Visible Verse Festival 2011 • Art or Entertainment; do I really have to choose?

Well, you can’t please them all. I’ve heard the festival criticized for being arty, while others complain its emphasis is entertainment. My challenge of course is to showcase works from the vanguard while drawing people in; people, as in audience. Populist by nature, I don’t view myself as an arbiter. I’m a exhibitor, and while discerning, feel strongly it’s vital to be democratic, as inclusive as possible, which is not to say my criteria are not exacting. Neither are they elitist. I seek innovation, my main criterion artistic merit.

Videopoetry or poetry video. Film or video? And then there is cinema to consider. I find semantics tedious. My reaction to the insistence there be a formal definition of the genre, is, why? Don’t we have enough divides? We live in the age of the mashup. Isn’t that merging? Fusion? Transformation? In any case, I have faith in the poet’s ability to render his or her poem. It would be awfully tedious if everyone made videopoems according to a formula. Via video or film, a poet will explore, push the boundaries of image, language and sound. Whether it’s illustrative or conceptual, I trust the poet to make choices, to create a work according to his individual style and sensibilities. Vision. While I can’t abide cliché or literal translations, surely there’s room for both narrative and non-narrative treatments. One man’s execution is another man’s experiment. One man’s amusement is another man’s pith.

As an artist, I don’t make a huge distinction between film and video, think more in terms of moving images. I do favor the term videopoem because fusion of verse and medium is my goal, and video is accessible and affordable, vital considerations for this poet. Also, video lends itself to hybridization, its history of experimentation a fundamental aspect of the medium. At last year’s festival, our tenth, a panel discussion called Seeing the Voice: the Evolution of Videopoetry from Cocteau to YouTube, became bogged down at one point in definition. “What is a videopoem?” I know one when I see one. Always. And they’re rare. In 1999, as one of the founders of the Vancouver Videopoem Festival, I ventured, it’s is a wedding of word and image. For me, voice is the critical element, beyond text, medium. But that’s just me. My aesthetic choice.

I hope you will come to see, hear and decide for yourself. This year my Pacific Cinémathèque colleagues and I proudly present two days of poetry On Screen and On Stage. Friday, Nov 4, the night’s program is a wild ride of more than 35 short films and videos from Canada, the U.S., Europe, and Asia

Saturday, Nov 5, 4 pm,  we facilitate an Artist Talk with visionary videopoet Tom Konyves, who has just penned Videopoety: A Manifesto and will have signed hard copies available. Immediately following I am happy to host a Visiting Poets reading with Alexander Jorgensen from Pennsylvania and Rich Ferguson from California. Other artists in attendance at the festival this year include Kath MacLean, Britt Hobart, Joe Boyce Burgess, Dennis E. Bolen and Michael Rouse. Find details here, and here is this year’s program.

One Art Elizabeth Bishop/John D. Scott    2011    Ithaca, NY
NDNSpam Song Cheryl L’Hirondelle            2010    Toronto, ON
Doo-Da-Doo-Da Kath MacLean                2011    Edmonton, AB
Kavandi Bearer Jill Battson                1994    Toronto, ON
GRAF Zion/Eklipze                2011    Toronto, ON
Emily Melting Alastair Cook                2010    Edinburgh, Scotland
Ache In My Name Vivek Shraya                2011    Toronto, ON
Lingual Ladies Adeena Karasick            2008    New York, NY
dollhouse Shabnam Piryaei            2010    New York, NY
On Edward Hopper’s Automat H.K. Hummel/Swoon Bildos        2011    Mechelen, Belgium
Commands Diana Heise                2010    North Hero, VT
We Voice Sing Rich Ferguson/Bo Blount/Bo Blount/Luca Dipierro     2010 Los Angeles, CA
Poetry In Motion Brandon Wint/Craig Allen Conoley    2011    Ottawa, ON
I My Bike Ken Paul Rosenthal            2002    San Francisco, CA
./still Machi Miyahara            2011    Tokyo, Japan
The Next War Robert Priest/Allen Booth        2008    Toronto, ON
barefeet Sonali Gulati                2002    Richmond, VA


Sandpiper Elizabeth Bishop/John D. Scott    2011    Ithaca, NY
Penitentiary Doctor Mongo/Michael Rouse        2010    Los Angeles, CA
Stop the War on the Poor Robert Priest/Allen Booth        1999    Toronto, ON
Teacups & Mink Leanne Averbach            2008    Vancouver, BC
The Self as Both Object and Subject Myna Wallin/Henry Mak        2011    Toronto, ON
Blue Covers Indira Allegra                 2008    Oakland, CA
Amicable Depictions Britt Hobart                2011    Santa Barbara, CA
Anticipated Results Dennis E. Bolen/Susan Cormier    2011    Vancouver, BC
What do animals dream? Yahia Lababidi/Swoon Bildos        2011    Mechelen, Belgium
Highway Coda Matt Mullins                2011    Muncie, IN
Incident on College Street Jill Battson                1994    Toronto, ON
Just Watch Janet Marie Rogers            2011    Victoria, BC
Prodigal Alastair Cook                2011    Edinburgh, Scotland
On the Other Hand of Time Penn Kemp/Brenda McMorrow/DennisSiren 2011    London, ON
Black Iris Sheila Packa/Kathy McTavish        2011     Duluth, MN
Stockholm Syndrome Howie Good/Swoon Bildos        2011    Mechelen, Belgium
Human Condition Rich Ferguson/Mark Wilkinson.    2010    Los Angeles, CA
Sleepdancing (Giddoo) Yahia Lababidi/Swoon Bildos        2011    Mechelen, Belgium
Gargoyle Weather Joe Boyce Burgess            2011    Vancouver, BC

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