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Video poetry originates in experimental films, but is based on the given text of a poem. OCA creative writing tutor Csilla Toldy’s interest in the art form has grown from her work as a poet and film-maker. In this blog post, she examines the possibilities for the development of video poetry. She will be discussing these in more detail in a paper she is giving at the Mix2 conference at Bath Spa University in July.
The classification ‘video poem’ appeared in the nineteen eighties, alongside the technical improvement that video brought into our homes; hand held cameras with the possibility of editing and projecting the films on a television set. Experimental film makers, video artists were the first creators of video-poems that used the text as a starting point and then mixed sound and text on screen with found or conceptually created moving image.
An interesting example is Tom Konyves’s ‘Sign Language’ (1984), the video version of found poetry, which uses found footage – graffiti on the streets of Vancouver – as the words of the poem.
The digital age offers even greater possibilities, allowing one to film on something as simple as a phone and edit it on home computers. From the same place they can be self-published, too. Even basic editing softwares such as Imovie are capable to slow down and fast forward, juxtapose and inlay moving clips into each other. Apart from self-publishing on Youtube or Vimeo, many online poetry magazines have a section for video poetry, such as Poets and Writers, one of America’s leading online poetry magazines.
When video poetry became established as an art form in its own right, the need arose to clarify its dimensions and to lift it out from the plethora of poetic films that did not use text and moving image that simply illustrated or narrated a poem. Therefore, Tom Konyves published the Manifesto of Video Poetry in 2011, which you can listen to him talk about at the Visible Verse Festival in Vancouver in 2011.
In this manifesto he implores that text and moving image as well as sound should create a new experience, which we would not get otherwise by simply reading the poem. You might recognise the insistence on the non-illustration element. A source of high quality video poetry is the Moving Poems blog, which is curated by Dave Bonta.
When I created ‘Point’, a video poem, I was mainly concerned with the layers of a poem, which are often beyond words and how you can convey these with moving imagery.
In this context, video poetry is using the transcendental quality of metaphor. A video poem can convey subliminal feelings and messages which are beyond words or not yet formed in language. If video poetry is a form you have any experience of working in, how was it different to the process of writing poetry on paper or on a screen?