~ The Guardian ~

The British election through poetry (and music) videos

From time to time, it’s worth looking at major contemporary events through the window of poetry videos, to get a sense of the extent to which videopoetry and poetry film are taking part in the general zeitgeist. The just-concluded general election in the UK is a case in point. Commentators from all sides of the political spectrum are saying that the unexpected, unprecedented surge in support for Labour and Jeremy Corbyn may mark the beginning of the end of print media’s traditionally out-sized influence on British politics: all the tabloids came out strongly against Labour, but the youth don’t read the tabloids, and it was their turn-out on election day which appears to have tipped the balance. Where do they get their news? From YouTube and social media, apparently. Pro-Labour and anti-Conservative memes were rife on Facebook, including this Theresa May mashup from the inimitable Cassetteboy:

One of the last Labour ads released before the election features Corbyn reciting Shelley’s memorable lines from “The Masque of Anarchy” (Stanza XXXVIII):

At The Guardian today, Manchester-based spoken word poet Tony Walsh, A.K.A. Longfella, “performs his poem Net Worked about the young people who voted in the 2017 General Election on Friday”:

If the embed doesn’t work, watch it on their website.

The Guardian also posted a poem by the poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, in response to Theresa May’s disastrous campaign, though sadly it’s only available as text. For those who don’t understand the reference in the last line, once again here’s a videopoetic YouTube remix to get you up to speed:

That video by “Musician, Electronic Music Producer & DJ from Liverpool” Keeley Ray has been viewed 37,739 times — respectable, but nothing like the nearly 3 million views logged by Captain SKA‘s general-election remix of their song “Liar Liar,” which was downloaded 40,000 times and made it to No. 4 in the UK charts in the weeks leading up to the election despite a complete embargo by radio stations. This may not be a poetry video per se, but it’s a good reminder of the power of sung, chanted and spoken words to goad people into action — especially when yoked to visual images:

Perhaps if the song had been allowed on mainstream UK radio, the political punditocracy might not have been caught so completely off-guard by the election results.

Max Wallis to make videopoems as poet in residence at Grindr

Grindr has just hired its first poet in residence: British model and writer Max Wallis. Wallis broke the news himself via an article in The Guardian.

Poetry and sex have a long and venerable history, one often being used in the service of setting up the other. Catullus kicked things off, and Lord Byron, Sharon Olds and Carol Ann Duffy, among others, have run with the ball since. The work of those poets is perhaps best thought of as the context for what I am doing now. Starting next week, I will be the gay social networking app Grindr’s first poet in residence, making a video poem each month to be flashed in the app and also on its new platform, Into. They will be directed by Ashley Joiner, whose documentary Pride? premieres at the BFI’s LGBT film festival in March.

The poems play on the essential themes of the app – relationships, our increasingly unsympathetic world and quite a lot of sex (topics that have been the subject of my last two books – Modern Love and Everything Everything). Each video threads into the next, telling a larger story about what is to be gay now (although I thought it best not to limit myself to what it means to be gay and on Grindr now – as that would mean a lot of requests to “send more pics” and any number of unsolicited anatomical images).

He goes on to describe the first poem in the series, which I hope to be able to blog here when it comes out, presuming it’s sharable on the open web. According to Mashable,

Grindr has yet to confirm a release date, stating “a few things are still in the works for the new platform.” Wallis plans to shoot the second and third films this Sunday.

This isn’t Wallis’ first poet-in-residence gig to involve videopoetry. In 2103 he made at least three videos as part of a residency with Harper’s Bazaar. Here’s one of them: