~ The Rumpus ~

To Find Stars In Another Language by Elizabeth Bradfield

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending a poetry reading by Elizabeth Bradfield at Penn State, which concluded with this videopoem projected onto the wall behind her, following a section of haibun riffing off photos that used Powerpoint. It was great to see multimedia casually included as part of a very well-attended reading in an academic setting — though Bradfield herself works not in academia but as a naturalist-interpreter on Cape Cod, which showed, I think, in the ease and common touch with which she introduced her poems. The students seemed very energized by the reading, even before the multimedia portion, and following a 20-minute question-and-answer period, they formed a lengthy queue to buy her books and get her autograph. It was gratifying to see a good poet get the sort of reception she deserved, for once. I bought a copy of her 2010 book Approaching Ice, a personal take on the history of polar exploration, and am enjoying it immensely.

Though this video and its two companions (one of which, Deliquescence, I shared last December) represent Bradfield’s first foray into videopoetry, she and her collaborator Demet Taspinar seem to have all the right instincts. In part, I think, this is because they proceeded ekphrastically: footage first, then the words.

A collaboration between video artist Demet Taspinar, who made this film, and me (Elizabeth Bradfield) who wrote a poem to it. Demet made the movie when working in Antarctica, which is where we met aboard an expedition ship. She was the ship’s doctor; I was a naturalist. We’ve made three of these collaborations so far. First published on “The Rumpus” as video and also as a printed poem in April, 2013.

And here’s that Rumpus post.

Poetry comics: cousin to videopoetry?

In the same way that people often express astonishment that they’d never heard of videopoetry or filmpoetry before, considering how much great work is out there, I’m feeling simultaneously abashed and grateful to discover that there is such a thing as poetry comics, and that it appears to be flourishing. A friend on Facebook, the poet and publisher Kathleen Rooney, just linked to an anthology with eight contributors published last year by New Modern Press called Comics as Poetry:

A handful of artists have wandered away from mainstream comics only to find themselves at the periphery of poetry. Here, they bend and shove the vocabulary of comics to make the medium yield new effects. The results are original and surprising, and invite the reader to participate in experiments performed upon narrative, art, and language.

Check the press page for examples of their art.

Googling quickly turned up a blog called Poetry Comics by artist-poet Bianca Stone, who in a recent post links to a roundtable discussion at The Rumpus between her and three other artists, from the New York Comics Symnposium.

Comics and poetry may not often be mentioned in the same breath, but the two actually have a long history together. That history dates back at least to the mid 1960s, when the New York School experimented with combining the forms. (Much earlier than that, e. e. cummings recognized a kindred spirit in George Herriman.) Today, a small-but-growing group of creators work primarily in a hybrid of comics and poetry. Among these are Paul Tunis (PT), Bianca Stone (BS), Gary Sullivan (GS), and Alexander Rothman (AR). The four NYC-based artists sat down to discuss poetry comics in August 2013.

The strongest video parallel would be animated poetry, I suppose, but based on the samples I’ve seen, some seem equally close to haiga. Bianca Stone says in the roundtable:

I think what’s exciting is that we kind of don’t know what “poetry comics” means, and it’s just kind of this words-and-image exploration. But it’s not really fixed in either world.

I do love hybrid genres, and am always impressed by poets who turn out also to be gifted artists, or vice versa — as with author-made videopoems. When done right, art-poetry combinations can bring across to the reader/viewer something of that gestalt which I think lies at the heart of authentic perception.

Zachary Schomburg’s Poem-Film “Your Limbs Will Be Torn Off In a Farm Accident” featured as a “last poem I loved” at The Rumpus

The popular arts and culture magazine The Rumpus has a regular feature called “The Last Poem I Loved,” and the April 26 installment, by Dena Rash Guzman, focuses explicitly on the film version of a poem. This is of note not simply because it will be widely read, but because such detailed and highly personal reader/viewer responses to videopoems are far from common.

I didn’t really read the poem. The poem is a movie, too. I heard and saw and loved the poem.

It was like me. I was the poem already; my own limbs had been torn off when I moved to a farm in the Oregon woods, where I became a sort of tree. That reads as little bit new age, but I can explain the metaphor no better than Schomburg does in his poem-film. It is his own. It could be a redneck metaphor, or a hippie one, an academic one, or a Freudian one. Sometimes a metaphor is just a cigar.

I mean only to say, I met this poem at a time when it might have saved my life and I have returned to it many times since for CPR.

Read the rest (and watch the video)