Tag Archives: videopoem

Visible Verse Festival 2013 programme!

from "Something" by Keith Sargeant

Whew! Alright, announcing the 2013 Visible Verse Festival programme! As with last year, we recieved a record number of entries, over 200. The little festival that could keeps growing and like we always say, we’re proud to remain the sustaining venue in North America for artistically significant videopoetry and film. This year will be our 14th!

We received stellar works from South Africa, Thailand, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, Canada, the U.S, Ireland and the UK. With only one night of screenings, I am unable to include a lot of video poems I like.

Fortunately the program does include Literary Movement, a discussion with R.W. Perkins on the process of creating videopoems and the integration of modern filmmaking techniques, Q&A to follow. We will be screening his videopems Morning Sex & Blueberry Pancakes and Small Talk & Little Else. R.W. Perkins is a poet and filmmaker from Fort Collins, Colorado. His work has been published in the Atticus ReviewMoving PoemsThe Denver EgotistThe Connotation Press, and The Huffington Post Denver. Perkins’s work has been featured at film festivals all over the world, including an 18-state U.S. tour with the New Belgium Brewery’s Clips of Faith Beer & Film Tour in 2012 and at the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival in Berlin, Germany. Perkins is also the creator and director of The Body Electric Poetry Film Festival, Colorado’s first poetry film festival, which held its inaugural event in May of this year. For more information on Perkins and his work, visit www.rw-perkins.com. We’re thrilled to have him!

The festival is Sat, Oct. 12 at the Cinematheque in Vancouver. My son has promised to edit a trailer for me, I’ll post it asap. *See* you there!


Underground No One Famous/Blair Dykes Vancouver, BC 2011

Language of Desire Kathryn MacLean Edmonton, AB 2013

When Walt Whitman Was a Little Girl Jim Haverkamp Durham, NC 2012

Lapis and Centaurs Frank Müller Hamburg, Germany 2013

Something Keith Sargeant/Charles Bukowski poem London, UK 2012

Day Is Done Swoon Bildos Mechelen, Belgium 2012

Textual Assault Placards Wally Keeler Cobourg, ON 2012

Last Words of the Condemned Diane Arterian Los Angeles, CA 2013

‘1-poem-6’ Pablo López Jordan/Vangelis Skouras    London, UK & Murcia, Spain

Like So Alan David Pritchard   Isle of Wight, UK 2011

I thought I was more memorable James O Leary   Cork, Ireland 2013

Camel Matt Robertson Vancouver, BC 2013

Suburban Sylph of Crying Owls Gavin Jones North Yorkshire, UK 2013

PDA Kal Estrel   Kingston, UK 2012

Onion of Love Kirk Ramdath   Calgary, AB

Covered In Grass Aaron Samuels    Cranston, Rhode Island

expect something and nothing at once Michelle Elrick   Winnipeg, MN

Morning Sex & Blueberry Pancakes R.W. Perkins   Fort Collins, Colorado


On Meeting A Fox Janette Ayachi Edinburgh, Scotland

Full English Christopher Stewart Middlesbrough, UK

Not Death but Love: Tracing the Heart of Elizabeth Barrett Browning Gerard Wozek/Mary Russell
Chicago, IL

With Only My Hands Sergej Bezuglov/ Zakaryia Amatoya/Cece Nobre Bangkok, Thailand

Crow Morphologies Tara Flyn/Daniela Elza/Soressa Gardner Vancouver, BC 2013

Through The Eyes of the Wind Adam Jacobs/Forrest Casey Golden Valley, MN 2012

Futures of the Past Ray Hsu/Michael Parks/Chloe Chan Vancouver, BC 2013

To This Day Shane Koyzan Pentiction, BC 2013

Requiem for Lithium Jason Staggie Capetown, South Africa 2012

Small Talk & Little Else R.W. Perkins Fort Collins, Colorado 2013

Thief Behind The Mask CR Avery Vancouver, BC 2013

Love Gang Tara Evonne Trudell Las Vegas, NM

The Poet Is Artificially Removed Jordan Abel Vancouver, BC

I Love The Internet Kevin Barrington Dublin, Ireland

Rhythm of Structure John Sims New York, NY

Appraisal Melissa Diem Dublin, Ireland 2013

From Within Alexandre Braga Lisbon, Portugal 2013

Orange Taien Ng-Chan Montreal, QC 2005

Innisfree Don Carey (based on the WB Yeats poem) Dublin, Ireland 2013


The challenges therein. And as I near completion, filled with doubt. Naturally. Firstly, shooting has been difficult. It’s fucken raining all the time. Started in March, figured that would be plenty of time for the May 2 deadline but at this point, my options are narrowing. I hope we have enough footage. I need to do a couple of shots over and of course, it’s pouring out. Fingers crossed. I nearly screwed up my camera shooting in the rain, trying to forge ahead. It started malfunctioning. Fortunately a friend reminded me of a trick; sealing it in a Ziploc bag with rice, which dried it nicely. I was relieved to say the least.

Secondly, no close ups! The lens is so limited, I am reduced to medium shots. Period. The damn thing goes out of focus at one foot. I wanted to isolate eyes, mouths, hands. Forget it. I tried to find found footage but matching it with ours didn’t work as my 17-year old son/editor pointed out. He’s been helping me on videopoems since age eight, but this is our first real collaboration, a challenge in and of itself but mostly highly gratifying. He kicks my butt! Will not allow shots that are too shaky or out of focus. So funny. I said, hey, I’m not trying to be Steven Spielberg. I will make choices you wouldn’t. We argue for a bit and he wins. ‘Cause he’s right. We have standards. That’s my boy. He amazes me; taught himself to edit video at age ten, began producing machinimas and has had his own YouTube channel since. He’s got a lovely podcasting set-up going too which he allows me to use sometimes. We’ve developed a system in the house so he remains undisturbed while recording. He places a funky beaded necklace—a souvenir of Hawaii—on the door handle. I’m so lucky, he’s a great kid  and he works cheap; the third major challenge, a zero budget. (I’ve spent fifty bucks on a dress and seven bucks on flowers.) We barter. I copy edit his fan fiction in return for video editing services.

Fourth; try being subject, director, stylist, costumer, make-up and hair person simultaneously. Tough. Onward and upward. Today we finish the titles and credits. I wanted to use the font on the cover of my book Three Blocks West of Wonderland, designed by Derek von Essen who kindly sent it along. Called Block, it only works on a Mac. So Junior and I delighted in finding a something similar. I knew it was reminiscent of a 50s font, reminded me of the titles from old science fiction movies, so of course we googled “50s sci fi movies” and found a great site,  Tack-O-Rama, Retro Resources for Designers.  Junior insisted on going through them all until we came upon “Jungle Fever” which seems so apropos, after working through a jungle of obstacles and setbacks.

And as we work we are developing methods, infrastructure, process. Shoot. Render. Watch and identify clips, noting the best, most viable and figure out the right place for them in the piece. I make notes on a hard copy of the poem. Then create a rough cut. Experiment. Re shoot. Refine.

Using white Christmas lights to suggest stars, constellations. Doing Orion over but Cassiopeia came out nearly perfect. Serendipity. Yes! And as I was shooting, I had to back up into a rhododendron. Ouch. I’m getting to the point where it’s hard to figure out what to change, to be objective at all. I hope to have time to post the rough cut and get a little feedback but it may be too late for that, which means I will have to trust my instincts, go for it. Deadlines are harsh but very ultimately useful. So here it be, our new videopoem, Whore In The Eddy with audio from our AURAL Heather CD of spoken word songs, Princess Nut.

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” ― Oscar Wilde



Still completely immersed in videopoem production, verging on burn out so I’m a little slow on the uptake. I should have posted this 4/20. For the record, I oppose prohibition. Any American-style War On Drugs is a farce. Christ, smoking pot is a tradition in this country. And Stephen Harper is an asshole, on the issue, along with most others. But, hey, we keep voting for him. In any case, I’m happy to report this poem has been selected for Ooligan Press‘s Pacific Poetry Project: An Anthology of Three Cities. (Seattle, Vancouver, Portland.) It’s from my collection, Three Blocks West of Wonderland.



Hookah squats on carpet, Buddha

-esque. Undulating spirals of sapphire

smoke hula up her nose. That buzz.

That buzz that slows your blood,


calls you back to bed like a lover.

Soothes your inner asshole.

B.C. bud. Best bud

in the world. Worth risking jail for.


High-resolution satellite images.

Narcs’ warrant executed Tuesday.

Grow-op raided Wednesday.

Dozens of firearms. Five thousand plants.


Big bust for a small town, says Constable Cook.

For export, for sure.

Cultivation facilities dismantled.

Straight people relieved. Green party over,

but Zoe cried. It was the best job ever!


Dope dealers pay well. Her boyfriend

sold product at school. Their responsibilities

included digging a tunnel under the border,

blaming black fingernails and muddy jeans

on dirt biking at the gravel pit.


Parents were shocked. We thought she

on Facebook, chatting. We thought he was

on the Internet, with her, boy’s father chiding,

it’s APPLEton, son, not Marijuanaton.



Fortunately my current videopoem project is going much more smoothly than the one depicted in this poem. Don’t hire crazy people, the moral of the story I guess. It can be hard to tell though; sociopaths are often charming and erudite.


After enduring a gestation period
of eighteen months
and several bouts of incommunicado-ness
she dutifully reports to the clay eater’s

rat’s nest to defend her lump of art
before he nibbled away all the footage.
She sings his praises, pretending
the indiscriminate cravings

and grinding teeth do not exist,
do not wear her down.
Meth-heads don’t generate, they spin
scratched vinyl, shoot blankly,

regurgitate turbulence, gnaw and brew
dandelion wine because it’s free,
free as roadside blackberries
and meadows of psilocybin.

Pirate of his own ship-
bachelor pad bouncy house-
sleeping in a pocket on the floor,
close to the cache

when he isn’t busy
snipping, sniping.
Under the red toque
a mind’s eye so muddied

it can see nothing
Bloodied images, frames, shots
blur unremittingly.

Recreate. Rework. Repeat.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
With no redress, no kind release,
she seriously considers murder.


In creation mode. Senses heightened, sensitive to light, its nuances, everything framed, perceived as a potential shot for the new videopoem. Grateful it isn’t snowing, spring has arrived at last. Must strike while the sun is out. Need to find the exact right angle to shoot arm-in-puddle. Wish we had a longer lens, could get more of the background, create a more intriguing horizon but oh well, have to work with what you have. Or have not, tripod so flimsy it handles like a toy tripod. I lie on the ground. The things I do for art. Direct sun creates shadows and throws glare everywhere. Will shoot anyway and do over if necessary. I can see why nature photographers get paid the big bucks. I can see but can’t even capture a plane flying overhead though my hands are numbs from the cold. And I have to think that viewing hundreds of videopoems in my role as Visible Verse Festival curator has honed my sensibilities, crystallized vision.

Working with my boy, my teenaged son who taught himself how to edit video at age 10 so he could post machinimas on his YouTube channel. It’s been going well, better than I thought. He actually takes direction. We’re a good team, working through challenges together; rough terrain, crappy equipment and tricky shots, problem solving in tandem. He tends to rush through things so our process demonstrates process. He was only about seven years old when I produced my first videopoem Dying for the Pleasure. We shot it on a friend’s farm out in South Surrey and Junior was on location, helping. He refused to watch it for many years, found it too disturbing. Nowadays he banters with his buddies online, exchanging insults and cursing like a truck driver. Or gamer.

So back to work. We’ll be in shooting, then editing mode for the next month. Said to Junior that being an artist can feel like a curse, but at least I have the guts to be what I am. Which is what I’ve always encouraged him to do, be his own man, true to himself.

Remembering Riflemen Whilst Bushwhacking

Good trick, eh? 11 • 11• 11. Felt like any other, though good news arrived to brighten the short, dark, cold November days. My videopoem Bushwhack is an official selection of the International Literary Film Festival, Director Lee Bob Black, “excited to be screening it along with many other brilliant films.”

I still have not had an opportunity to write an account of our recent Visible Verse Festival, swamped with novel queries, hustling, but did take time to honour our war dead on Rememberance Day. My maternal grandfather Rifleman Reginald Haley of Matapédia, Quebec was a member of the Royal Rifles taken prisoner by the Japanese Christmas Eve 1941, dying of dysentery a few awful years later. My friend author Dennis E. Bolen said it was a damn shame how the outfit had been abandoned by Churchill, tortured for years by the Imperial Japanese. Though we both have many dear Japanese friends, agree that their government’s refusal to apologize is deplorable. He recommended a book on the subject, War Without Mercy, which “attempts to explain the racism wherein the Japs considered North American Caucasians to be effete and we considered Asians to be sub-human. Bad combination.”Indeed. I recently read Michael Crummy’s The Wreckage, which vividly depicted the brutality of a Japanese POW camp and some people, usually Americans, claim that the Kamikaze ideology is what got them nuked. And there’s my hapless big Mick grandfather Reggie caught in the crossfire. Sadly the soldiers that survived received no hero’s welcome either. I regret never having had the privilege of knowing him, sounds like we would have got on. Hell, my mother could barely remember him, only eight years old when he died, leaving her, my grandmother Genora and four brothers and sisters bereft and impoverished. I can honestly say the tremendous loss of my grandfather has impacted our family to this day.

Rest in peace Reginald.

Post fest!

And boy, are my brains tired! Recovering from Visible Verse Festival 2011, will return soon with an account. All reports so far state this was the best program yet. We did receive twice as many submissions so the (visible) word is slowly getting out, which benefits both artists and audiences.

In the meantime, check out my latest videopoem, Where Sins Are More Sinful, if you like, a serendipitous collaboration with the remarkable Belgian media artist Swoon Bildos, AKA Marc Neys, who submitted a swack of works. We selected four; On Edward Hopper’s Automat, What do animals dream?, Stockholm Syndrome and Sleepdancing (Giddoo). You can check also out the Moving Poems site while you’re there. Dave Bonta is a big booster of the genre and the festival. “Moving Poems is an on-going anthology of the best poetry videos from around the web, appearing at a rate of one every weekday most weeks.”

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. Continue reading

This dream, this precious life

Stormy weather and animal dreams. I was in a slaughterhouse, looking at a hole in the wall. A mouse hole? A hand reached out to stroke the snout of a hippo. To soothe it? Are they related to swine or do they just look like they are? Then many hands emerged from the hole, not exactly waving. Next night, with a guinea pig on my shoulder, I watched as a woman in a window frolicked with four little lap dogs, all different breeds, housed within a kind of four-plex cage. So I don’t know what’s up with that but perhaps such bizarreness was triggered by news of an incident in North Carolina, a sheriffs’ department using stray dogs for target practice, which made me think of the sled dogs that were euthanized in Whistler post-Olympics, after they lost their usefulness. Ah, human cruelty knows no bounds. We treat each other like garbage too.

Word on the Street Festival endured more weather challenges than usual, tents on Hamilton Street blown down by high winds. I was astounded, thought they’d cancelled or something. That would be a first. Then we endured a colossal downpour. An hour later, rainbows and sunshine, me cursing. I always travel with sunglasses and an umbrella but that morning couldn’t imagine the sun emerging. I should know better after all these years of Vancouver weather. Highlights, Elizabeth Bachinksy’s Event Magazine writers/readers Wayde ComptonCharles Demers and Amber Dawn. They’re celebrating 40 years, as is Talonbooks. As usual I ran into many fellow maniacs, happy to see the majority. (Some) people will treat you like garbage, if you let them. One perk of maturity; I know life is precious. Ditto time.

And we are not dogs. Dinner with precious friends. Does wine tastes better in a restaurant or is it just me I asked? Laughter. It’s just you Heather. True enough. It’s just me.

Recovering from an intense weekend of Visible Verse Festival programming. Whew! It really has grown, this festival and I was forced to make some very tough decisions. There were more than a few submissions in the Maybe pile that I wanted to screen but ran out of time. I announced the program Monday, making quite a few artists very happy in the process. Guess it’s all worth it.

I’m posting the essay I wrote for Sheri-D’s Spoken Word Workbook earlier this year. She’ll be in town to perform at the Vancouver International Writers Festival next month and will facilitate a master class in spoken word as well. I’ve been asked how collaborating in music and video affects my practice, thought this answered the question:


By Any Medium Necessary

Subversive, sub rosasidewayslike a snake in the grass is often how an artist must move and technology can help us cover more ground. I address social issues in my work but I dread dogma as much as cliché. I believe that being an artist is a political statement.

Though founder of the Edgewise ElectroLit Centre, I am not a technocrat. I felt strongly it was Continue reading

(G)literati and Fighting the Good Fight

Author Kevin Chong

Where’s the poem? Swamped this week screening submissions for Visible Verse Festival 2011 and up to my eyeballs in experimental film, which happens every year. Without being semantical, I have to say poetic is not the same as visible verse, or a video poem or a cine-poem, or whichever term you prefer. I think I just got semantical.

Still laughing and sharing photos from Kevin Chong’s book launch of new novel Beauty and Pity at Vancouver’s infamous Penthouse nightclub, the first and likely the last time I’ll ever set my ass down in there. I was surprised; the interior does not reflect the fading building facade. Neither did the carpet reek of stale beer, wall of framed 8×10 black and white celebrity headshots only one of its charms. Anyway, I’ve spent enough time in strip clubs. Bartending was the only job I could find in New York City when I resided, or rather survived a year there in the 80s. Man, it was a tough town, nothing like it is now, inhabitable. A friend of a friend got me a job at the Baby Doll, a topless bar on White Street, just down from the Mudd Club, where we used to convene after our shifts ended at 2 AM, or at the sushi bar imbibing hot sake, which goes down well in the company of bitterly cold Manhattanites. Club management kept trying to get me to strip too. I was quite miserable after my band broke up and told them, “No thanks, I don’t miss the stage that much.” I only had to watch the dancers—what was left of them—flaunt it, appalled by the Wall Street fat cat CEOs and bankers turned on by such pathetic junkies. No way I was going to wind up down there.

But back to Vancouver. I love book launches that are beyond readings. Kevin commissioned a book trailer, directed and produced by mutual friends Pam Bentley and Tara Flynn and it was hilarious. The book jacket states “Malcolm Kwan is a slacker twenty-something Asian-Canadian who is about to embark on a modeling career.” Kevin had Owen Kwong, a real male model, portray him. Later during the reading, host Charles Demers applied makeup to Kevin’s face, and not expertly, bestowing him with a magnificent unibrow. Kevin admirably kept reciting throughout the lipstick and purple wig application. What an event! And so glamorous. I’m enjoying the book immensely, can recommend it.

Attended a Continue reading