Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Tag: videopoetry (page 1 of 2)

all roads lead here & Notes on Adapting Poetry

 

Lately, I’ve gotten back into making videos. This is my fourth in the past month. This one is from a sequence of three related haiku from Highway Sky called “all roads lead here,” a series of LA-related poems.

Since the “poem” is sort of three poems, I wanted the video to have three parts, and I choose footage that I felt would complement the parts, which in essence tell a story of driving to LA in the middle of the night with the intention of watching the sun set on the beach. If you travel to LA from Texas, you’ll probably come in on I-10 which turns into the Santa Monica Freeway and kind of ends at the Santa Monica Pier. So I wanted footage that followed that trajectory. The footage came from Videvo.net, and I was fortunate to find the LA shot and the Santa Monica beach shots with the others shot who-knows-where.

Things got interesting as I was editing. The more I looked at it, I realized I could cut a line from the first haiku which originally read (as published at tinywords):

a hundred miles out
the glow of Los Angeles
desert starlight

The second line seemed redundant with the footage of the LA skyline and city lights. Likewise, I was able to cut the first line from the third haiku as the sunset-over-the-waves image did the work of the first line.

the sun falls to sea
here at the end of the road
nothing left to say

The central haiku was left alone, but I played with the text to try to put it in motion and show the action of the waves erasing the name.

For the sound, I originally imagined some reverb-soaked surf music. I tried something on my guitar and looked for CC music online, but didn’t find anything. On a lark, I tried some wave sounds and liked how it sounded like highway noise while the cars were on screen, but sounded like waves once the beach shot comes in. Interesting how the image can affect what we think we’re hearing.

I liked this process of adaptation. When movies are adapted from books and stories, filmmakers change things. They fire characters and compress scenes in part to save money on paying actors and renting space, but also because there is often no need to say what is shown. Why not something similar with poetry?

I think writers and probably poets especially can get locked into the sanctity of their words and lord knows there are times when that makes sense, but if poetry is to be a conversation even if as in this case with oneself, I think it’s important to let go a little bit especially when changing mediums. My academic background is in film production and screenwriting where the expectation is that the written word is not final so maybe this comes easier for me, but it’s a comfortable way for me to work and I think it’s useful to see where your words can go and a worthwhile exercise to keep playing with what you’ve made and, if you dare, open it up for others to do so as well.

26 January (Videopoem)

 

This is a video I made from “26 January” a poem from Dave Bonta’s excellent Ice Mountain: An Elegy. Dave releases his poetry under a creative commons license, which makes this sort of thing possible. I plan to review the book (and several) others in some future posts–more on that later.

I stumbled on this footage on the ESA/Hubble site while working on Aurora is the effort, and it immediately made me think of Ice Mountain, which I then went back and reread. The ice age reference in the last lines and the fact that “26 January” is one of the more linear poems seemed like a fit for the 1-shot video I imagined.

The footage is an artist’s conception of Pluto, an icy world, apparently lifeless, that resonated for me with the sense of loss and environmental themes that undergird much of Ice Mountain.

For the music, I wanted something that sounded sharp (not musically sharp but sharp as in pointy like icicles) and crystalline with delayed echoes. I decided to try to do the audio myself, so I used my guitar and garage band with some pedal and amp sims that gave me the sound I wanted and then tried to play along with the video I had made. This was my first time trying to score live, and I did multiple takes until I felt it was right. Afterwards, I mixed two of the takes together until it sounded the way I imagined it. I really liked this aspect of it, and plan to do more in the future.

Do check out the other Ice Mountain-related videos on Dave’s site by Marie Craven and Swoon. And thanks to Dave for making his work available like this.

Goddess / Gasolina / For Gasoline

 

This is the video I made for “Goddess” by Cwtch, which is Marie Craven and Paul Foster. “Goddess” is a remix of my poem “For Gasoline” that appears in my book Highway Sky. Paul and Marie remixed it into a song along with a few others on their EP Chasing Headlights. So it is, as Marie described it, a remix of a remix or also to paraphrase her words, a conversation between artists on three continents. I like that.

It’s an odd thing for a poem to move like that from the screen during the mad rush of a napowrimo to the printed page, then to a song, a pair of videos one Spanish and one English by Eduardo Yagüe and Javi Zurrón that have been screened at venues around the world and now full circle (for now) with this music video offered back to Marie and Paul.

 

 

I love this. I love being part of this. I love the idea of the words being set free. We all read and listen to and watch other people’s work and walk away with wildly different ideas. I see this everyday in my classroom. We look at a poem and I am always surprised by what various students take away from it. What if everything were free for us to take that next step and not just think about or talk about what it means to us as individuals but to actually make something new and let it grow?

 

 

I am surprised that “For Gasoline” has traveled so far and in such surprising ways. I am so deeply honored and fortunate to have run into so many wonderful artists who have seen something in this little poem worthy of taking it on new trips.

 

 

“For Gasoline” (and all the poems in Highway Sky and on this site) is licensed under a creative commons by-nc-sa license and is therefore available for remix and interpretation. Feel free to join the conversation.

Aurora is the effort (Videopoem)

 

This is a video I made for Emily Dickinson’s “Aurora is the effort.” I stumbled on the Jupiter aurora footage at ESA/Hubble and wanted to do something with it. I had Dickinson on my mind since we share a birthday, and I often find myself turning to her work around this time of year, so I started searching for aurora-related Dickinson poems and liked this one for its simplicity and unusual syntax and wording. The sounds are radio static and me rubbing the strings and hitting the back of a bass guitar with some effects from garage band.

I’ve been wanting to do a Dickinson poem for years and even have a concept for another one that maybe someday will get done. Thanks for watching.

Gasolina/For Gasoline

Here are two takes on my poem “For Gasoline” from my collection Highway Sky and made available for creative remix at the (now defunct) Poetry Storehouse.

In the first, Eduardo Yagüe translated the poem into Spanish and then made the video from the translation. The second is an English-language version (using the audio I’d provided to the Poetry Storehouse) that includes the text of Eduardo’s translation and was made by Javi Zurrón.

It’s a wonderful thing to see how other artists reinterpret one’s work in new and surprising ways. Thank you Eduardo for making this happen!

 

 

Update: 12.9.16: These videos are featured at Moving Poems today. Thank you, Dave.

Highway Sky: Creative Commons, Remix & Resources

 

That’s the video I made for “God Bless Johnny Cash” which is now part of Highway Sky. It’s the first video poem I ever made, and while it’s a bit rough, I still kind of dig it. Along with “Chasing Westward,” I’ve made two videos for the Highway Sky poems, but what really excites me is the idea of creative remix, which is why the poems in Highway Sky are all licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike-NonCommercial license.

I was inspired by the example of The Poetry Storehouse and its radical sharing/remix culture based on the same Creative Commons license used for Highway Sky. I participated in The Poetry Storehouse as a poet, reader, and remixer and found the whole experience to be so wonderful that I wanted to release Highway Sky under the same terms and see what, if anything might come of it. (Incidentally,  “For Gasoline” and “angels” are available for remix there along with a few of my other poems).

So, for anyone interested in remixing anything in Highway Sky, I offer the following resources:

Text

Free PDF version of Highway Sky (please note, the cover photo is copyrighted by the photographer and the Creative Commons License does not apply to it). Please contact me if you would like a free pdf copy for review or creative remix.

Additionally, early drafts of many of the poems can be found here under the tag highway sky draft poems

Audio

These are all of me reading some of the poems:

“For Gasoline” (text available at The Poetry Storehouse)

download

“Angels” (text available at feathers & The Poetry Storehouse)

download

“Night at the Interstate Diner” (text available at qarrtsiluni)

download

U.S. Highways

download

Chasing Westward

download

 

Of course, please abide by the terms of the license, and if you want to make a hit song, broadway musical, or some other commercial product out of any of my poems, you’ll need to get in touch with me. But we’ll be able to work something out.

And, while we’re at it, here’s the video I made for “Chasing Westward” which is also included in my short collection Birds Nobody Loves.

“Chasing Westward”

 

Two Videopoems and Two Poems Published

I’ve been remiss in updating this here blog, so, here’s some cool stuff…

Below (videopoem)

This is a video Marie Craven made for my poem “Below” found at The Poetry Storehouse. Needless to say, I was blown away by this and am very grateful for the time and effort she put into remixing my poem.

This is the second of my poems to be remixed into video lately (the first was a remix by NS of “A Necklace for the Goddess of the Empty Sea”) and the experience is fascinating. I don’t always feel like I know where my poems come from and sometimes I’m surprised to see what I’m thinking. It’s interesting, then, to find out what another artist sees in my work.

I’m filled enough with gratitude when someone takes the time to read what I’ve written, but it’s a humbling thing to know that someone has taken the time with it not just to read it but to try to know it and then bring it to life in a whole new way. So, thank you Marie for “Below” and also to NS for “Empty Sea” and for creating the soon-to-be-phased-out Poetry Storehouse. These are truly gifts that left me speechless.

Marie wrote up some process notes about the video on her blog, along with notes for two other videos she’s recently done. Three of Marie’s videos have appeared at Gnarled Oak, and you can see even more on her Vimeo page. Or explore her website, pixieguts.com, where you can check out her musical work too.

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flower (videohaiku)

A few weeks ago, Dave Bonta put out a call for haiku based on a video clip with which he intended to experiment in an effort to develop a new approach to videohaiku. He wound up using lines that I supplied and we worked on editing and revising them to come up with the above video.

Dave wrote extensive process notes at Moving Poems, and I don’t have much to add other than that the collaboration was fun and produced an interesting result. Here’s Dave:

This collaboratively produced videopoem with text by James Brush represents a new approach to videohaiku for me: one in which the first part of the haiku is represented by film footage, which freezes and transitions to text roughly where a mid-poem kireji or cutting word would occur in a Japanese haiku.

[…]

James had started with a rather high-concept idea and pared it down in the course of three drafts. I suggested two further edits. What finally emerged was this:


how your hands burn
for the sun

with the ellipsis standing in for the footage of the baby in a meadow waving a daisy around. (One could even make it fit into a line: babe with a flower, say, or toddler in the yard.)

As I mentioned above, it’s a kick to have one’s words envideoed, and I’m grateful to Dave for taking the time to play with a few of mine. I’ll have to try this technique for myself sometime.

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Two Poems Published

As mentioned yesterday, my poem “Sorrow” is in Right Hand Pointing Issue 82: an absence at the center. This is the second time I’ve had a poem appear at RHP and it is quite an honor to be there.

And finally, my poem “Trigger” was included in the anthology/prompt book/workbook Poem Your Heart Out (Words Dance Publishing anthology, Dec 2014). “Trigger” was the winner for April 29 in the Poetic Asides Poem-a-Day Challenge back in April. The book contains the 30 winning poems for the month. My Poems “Sticky Note” (April 3) and  “The Summer Forecast” (Apr 18) were finalists on their respective days.

Ok. Enough about me… go read Gnarled Oak.

A Necklace for the Goddess of the Empty Sea (Video Remix)

This is a video remix of my poem “A Necklace for the Goddess of the Empty Sea” made by NS. The poem can be found at The Poetry Storehouse, NS’s site that collects “great contemporary poems for creative remix” including a few of my own.

This is the first video made from one of my poems, and I was quite thrilled to see it. How fascinating and wonderful a thing to release one’s work and then have it come back like this. Truly, it made my day.

For those who may be interested, the poem was first “officially” published in August 2010 at Poets for Living Waters (along with two others) and was written in response to a prompt at the now-defunct Big Tent Poetry. Here are the process notes I wrote at the time:

This is for Big Tent Poetry’s weekly prompt. The form is called pantoum, and this is my first crack at one. I liked the repetitive spiraling nature of the form, which seemed an interesting fit for another of my post-apocalypse myths and legends poems (for want of a better term), though, I suspect pantoums are best kept short. The idea was to write in form about something that makes us angry so there’s some BP oil spill in this as well as a little bit of influence spilling over from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Stephen King’s The Gunslinger. Using form to tame emotion is a good idea, I think. I’ve tried to write about the BP spill, but its hard to maintain control. Form helps. So does 3rd person narrative and walking so far down the chain of effects that I’m in a different world by the time I begin to write.

Thanks again to NS for creating The Poetry Storehouse and for taking the time and care to create this beautiful video.

“A Ghazal On Birth Of The Buddha” Videopoem

This is a video I made based on Uma Gowrishankar’s “A Ghazal On Birth Of The Buddha: Bardo 3” from The Poetry Storehouse.

I had recorded a reading of the poem the previous week (along with a few others) with no intention of making videos because I didn’t have any time or ideas. But then while searching for some footage on Videvo for something else entirely, I came upon that clip that imagines an approach to the Milky Way. I’m an astronomy nerd and ever since traveling with Carl on the Ship of the Imagination, I’ve always liked this sort of thing.

I watched the clip a few times and started thinking about the poem, about the soul approaching the womb and how the stars in that footage move so fast that (I would think) the clip could encompass millions of years and so the whole thing started to seem like something that was completely outside of time and space. That reminded me of a line from the finale of Lost (which I’m re-watching): “There is no now here” which made me think of souls outside the body and outside time and space which led me back to Gowrishankar’s poem.

I had the reading and the footage so I put them together, but thought I needed something less spacey and metaphorical, which is why I added the audio of the fetal heartbeat. It seemed to ground the thing and make it more earthly, which is one thing I really like about the original poem.

It’s funny to me how things like this just kind of happen, and maybe this is the main thing I have to say about my creative process: I don’t always intend to write a poem or make a video, but then one thing leads to another: experience, image, something I read, something someone says and then the next thing I know there’s a poem or a video or something waiting to be written or made. I guess it all comes down to being open and willing. And then, as Stephen King says, showing up at the keyboard.

11.07.13 (videopoem)

autumn dragonfly
carried backwards on the wind
the pool is closed

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I went for a walk at lunch today. That’s where I often gather my small stones. I found this one and, inspired by Angie Werren’s fine haiku videos, I made a video of it. I loved the simplicity of making this.

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