~ videopoetry sites ~

“Video & Film Poetry” group on Vimeo

The video sharing site Vimeo tends to get a higher proportion of well-made videos than YouTube, but even still, many poetry-related videos uploaded to the site are not terribly impressive as examples of the filmmaker’s art. I know, because one of the primary ways I find new material for Moving Poems is by searching new Vimeo uploads for anything with the word “poem” in the title, tags or description. I see a lot of dreck.

So I’m very impressed with the new Vimeo group devoted to Video & Film Poetry, which was founded by Brenda Clews just a couple months ago. She had tried to convince me to start such a group, but I declined on the grounds that I was already doing enough here, so she went ahead and founded the group herself — and I think the results so far speak for themselves: a lot of interesting and innovative videopoets have joined the group now, and are adding their new uploads as well as other people’s videos that they might happen to know about. There’s some commenting, but so far it’s been mainly a place to share and discover new work.

This isn’t the first Vimeo group to welcome poetry videos, but I believe it’s the first to take curating seriously. The problem with completely open poetry-sharing sites is that the bad poetry (or videopoetry, in this case) tends to drive out the good. The crucial difference with the Video & Film Poetry group is that, though anyone can comment or participate in the (so-far-unused) forums, only members can add videos or invite new members. If you’re on Vimeo and you’d like an invitation, let me know.

Random strangers reading poems on camera

Check out How Pedestrian, the latest addition to the Moving Poems linkroll. As described in a recent article in the Toronto National Post, the site’s curator and videographer, Toronto poet Katherine Leyton, stops people at random and asks them to recite a poem on camera. Most of the time, they agree.

“Poetry has such a bad rap,” Leyton says. “People will tell me about how they had to analyze Robert Frost poems in high school, and how boring it was, but poetry doesn’t have to be like that.” She’s hoping her blog will change the public’s perceptions about poetry and make it more accessible to those who might otherwise shy away from it.

Most of the participants read the poem Leyton provides only moments before they recite it, and while in some videos this is obvious, in others, the readers recite with such feeling and conviction that it’s hard not to think it’s rehearsed. “Good poetry should always work first on a gut level — it should communicate with you intuitively,” Leyton explains. “I think that for most poets, that’s the aim.”

As a proof-of-concept, the site is brilliant, and with Leyton’s short but substantive blurbs about each featured poet, I should think How Pedestrian could really come in handy in the classroom.