetry Film Festival. I’m continually frustrated by the paucity of reviews of poetry film festivals, so I was especially glad to get Erica’s impressions of this one (and of the city of Fort Collins, Colorado, which I’ve never visited). One thing I didn’t realize was that the festival organizer, R.W. Perkins, played a crucial role in keeping open the venue in which it was held:

A town that values culture should have an independent theater, but the Lyric Cinema was in danger of closing is doors last year. They needed a digital projector, which costs approximately $150,000, a steep price for a small business. Enter Kickstarter, with a high-energy video by R.W. Perkins. The Lyric raised the money for its projector, remaining a favorite place for movies and off-beat events (like The Body Electric).

I was also cheered to hear how well attended the festival was. Perkins obviously really knows how design and promote a popular event, even if it includes the dreaded word “poetry” in its description.

The thirty-four video poems that appeared in The Body Electric ranged from sensitive, emotional stories such as “Writer’s Block,” “The Barking Horse,” and “Husniyah” to edgy, animated videos (“Anna Blume”) to the tragically comic (“Portugal.”) Some featured exquisite, hand-made drawings (“Afterlight,” “Becoming Judas.”) I cannot emphasize enough how much these beautifully crafted videos benefit from seeing them on the big screen; for example, details of Cheryl Gross’s drawings for “Becoming Judas,” done in archival ball-point pen, are simply not visible on a tiny computer screen, and the complex layering of text, still images, photographs and rapid film clips of “The Mantis Shrimp” gain strength and power when viewed in the theater.

Read the rest of Erica’s review, which also includes examples of six of her favorite films from the festival.

Poetry film festival trailer: The Body Electric

I love the idea of a trailer for a poetry film festival: it makes poetry seem so exciting! (Which, to a poetry nerd like me, it actually is.) More than that, I love this particular trailer for The Body Electric from R.W. Perkins:

Watch on YouTube

It helps that the dude in the Muybridge animation looks very much like Walt Whitman (“I sing the body electric”).

In an exchange about the trailer at the Visible Verse Festival group page on Facebook, Perkins writes:

The trailer has been working well for TBE, I’ve met many people interested in the idea of a poetry film festival but don’t really know what that means. The trailer has really helped move that conversation along.

Poetry film festivals: upcoming deadlines and more

First, a reminder that at least FIVE festivals devoted to poetry films are currently open for submission: Trevigliopoesia Festival (deadline: March 1), The Body Electric Poetry Film Festival (deadline: March 21), Filmpoem Festival (deadline: May 1), DOCtorCLIP Roma Poetry Film Festival (deadline: May 15) and Visible Verse Festival (deadline: August 1).

In addition, for those who missed the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival in Berlin last fall, there will be a reprise showing of some of the best films at the Kosmopolis International Literature Fest, March 14-16 in Barcelona. The blog post announcing this includes a good thumbnail history of ZEBRA and of poetry-film generally. Here’s a snippet:

In the early 20th century poets were as much inspired by the cinema as filmmakers by poetry. The first film adaptation of the poem ‘Twas the Night before Christmas’ (1822) by Clement Clark Moore was made in 1905 in the studios of Thomas Alva Edison. Another very early testimony to the influence of poetry on the great directors is the film The Unchanging Sea (1910) by D. W. Griffith after the poem of the same title by Charles Kingsley. Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand, with their futuristic adaptation of Walt Whitman’s city melancholia in their film Manhatta (1921), set standards which still apply today. L’invitation au voyage (F 1927) by Germaine Dulac is a timeless interpretation of Charles Baudelaire’s ‘Les Fleurs du Mal’ or Combat de Boxe (B 1927) by Charles Dekeukeleire after a poem by Paul Werrie. In L’Etoile de Mer (F 1928) by Man Ray lines from Robert Desnos’ 1928 poem »La place de l’etoile« are faded in on boards. And of course Un chien andalou (1929) by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí with its poetic system. These are only some examples of the early poetry adaptations.

The constantly rising number of entries demonstrates the growing worldwide popularity of the genre and the necessity of this festival. Of all the programmes organised by the Literaturwerkstatt Berlin, the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival is the most-booked, receiving invitations from throughout the world. It is regularly invited to take part in festivals from Buenos Aires to Taipei. In 2010–2012 alone it has been a guest in many countries including Algeria, Dubai, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Lithuania, Malta, India, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Colombia, Ireland, Norway and Ukraine.

It’s definitely an exciting time for directors and fans of videopoetry/filmpoetry. Needless to say, there are a myriad other film festivals held annually around the world, and many if not most may be open to submissions of at least some types of poetry films.

Date set for The Body Electric Poetry Film Festival

As just announced on their Facebook page,

The date is finally set. On Saturday May 4th 2013 at the Lyric Cinema Cafe in Fort Collins CO. The Body Electric Poetry Film Festival will come alive! So now you can tell everyone you know, to tell everyone they know about the what, where and when. Also, don’t forget we are still open for submissions.

Call for submissions: The Body Electric Poetry Film Festival

Professional filmmaker and poet R.W. Perkins (whose award-winning videopoems may be viewed on Moving Poems) has announced the formation of a new poetry film festival in his hometown of Fort Collins, Colorado.

The Body Electric is set to be Colorado’s first ever poetry film festival. To be held at The Lyric Cinema Cafe in Fort Collins, the festival will be directed and curated by poet/filmmaker R.W. Perkins.

At The Body Electric we are looking for innovative and technically sound filmmaking coupled with a strong grasp of poetics. It is our hope to showcase a wide range of talented film-poets from around the world to best represent the budding art form of videopoetry.

The festival opening day has yet to be determined, likely in late April or early May, but submissions are now open to all. Please check back with us soon for an updated schedule.

Visit the website for submission guidelines. There’s also a Facebook page and Twitter feed. According to the latter, submissions are already flowing in.