~ Visible Verse ~

the light – the shade by Robert Lax

Susanne Wiegner‘s most recent 3D animation of a poem by Robert Lax is among the films scheduled for screening this Saturday, October 17, at Visible Verse in Vancouver, North America’s longest-running videopoetry festival.

To me, this is an excellent example of how a good videopoem can open up a difficult or hermetic text. If I’d encountered Lax’s poem on the page, I doubt I would’ve given it more than ten seconds of my attention before becoming irritated or exasperated, but Wiegner’s animation is so compelling and so full of surprises, its seven minutes went by all too quickly. Here’s what she wrote in the Vimeo description:

“the light – the shade” is a poem by Robert Lax that plays with the contrasts and opposites light and shade, with bright and dark, black and white, red and blue. The film begins with a nighttime scenery in a city, moves into a room and starts watching the movement of the shadows on the wall. Finally the camera enters the screen of a laptop and goes deeper and deeper into the poem. The film becomes a journey through the realm of imagination, through spaces and pictures, through letters and words. In that way the minimal language of the poem is unfolded into unexpected pictures.

Upcoming videopoetry and poetry film festivals

Book your tickets! The annual autumn parade of poetry film festivals is about to begin. Some calls are still open: for the Vienna, Ó Bhéal and CYCLOP festivals (see below), and for the as-yet-unscheduled 5th Sadho Poetry Film Fest (deadline: October 30) and International Film Poetry Festival in Athens (deadline: November 20). And don’t forget that submissions to Zata Banks’ PoetryFilm screenings series never close.

September 15-19, Vilnius, Lithuania

TARP Audiovisual Poetry Festival 10: INTER-states

This year‘s special touch – audiozine, which will see poets Dainius Gintalas, Laima Kreivytė, Marius Burokas, Benediktas Januševičius, Agnė Žagrakalytė and others being recorded reading poetry in their favourite settings.

The last day of the festival TARP 10 will be dedicated to TARP academy, together with video poetry researchers Sarah Lucas and Lucy English from Great Britain, andan open discussion with the festival guests. The closing of the festival will be crowned as usual by an open mic readings and the opening of the „INTER-states“ exhibition – because it is just the festival that will end, while poetic states will flutter in the air for long afterwards.

September 30, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Big Bridges Film Festival

Mark your calendar for September 30, 2015 when we will reveal the winners of the Big Bridges Film Contest! The event, hosted by MotionPoems and the Target Studio at the Weisman Art Museum, will include a special screening of selected films from the contest. All are welcome!

More details coming soon at www.BigBridgesWAM.com!

October 4-11, Cork, Ireland

Ó Bhéal @ IndieCork Film Festival
Submissions open until September 15

This is Ó Bhéal’s sixth year of screening poetry-films (or video-poems) and the third year featuring an International competition.

Up to thirty films will be shortlisted and screened during the festival, from 4th-11th October 2015.

October 10-11, Worcester, MA, USA

Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival

Rabbit Heart 2015 will once again be at the delightful Nick’s Bar in Worcester, MA! This year there will be two shows–

Showcase Matinee – Saturday, October 10th 12-3pm
Join us for lunch, and check out some of the fantastic material that we wish we had time to share at the awards ceremony (we got SO many good entries this year!) We will screen the best of the best that didn’t fall into prize categories, as well as curated showcases from renowned UK archivist Zata Banks of PoetryFilm. Watch this space for more information on the individual showcases.

Awards Ceremony and Viewing Party – Sunday, October 11th 8pm (doors at 7:30)
The show you’ve been waiting all year for – the best of the best, the handing out of trophies, popcorn and fancy dresses, and your lovely emcees Tony Brown and Melissa Mitchell! Come meet your judges and cheer for your finalists – and see who takes home the sparkle-hearted bunny for Best Overall Production.

October 17, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Visible Verse 2015 Festival

Presented by The Cinematheque since 2000, Visible Verse is one of the longest-running video poetry festivals in the world. Video poetry is a hybrid creative form bringing together verse and moving images. Visible Verse selects its annual program from hundreds of submissions received from local, national, and international artists.

On the occasion of the 2015 festival, The Cinematheque says a fond farewell and expresses its great gratitude to Heather Haley, founder of Visible Verse and its curator and host from 2000 to 2014. We welcome Vancouver poet Ray Hsu into his new role as Visible Verse’s artistic director.

November 20 and 22, Kyiv, Ukraine

5th CYCLOP International Videopoetry Festival
Submissions open until September 30

The festival programme features video poetry-related lectures, workshops, round tables, discussions, presentations of international contests and festivals, as well as a demonstration of the best examples of Ukrainian and world videopoetry, a competitive program, an awards ceremony and other related projects.

December 5-6, Vienna, Austria

Poetry Filmfestival Vienna (AKA Art Visuals & Poetry Festival)
Submissions from German-speaking countries open until September 15

After an inspiring Poetry Film Festival in 2014 we are happy to go on in 2015. What´s new in 2015? We found a new festival location in middle of city center. Metro Kinokulturhaus. It’s one the most beautiful cinemas in Vienna and the result of a new cooperation with Filmarchiv Austria.

IT’S ALIVE! Visible Verse Festival announces new director, issues call for entries

Visible Verse image - eyeball in mouth

Vancouver’s Visible Verse Festival is the longest-running poetry film and videopoetry festival in North America, and last April we shared the sad news that its founder and long-time director Heather Haley had reluctantly decided that she couldn’t do it anymore. Today on their Facebook group page, however, writer and entrepreneur Ray Hsu posted:

Just wanted to give y’all a heads up that Visible Verse is on for this October. Longtime Artistic Director Heather Haley will continue to offer her wealth of knowledge as an Advisor while I will step in as Artistic Director. I will try my absolute best to fill her shoes. :)

And he shared this Call for Entries:


Call for Entries and Official Guidelines:

We seek videopoems and poetry films with a 7 minute maximum duration.

Works will be judged by their aesthetic interest, innovation and the integration/interplay between film and poetry.

The ideal video poem plays with image and word, whether the words are seen, heard or otherwise approached in the context of the piece.

Please do not send documentaries as they are beyond the scope of this genre.

Entries in any language are accepted, though if the video is not in English, then an English-dubbed or -subtitled version is preferred. Videopoems may come from any part of the world.

Please submit by sending the URL to your videopoem for previewing, along with a brief bio and contact information to Ray Hsu (Artistic Director) at drrayhsu@gmail.com.

If selected, you will receive notification and further instructions. Selected artists will be paid a standard screening fee.

VISIBLE VERSE FESTIVAL 2015 is scheduled to take place in October at the Cinematheque in Vancouver, Canada, in October.

DEADLINE: August 15, 2015

This is such great news. A huge thanks to Ray Hsu for stepping up and to Heather Haley for agreeing to stay on in an advisory capacity. Please join me in wishing them every success in this transition period, and do consider sending your best work.

It’s official: Visible Verse Festival discontinued

Visible Verse logoUPDATE: Visible Verse will continue after all!

Vancouver’s long-running Visible Verse Festival, which justly described itself as “North America’s sustaining venue for the presentation of new and artistically significant videopoetry and film,” is coming to a close. Festival organizer Heather Haley first mentioned the likelihood of discontinuing it in an update to her personal Facebook page last fall, after the successful completion of the 2014 festival. She’s now made it official with a post to the Visible Verse Facebook group:

It is with great sadness that I must inform you, my fellow videopoem and poetry film aficionados, that the Visible Verse Festival is coming to a close. My circumstances have changed drastically in the past few years and I can no longer afford to donate my time, especially as the work load, along with the festival, continues to grow. I now have a *real job,* rather a crappy job but one has to pay the bills, so neither do I have time to seek funding or find a sponsor. I am very grateful to the Cinematheque’s volunteers and staff, especially Artistic Director Jim Sinclair. We had a great run! I will keep this group page up, please feel free to continue posting and sharing.

Originally known as the Vancouver Videopoem Festival, it had its first run in 1999, found a home at The Cinematheque the following year, and ran every year since, with Haley doing most of the work single-handedly. Historically speaking, along with VideoBardo in Buenos Aires (biannual since 1996), Visible Verse bridged the gap between the Poetry Film Festival/Cin(E)-Poetry Festival in San Francisco—the world’s first poetry film festival, which ran from 1975 to 1998—and ZEBRA, PoetryFilm, TARP, Sadho, and all the other poetry-film festivals and organizations that sprang up in the new millennium. Haley also helped set the tone for many of these later festivals with her eclectic and inclusive approach to programming, representing mainstream, avant-garde, and spoken-word communities in roughly equal measure. She was a major inspiration for Moving Poems, as well. Visible Verse will be missed, but here’s hoping that Haley continues to direct her own poetry films and collaborate with other filmmakers as time permits.

Embroidered by Andy Bonjour

Andy Bonjour‘s brief, deceptively simple videopoem about his wife’s embroidery was selected for Visible Verse 2014 and the “Parallel Worlds” programme at ZEBRA. Videopoetry critic Erica Goss included it in a list of ten stand-out films from the 7th ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival. It’s a gem of a video, and demonstrates that sometimes closely aligned footage and text can really work together, producing not a feeling of redundancy but something more like gestalt.

2014 Visible Verse program

Ladies & Gentlemen! Announcing the 2014 VISIBLE VERSE FESTIVAL program:

  • On a Prophet | David Richardson/Kathleen Roberts. Spencer, Indiana 2014.
  • Indefinite Animals | Martha McCollough. Boston, MA 2014.
  • In The Turning | Sarah Tremlett. Bath, England 2014.
  • Genocide Is My Man United | Kevin Barrington. Dublin, Ireland 2014
  • Proxy Bounce | Ian Keteku. Toronto, ON 2014
  • Out of the Forest-Sleight of Tree | J.P. Sipilä. Helsinki, Finland 2014.
  • words/birds | vvitalny. Brooklyn, NY 2012.
  • PROEM to Brooklyn Bridge | Suzie Hanna/Hart Crane. Norwich, UK 2013.
  • Again and Again | Igor Andreevski. Amsterdam, Netherlands 2014.
  • 1962 | Diana Taylor/Robin Kidson. Bristol, UK 2013
  • The Killing | Swoon/Howie Good. Mechelen, Belgium 2013.
  • Je tombe | Svitlana Reinish, Elena Semak. Kiev, Ukraine 2014.
  • Penelopiad | Jade Anouka. London, UK 2012.
  • In Hell | Michael Murnau. London, UK 2012.
  • Ella (Her) | Javier Reta. Madrid, Spain 2013.
  • If I Can Sing a Song about Ligatures | Abigail Child. New York, NY 2009.
  • What The Flute Wants to Sing | Karin Hazé/Moe Clark. Haida Gwaii, BC 2013.
  • Reservation | Kevin Barrington. Dublin, Ireland 2014.
  • The Elephant is Contagious | Simon O’Neill/Eabha Rose. Dublin, Ireland 2014.


  • Back to You | Karen Mary Berr. Paris, France 2013.
  • Keepsake | Elizabeth Johnston. Montreal, QC 2013.
  • Equus Caballus | H. Paul Moon/Joel Nelson. Elko, Nevada 2013.
  • Embroidered | Andy Bonjour. Steubenville, Ohio 2014.
  • Babel Death Star | Jeff Cruz/Kirk Ramdath. Calgary, AB 2014.
  • Kenneth Patchen | J.R. Phillips. Los Angeles, CA 2009.
  • WALLS | Walter Forsyth/Andrath Whynacht. Dartmouth, Nova Scotia 2013.
  • Florid Psychosis | Othniel Smith/Bill Yarro. Cardiff, Wales 2013.
  • My Dolls | Pete Burkeet/Melissa Barrett. Columbus, Ohio 2014.
  • Aylool MacKenzie’s Convenient Skytrain Deppaneur | Tom Wiebe/Lyle Neff. Vancouver, BC 2014.
  • My Country | Jelena Sinkik/Ralph Stevenson. Maroubra, Australia 2014.
  • America | Sophie LeNeveau/Allen Ginsberg. Jupiter, FL 2012.
  • Late | Keith Sargeant. London, UK 2014.
  • Prism | Jamey Hastings/Price Strobridge. Colorado Springs, CO 2013.
  • Tasting the End | Dean Pasch. Munich, Germany 2014.
  • Deathless Man | Lena Samoylenko. Kiev, Ukraine 2014.
  • Some Trees | Kurtis Hough/John Ashberry. Portland, OR 2014.
  • Marianne | Richard O’ Connor. New York, NY 2014.

7 pm, Sat, Oct. 18 at the Cinematheque in Vancouver, Canada

Visible Verse logo

Poetry film festival news: Liberated Words program reveals unprecedented international focus, and more

September and October are the best months for seeing poetry films on the big screen, from the UK to Germany, Argentina, Canada, and Ireland.

The third annual Liberated Words poetry film festival, scheduled for September 13th, 19th and 20th in Bristol, sounds very interesting indeed. The program is described in detail on the front page of their website, which I like — no hunting about. I’m especially impressed by the number of exchanges they’ve initiated with other poetry film festivals from around the world. On the 19th,

Sarah Tremlett, poetry filmmaker and theorist has curated a screening looking at different poetry films forms, including films not only from VideoBardo in Buenos Aires and Visible Verse in Vancouver, but exciting new collaborators Zebra, Oslo and Tarp, Lithuania, Poetry Film Festivals. In conjunction she is hosting a discussion on ‘What exactly are poetry films?’ with: Gabrielė Labanauskaitė, Adele Myers, Martin Sexton, Penny Florence, Marc Neys and Lucy English.

On the following day, one can take a day-long masterclass in poetry filmmaking with Marc Neys, A.K.A. Swoon. And the events the week before, on the 13th, reflect some highly imaginative programming as well. The day’s theme is Memory:

Showcasing Memory competition finalists, commemorating the anniversary of the 1914-18 war, and entries based on Ivor Gurney’s poem The High Hills Have a Bitterness. A very warm welcome to returning best music judges from L.A. –Rich Ferguson (mesmerising spoken word with music poet) and Mark Wilkinson (top music video and feature director), and judges for best editing –last year’s brilliant finalists and this year’s workshop leaders poet Helen Moore and filmmaker Howard Vause. See the premiere of Marc Tiley’s edited version of the extraordinary poem Dart by poet Alice Oswald; workshopped films: the groundbreaking Golden Bird Project made in conjunction with older patients from The Royal United Hospital, Bath, and Art at the Heart, with resident artist Edwina Bridgeman and art from young patients and musician in residence Frankie Simpkins; three stunning films from years 7–10 at St Gregory’s Catholic College based on the arresting poem Mametz Wood by award-winning poet Owen Sheers; and two thought-provoking films from St Brendan’s Sixth Form College, Bristol.

In other news, the aforementioned VideoBardo festival is set for September 8 in Buenos Aires, and Berlin’s ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival will take place on October 16-19, overlapping with Visible Verse — Vancouver, October 18 — and Ó Bhéal/IndieCork on October 12-19. And incidentally, the film competition for Ó Bhéal is still open until the end of September — click the preceding link for details.

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.

Two Elizabeth Bishop filmpoems and the art of Heather Haley

The latest installments from our two favorite monthly columnists don’t disappoint. In his “Swoon’s View” column at Awkword Paper Cut, Marc Neys considers “Two Cinematic Approaches to the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop”: “First Death in Nova Scotia” by John Scott, and “Where are the Dolls” by Cassandra Nicolaou.

The editing is thoughtful and draws the viewer inside the story (I love the jump cuts between the introvert close-ups of the woman and the loud and intimidating girls). Nicolaou did an amazing job in translating the poem to this day and age with respect and love for the original words, accenting the power of Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry. And when it’s over, I want to see it again.

And in her “Third Form” column at Connotation Press, Erica Goss mixes interview with analysis for an in-depth portrait of Heather Haley, organizer of the long-running Visible Verse Festival in Vancouver and a talented filmmaker in her own right.

Heather Haley’s videos take risks. They deal with domestic violence, eating disorders, prostitution, and other serious issues that affect society. “I don’t set out to deliver a message. I don’t like being preached at and I don’t want to preach. My work comes from my experience, but it’s also universal. I don’t theorize,” Heather told me. “There’s not enough time for that.”

The new Liberated Words Poetry Film Festival brochure: way more than just a brochure

The brochure for the second Liberated Words Poetry Film Festival (also available as a PDF download) is worth reading even if (like me) you can’t attend the festival this week in Bristol. At 67 pages, with a paragraph or two about every film to be screened, it’s way more than a brochure; it’s a book! And given the dearth of good written material on multimedia poetry, it should prove to be a very useful document going forward, a kind of snapshot of the current state of videopoetry, filmpoetry and related genres as practiced by a diverse assemblage of filmmakers from around the world, including generous selections from the Visible Verse and Videobardo poetry festivals.

Liberated Words Poetry Film Festival

3rd October National Poetry Day, The Arnolfini, Bristol Poetry Festival, 2013

Liberated Words is the home of the first annual international poetry film festival in the UK, celebrating poetry on screen in many forms, combining original and adapted written poems, with spoken word, images, music and other forms of sound effects. This is a burgeoning genre with a strong tie between music, text and image.

Founded by performance poet and novelist Lucy English (Reader in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University) and Sarah Tremlett – media poet and arts writer (PhD on media poetry at The University of the Arts, London), Liberated Words began as part of Bath Spa University’s MIX Conference, at Corsham Court, 2012 in order to bring poetry film to the general public.

Liberated Words has been invited by Colin Brown of Poetry Can to present a one day event as part of Bristol Poetry Festival on October 3rd.

At the Liberated Words Poetry Film festival there are international screenings from our partners VideoBardo in Buenos Aires and Visible Verse in Vancouver, and talks from TS Eliot prize-winning poet Philip Gross, award-winning, Bristol-based film-maker Joe Magee, animator Professor Suzie Hanna, poet David Johnson, media artist Professor Martin Rieser, and community media artist Jackie Calderwood.

This year we are presenting the finalists from two competitions – ‘Liberated Words open competition’ and ‘4 x 4’, which features new work created by an international selection of poets and filmmakers. We also have a ‘Spotlight’ section including acclaimed practitioners Tom Konyves, Machine Libertine and Jani Sipila.

For further information on Liberated Words please visit our website.

Putting the la into LA and Bristol!

We are inaugurating two awards — the best music /sound award and the best edited award. We are delighted to announce that our music judges will be LA-based spoken- word poet Rich Ferguson and film maker Mark Wilkinson — whose teamwork produced the memorable music-based poetry film Human Condition.

Dates and times:

The Liberated Words Poetry Film Festival will run from 10am-9pm on October 3rd.

The daytime session costs £5.00/ £3.00; the evening session costs £5.00/£3.00 and an all day ticket costs £8.00/£4.00. For further information on how to book a ticket, go to www.poetrycan.co.uk, e-mail boxoffice@arnolfini.org.uk or telephone 0117 917 2300.

Poetry film festivals and screenings in October

October is definitely the biggest month on the calendar for fans of videopoetry/filmpoetry, cinepoetry and animated poetry, with at least six seven major events on both sides of the Atlantic. Here’s a brief rundown:


  • Vancouver, Oct. 12: Visible Verse 2013 Festival
    “The 2013 festival will be selected from more than 200 entries received from artists around the world. As well, we are happy to host Colorado poet and filmmaker R.W. Perkins, who will give an artist’s talk on video poetry and filmmaking.”


  • Cork, October 16-20: Ó Bhéal at IndieCork
    “This is Ó Bhéal’s fourth year of screening poetry-films (or video-poems), and the first year featuring a competition.” Deadline: September 15


  • Rome, October 24-25: 4th DOCtorCLIP Roma Poetry Film Festival
    “An international jury will select a winner of the Doctorclip Award, including a cash prize, from among the ten selected videos of the contest.”



  • London, Oct. 3: National Poetry Day Live at the Southbank Centre
    “Several new Poetry Society commissions will also premiere at National Poetry Day Live: a new film-poem by Alice Oswald and Chana Dubinski explores water’s most transient states; while poets including Liz Berry and Ian McMillan have travelled the nation’s canal network with film-maker Alastair Cook.”
  • Bristol, Oct. 3: Liberated Words at Bristol Poetry Festival
    “We already have a fantastic line up of international screenings – including Maciej Piatek’s ‘Words’ from the poems of Polish immigrants, making us look twice at how we live our lives in Britain.”


  • Minneapolis, Oct. 19: Co-Kisser Annual Poetry-Film Festival at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design
    “The mission for the fest is to see how poets and filmmakers are defining the genre of poetry-films and to challenge and be inspired by any and all of these definitions.”