To view more videopoems by various artists, visit Visible Verse on Facebook
With access to ten years of Vancouver Videopoem Festival and Visible Verse archives, Heather Haley can tailor a program suitable for your event.
VISIBLE VERSE FESTIVAL 2013 Call for Entries and Official Guidelines:
- VVF seeks videopoems with a 12 minutes 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 for your videopoem along with a brief bio, full name, and contact information to Artistic Director Heather Haley at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no official application form nor entry fee.
VISIBLE VERSE FESTIVAL Oct. 2013 DEADLINE: Aug. 1, 2013
OUR GRASSROOTS ARE SHOWING! Visible Verse Festival 2012 Post-mortem
Earthquakes. Hurricanes. End times? Well, I’m high on a ridge, icing a sprained ankle, trying to focus on a post-mortem of this year’s Visible Verse Festival at Pacific Cinémathèque. Fortunately far-flung friends and relatives have all assured me they are safe, so I will proceed.
“The best year yet!” is what I was told repeatedly. Good turnout, a bit of press coverage, and wonderful new staff to work with, the festival is definitely entering a fresh and exciting phase. Era. Changing the date from November to October, immediately following the Vancouver International Film Festival helped raise our profile, and get more bums in the seats. I’ve never understood how filmmakers and cinephiles could not be curious about a fusion of verse and the moving image. Wouldn't that work to inform one’s own work?
Though I had help from family members, the at-home transferring process was laborious. Brutal. I will have to figure out a way to expedite matters next year and I’m determined to find an intern. Or two. There has been much talk of producing a trailer for promotional purposes but so far, it’s all talk. *sigh* Maybe next year. I'm glad the festival is growing but it's becoming too much for one person, director. Our grass roots are showing.
I should refine my instructions after receiving all manner of file formats, many so huge they took far too long to download. Getting them onto disk was exacting and time consuming. I went to the theatre several times for run-throughs with a very capable and charming Aussie projectionist. With 38 selections, things can get a bit hairy, but everything looked and sounded fantastic. All the hard work was worth it. I received many compliments on the programming as well, which was gratifying, as it’s the toughest task.
My dear friend and comrade-in-music Julie Vik put us up at the Holiday Inn across the street so I was able to go back and forth to attend to duties, despite several formidable distractions. At 3:30 I helped Alberta artist Phillip Jagger, AKA Satoreye Dreamtime, set up for his Reigning In Chaos: Words Into Video hands-on workshop, demonstrating the Kaos pad, iPod and video jamming software. And demonstrate he did! Wild man Phil performed his work, then shared much useful information about his process in an engaging manner, encouraging participants to come up and try out his gear.
I returned to the hotel to change, got back to the theatre lobby, nervous, happy to greet artists and poets as they arrived. It’s always very exciting to see and hear my selections on the big screen at last. We kicked off year 13 of the festival at 7 PM. With a full program, due to the record number of entries, I kept my introduction brief but took time to thank Jim Sinclair and the rest of the staff and volunteers at Pacific Cinémathèque, proclaiming our pride as North America's sustaining venue for artistically significant videopoetry and poetry film.
We opened with the big, bombastic and sublimely funny stream of consciousness Profile by R.w. Perkins, tall text of “VIDEOPOEM” immediately running across the screen, echoed by the narrator’s neighbour sporting new sunglasses, jogging with a baby stroller. Next, The Lammas Hireling by Paul Casey, based on an Ian Duhig poem gave me goosebumps throughout; only partly because I’m Irish and the magnificent score by Macarena Ferrer featured a mighty fiddle. Its time-lapsed photography lent much foreboding, its climax truly shocking. Whoever You Are, by the collective Machine Libertine, based on a Natasha Romanova poem, was compelling, hypnotic. I kept trying to get my gamer son to take a gander as it appropriates footage from Final Fantasy. Brilliantly, I might add.
The equally brilliant Song for Elliott Jacques by Tommy Becker’s take on the mid-life crisis was hilarious and had us rolling in the proverbial aisles. Becker dedicated it to "psychologist Elliott Jaques who coined the term “midlife crisis” in his 1965 article "Death and the Midlife Crisis”. Jaques, a psychoanalyst, was initially interested in examining the notion of the midlife crisis as it related to creative genius after discovering that an alarming number of highly creative minds; Mozart, Raphael, Chopin, Rimbaud, Purcell, and Baudelaire encountered tragic deaths between the ages of 35 and 39. It is only through crisis that self-realization can occur. It is only through crisis that we begin to uncover truth and strengthen our relationships to our authentic selves. Crisis brings with it the destruction of self. It opens the door for us to once again be lost, not know, declare our individualism and allow the transcendence of self to begin." I have to agree, and maybe don't have to feel so bad about recent crisis'; rather put them perspective as an inherent part of the (artist's) landscape.
Her way with language! London, UK’s soft spoken word artist Sonority Turner’s Portrait of a Listener relentlessly lured us in despite its setting, a noisy subway tunnel, replete with ominous, deep rumblings. Sky Canoe, a collaboration between Prince George artists Al Rempel, Phil Morrison, Steph St. Laurent and Jeremy Stewart, rolled over us with light, beauty, power and an intriguing score.
For the past few years, I’ve looked forward to receiving a long list of links to the prolific Belgian artist Swoon's exceptional videopoetry. Marc Neys, a veritable one-man production company, has produced over 60 videopoems and collaborated with many poets and writers in many languages. This year I selected Cioran for the poem by Peter Wullen?, voice and concept by Bart Stouten, Odds and Ends for the poem by Joseph Harker and The Road Not Taken, based on the Robert Frost poem, which alluded to its subject via kinetic bright yellow flashes sandwiched between black bars, expertly read by the alluringly-voiced Nic Sebastian. A sound designer as well as a musician, Swoon understands the vital role of voice.
Writer, composer, and performer Gary Barwin’s quirky Inverting the Deer enchanted and amused with its unsettling juxtapositions of nature and machine. The ineluctable beauty of Jing Zhous’s Inner Shrine made the hair on my neck stand on end.
Ian Keteku’s Indie Venture animated Right Side Up delighted with outlandish riddles and a winsome score by ukulele wielding troubadour Brad Morden, featuring backup vocals by Chloe Perrault and Gabrielle Giguere. Who says I don’t like spoken word? I cut my milk teeth on it, as a performer, and believe strongly there is a symbiotic relationship between song and verse, that they evolved simultaneously, rhythm, rhyme and melody providing powerful mnemonic devices, myth preserved in the process.
Song for Disobedient Youth, another selection from San Francisco’s Tommy Becker, presented a warped but strikingly accurate homage to the priorities of youth. “It invites the viewer to momentarily indulge in the fantasy of youthful rebellion, self-discovery, recklessness, love, disregard, dream and contempt that continues to escape us as we are pulled further into the constructs of age and culture,” and in a most visceral way.
Martha Mccollogh’s animated Mr. Lucky's Jackpot made me laugh, but then I’m often accused of being "dark," which is rather akin to informing me that my hair is red. As ye old bard said, "If I laugh, it's that I do not cry" and one of the major challenges of programming this festival is finding enough humour--black or not--to mix in with the plethora of ponderous death and dying themed videpoems. Mr. Lucky's Jackpot had the temerity to suggest that we kid ourselves into presuming that our own death will somehow be significant. “Certain that when it comes, your death will make sense.”
Several people made a point of coming up and telling me how much Duriel Harris and Scott Rankin’s Speleology held them spellbound with it’s strategic utilization of silence, like white space on a page. That was followed by the exuberant, raucously funny Dear Pluto directed by the queen of independent indie animation, Joanna Priestly, and performed by spoken word giant Taylor Mali, based on his poem Pizza.
We then enjoyed a brief intermission, smokers popping out for a wet puff in the rain while many of the audience remained in their seats, a good sign. I too was anxious to get back and see the rest of the program.
The second half opened with the aforementioned Machine Libertine’s singular take on John Giorno’s poem/admonition to Just Don't Not Do It. That was followed by Tim Cumming’sFlowers,” written on a walk from Hampstead Heath station to the Steeles in Belsize Park where he was offered snuff laced with cocaine and heard the story of the Moll King, the good mixer of Georgian London, a famous bawd and the inspiration for Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders. Including footage of witch dolls, amulets and mandrakes from the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle," Flowers was beautifully fetishistic and profoundly spooky.
The second in a series of twelve tone poems based on a form of Japanese linked poetry, renku, Eve Luckring’s Junicho Video Renku Series-#2 evoked laughter with its absurdist sounds and editing and did indeed, “combine to create a richly layered experience of time and space.”
Powerful. Make Me A Doorway, directed by Jesse Russell Brooks, based on poetry written and performed with a most distinctive delivery by Alexzenia Davis unerringly depicted the courage required in navigating a volatile gender gap.
First Death in Nova Scotia, directed by award winning filmmaker John D. Scott, based on the Elizabeth Bishop poem is “...wonderfully atmospheric, evocative, true to the spirit of the poem and to the actual events on which the poem is based,” according to Bishop scholar Sandra Barry. All I know is that as the young Bishop locked her gaze onto the glassy red eyes of a stuffed loon, and slowly reached out to touch its white breast feathers, I was unequivocally transported back to childhood.
I actually received a whole swack of masterful animations this year, wish I could have screened them all. I selected two by Norway’s Kristian Pedersen; Norandgsdalen and Viva Zombatista,most apropos with Halloween around the corner. Both pieces were astute abstractions, Pedersen another artist who employs sound to great effect.
Which is what I try to do. We premiered my videopoem Whore In The Eddy, or should I say,our videopoem, and my first collaboration with 17-year old son, who has been helping me on the set of videopoem shoots since he was a wee one. A digital native and avid gamer, Junior taught himself to edit video at age ten and set up his own YouTube channel where he posted machinimas. Adapted from an AURAL Heather track with music by Roderick Shoolbraid, we shot it all on our island home in a matter of weeks, with a crappy tripod and limited lenses. As previously stated elsewhere, Junior kicked my butt! We argued over shots. “Hey, I’m not trying to be Steve Spielberg,” I said. “I don’t care, it’s out of focus, you have to do it over.” "Hey, those are deliberate." But I did do some of them over and he was right. In any case, I was relieved and happy to see it on the big screen. I’d worried it wasn’t good enough but was reassured that we had in fact achieved a “concise, well-directed videopoem with an eerily perfect sense of timing, the photography superior” In the process, Junior and I have set up Visible Verse Productions, ready, willing and able to produce the work of other poets and writers.
In keeping with the theme of women in water, we featured the rousing Saltwater by Glenn-emlyn Richards ?in collaboration with poet Eleanor Rees, resolutely voiced by Lindsay Rodden. “I need words to wash our wounds.” An industrial landscape, rendered in charcoal observed and influenced by a symbolic wood-engraved figure representing the spirit and voice of radical women.”
With ladders and doors to nowhere, Mia Degner’s Everywhere and Inside made ingenious use of a spartan gallery/performance space. “Helena Diana Mach is playing the part of the poet's conscious; visualizing the themes of the Anne Louise Fagerlund Mortensen poems presented. Jorgensen writes with intense fragility, and the film aims to capture this poetic universe.Everywhere & Inside is a stylized glimpse into the mind of a desperate young woman trying to deal with the pain of lost love.”
Bonfire became another Halloween appropriate piece with its ravens, tombstones and Daniel Mark Patterson’s unique choice of words.
Directed by Tara Flynn, Dennis E Bolen delivers the insouciant words below in his inimitable, deadpan delivery in Everybody, superbly accompanied by Soressa Gardners's score and photography by Gabor Gasztonyi.
Everybody knew somebody/?Age of battered pickup?Cigarette load ashtray butt/?Everybody knew?/Grease coif armpit stain/?Snagglepick match tooth/Beyond the unconscious ethic/?Only the responsibly parented survive/Everybody knew belt free toddler?Everybody?/Unrestraint seat bench projectile/?To the outskirts of wisdom/Everybody knew somebody dead?Of car crash/Undershirt men/Cross-eye sway fatigue/Pace toward a next shift/?To hew and draw and maintain?/Skirted metal box with wheels?/Rented concrete... Check out this far more comprehensive review of Everybody at Urban Graffiti.
This year we enjoyed the privilege of sharing selections with the VideoBardo Festival in Buenos Aires, including the whimsical Pez by Eduardo Romaguera and Terrorsounds by Jakob Kirchheim & Teresa Delgado, which capably depicts dread, or potential threat underlying the prosaic.
The outstanding little black strap, a most delightful adaptation of legendary Canadian writer and our first poet laureate, George Bowering’s poem, was produced and directed by Pamela Bentley.
The aforementioned visiting artist Phillip A Jagger’s Stazen Of The Lost was up next, with it’s relentless rail rhythms and word play. Next, a lovely animation, directed and produced by the poet, Fiona Tinwei Lam’s quietly moving Omelet was as sublimely executed as its subject.
We have screened Joe Boyce Burgess’s stellar videopoetry in the past but this was her first year as Josie Boyce. At her blog The Josie Pages, she discusses how nervous she was, though excited to see Seldomly Transgender Anymore at the festival. “I made the video, last autumn when I was in the throes of my most self loathing period ever. Dark times. That are over, thankfully. It is the best of the entries that I sent in this year. It was a zen moment, the creation of the video as was the writing of the poem.”
We were happy to host Elliot Hearte, the director of the Jeremy Loveday’s unabashedly romantic videopoem, Evolution of Love. Though from Victoria, Elliot is living and working in Saint John, New Brunswick and we discussed the possibility of taking Visible Verse to the Maritimes.
I’m always grateful to receive work from the hilarious and irreverent Robert Priest. It provides a respite from the previously mentioned doom and gloom and much appreciated comic relief, this year’s Colours of Bullshit being no exception. Chanson d’automme-Autumn Song by Rachel Laine, based on the Paul Verlaine poem provided a short, sweet French-language interlude. Beautifully shot in Islamasbad, Pakistan by Julien Phillipe, My Daddy Loves Me is a (video)poem and loving homage by Habib Asfar.
Whew! All in all, an incredible line-up and indeed, our best year year.
VISIBLE VERSE FESTIVAL 2011
VISIBLE VERSE FESTIVAL at Pacific Cinémathèque
Nov. 4 & 5, 2011
It was a blast! We were thrilled and honoured to host poets from disparate places: Kath MacLean from Edmonton, Rich Ferguson from Los Angeles, Alexander Jorgensen from Pittsburgh, Britt Hobart from Santa Barbara while our own Tom Konyves delivered an excellent talk on his newly minted VIDEOPOETRY: A Manifesto. Links to documentary videos and artists' websites are provided below.
ARTIST TALK with pioneering videopoet Tom Konyves
In 1978, Tom Konyves coined the term “videopoetry”, a genre he pioneered as a member of the Montreal avant-garde group, the Vehicule Poets. His first videopoem was Sympathies of War, using slides, live performance and typed text on the screen. His most recent videopoem is All The Day Is Good For, a collaboration with his son, Alexander. Videopoems 1978-2004, is available on DVD (AM Productions, 2004). He initiated public poetry projects, such as Poesie En Mouvement (Poetry on the Buses 1979) and The Great Canadian Poetry Machine (Expo 86), curated Montreal’s first Concrete Poetry Exhibition (Vehicule Art, 1980) and gave numerous poetry performances, including In A Station of the Metro by Ezra Pound (1979) and Marie the Poem (1981). He wrote and performed Drummer Boy Raga: Red Light, Green Light (1979) a collaboration with most of the Vehicule Poets. He left Montreal for Vancouver, in 1983. He started up a video production facility, wrote and produced numerous TV programs, including the widely-broadcast documentary, To Return: The John Walkus Story (Global Totem Pictures, 2000). He now teaches Screenwriting 111 and Word and Image 165, a creative visual writing course at UCFV in Abbotsford, BC.
VISITING POETS READING- ALEXANDER JORGENSEN
His visual work and writings have appeared in such publications as VLAK, Moria, Drunken Boat, Noon: Journal of the Short Poem, Shampoo, The Return of Kral Majales: Prague's International Literary Renaissance 1990-2010, and others. "Letters to a Younger Poet," correspondences with the late Robert Creeley, appears in Jacket #31. His visual poetry has been exhibited in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kolkata, Prague, Moscow, Toronto, and most recently at the 2011 Text Festival in Bury, UK. He has lived in such disparate places as the US, China, India, the Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Oman, and the Galapagos Archipelago.
From California, RICH FERGUSON
Rich Ferguson has performed across the United States and has shared the stage with Patti Smith, Exene Cervenka, T.C. Boyle, Loudon Wainwright, Bob Holman, and many other esteemed poets and musicians. He has performed on The Tonight Show, at the Redcat Theater in Disney Hall, the New York City International Fringe Festival, the Bowery Poetry Club, the South by Southwest Music Festival, the DocMiami International Film Festival, the Topanga Film Festival, and Stephen Elliott's “Rumpus.” He is also a featured performer in the film, What About Me? (the sequel to the double Grammy-nominated film 1 Giant Leap), featuring Michael Stipe, Michael Franti, k.d. lang, Krishna Das, and others. He has been published in the LA TIMES, spotlighted on PBS (Egg: The Art Show), and was a winner in Opium Magazine's Literary Death Match, LA. He is a regular contributor and poetry editor to the online literary journal, The Nervous Breakdown.
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 2010 Toronto, ON
Emily Melting Alastair Cook 2010 Edinburgh, Scotland
Lingual Ladies Adeena Karasick 2008 New York, NY
dollhouse Shabnam Piryaei 2010 New York, NY
Ache In My Name Vivek Shraya 2011 Toronto, ON
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
In 2010 we celebrated 10 YEARS OF VIDEOPOETRY at Pacific Cinémathèque!
In 1999 the Vancouver Videopoem Festival—the first of its kind in Canada—began as an effort of the Edgewise ElectroLit Centre, a non-profit literary arts organization dedicated to expanding the reach of poetry through new media with programs such as Telepoetics Vancouver and the Edgewise Café electronic magazine. The Vancouver Vdieopoem Festival became critically regarded owing to its progressive regard for spoken word in cinema, presenting poets both in performance and on the big screen. The audience could explore the merits and distinctions of poetry rendered in these two forms, stage and screen, sparking new dialogue as to the essential nature of poetry. The Vancouver Videopoem Festival then built upon that foundation, with widened explorations into poetry cinema across national frontiers. They presented significant new works from Europe and the Americas, and continued to offer Canadian audiences a remarkably broad selection of new videopoems from their own country.
Pacific Cinémathèque has been the VVF’s partner since 2000 and throughout the dissolution of the Edgewise. Founder Heather Haley continues to provide a sustaining venue for the presentation of new and artistically significant videopoetry as host and curator of SEE THE VOICE: Visible Verse. And owing to Vancouver's strength in the film and television production industries, Haley has been able to cultivate critical interest between filmmakers and poets, with positive consequences for both.
For more information contact Heather Haley at: email@example.com.
About Visible Verse
Sometimes I use the term media poet to describe my work though poetry exists beyond media; always has, always will. I tend to push boundaries by creating across disciplines, genre and media as a poet, author, musician, performer and director. My work manifests online, on paper, on stage, on disc and onscreen.
I believe Jean Cocteau was the first poet to employ film. In 1930 he produced Blood of a Poet, usually categorized as surrealist art. Recently I read about “film poets” from the West Coast abstract school, James Broughton, Sidney Peterson and Hy Hirsh, the latter two collaborating with John Cage in 1947. In 1978 Tom Konyves of Montreal’s Vehicule Poets coined the term “videopoetry” to describe his multimedia work. Rather than get bogged down in semantics, I’d like to point out that I think in terms of moving images and don’t make a huge distinction between film and video. I have worked primarily in digital video as it is accessible and affordable, important considerations to a poet with a small budget and again, poetry exists beyond media.
Though most of us in the West are visually literate, it is brave—foolish some say—to adapt the oral tradition to a medium where image is metaphor. I’m drawn to it simply because it’s natural for me, having grown up with television and cinema. According to my mother, I sat with my mouth open through the entire 78 minutes of Jungle Book, my first movie theatre experience. It’s a powerful medium and I still can’t resist its lure.
In 1999, as one of the curators of the Vancouver Videopoem Festival, I defined videopoem for a journalist by describing it as “a wedding of word and image.” Achieving that level of integration is difficult and rare. In my experience the greatest challenge of this hybrid genre is fusing voice and vision, aligning ear with eye. Some poets like to see words on the screen. The effect can be exquisite but I find that film/video doesn’t accommodate text well. We are busy listening to the poem with our eyes, assimilating it through our ears. I prefer spoken word. Voice is the critical element, medium and venue secondary considerations. Unlike a music video—the inevitable and ubiquitous comparison—a videopoem stars the poem rather than the poet, the voice seen as well as heard. My friend and associate Kurt Heintz, of e-poets.net and director of award-winning videopoems, states it much more eloquently than I can:Notes on Visible Verse 2006Notes on Visible Verse 2005"Our extension of poetry into video seems only to ratify a deeper understanding, as poets and performers, that poetry rests in a continuous spectrum of expanded genres, each genre an amalgam, offering aesthetic expressions that conjoin text with some other creation. Poetry music. Poetry performance. Poetry theatre. Poetry film and video. Whole literatures in the cybernetic realm where the computer enacts by proxy the author's will upon the text.
The breakdown of psychological barriers from literature on the page to literature on the stage was the public's prelude to realizing broader rewards in media poetry of all forms. Poetry video is the public's first step beyond. Even in its most essential form, it demolishes the old assumption that page and poem are one. We now know poetry is where you find it, in the expressions the world offers. We construct, save, and transmit these experiences for the future. Images and sounds now operate as words where we had no previous literature because the symbols of our poetry were confined to paper in the reader's hands. So we have not the end of a literacy, but the construction of a new one: visible, audible, temporal, conscious, tactile, bonding author and reader by their gaze."