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my first video poem: “composition”

June 22, 2009

My first video poem — “Composition” — is here:

Here are some process notes:

In March, I attended the monthly gathering of my expressive arts groups. We went to a studio of working artists and created installation art while documenting our process on video. At the end of the day, we viewed a collage of the video images. Jason, our host and helper for the day, showed us two or three movies at a time on the screen, and what resulted was an interesting (and random) juxtaposition of video captured on different cameras throughout the day.

Jason was kind enough to burn the raw footage from the day onto DVD for me, and in order to create this poem, I selected a dozen or so clips that appealed to me. Later, in my journal, I completed a one-page free-write; a few of the lines from the poem came directly from the free-write.

I never actually wrote the poem down. All of my drafts were verbal, which is new for me. I shuffled the clips around and allowed myself several takes to play with the wording, tone and pacing. But the video always drove the voice-over. The words were not first, seeking images. The images existed and I attempted to give them words.

The resulting poem is different, perhaps, than one drafted on and intended for the page. And I think that’s great. In expressive arts, we focus less on product and more on process, and I really enjoyed the exercise of allowing these images to talk to me. It’s an important practice.

P.S. I appear twice in the video: First, as the shadow, and second, as the girl in the puffy winter vest leaving the studio. In a perfect world, I would play a little bit more with the pacing in the beginning of this (I think it’s a little slow), and I would play some with the tone in the end. Certainly, I would re-record the final voice-over since you can hear my dog snoring in the background. *Sigh* — but it’s only quiet here in the middle of the night and I have no plans on staying up tonight to wait for it.

Thank you, Dave, for showing me the super-secret handshake that allows me to embed Vimeo!

  1. June 23, 2009 9:03 am

    Great work, Carolee! You really got inside the images to create an integral poem, not an easy feat. Snd the clips you chose are very interesting.

    As a side note, does your video software have an option to extract audio? I though the dog whimpering in the background sort of went with the theme of the poem, being born and the life cycle, but in the future you can do that, and then lay down your voice.

    I hope you make more of them. Video and poetry go hand in hand, and your a natural with your visual art experience.

  2. June 23, 2009 9:38 am

    thanks, christine.

    and about the dog snore: she’s not snoring in the clip itself (i’ve muted most of the clips). she’s snoring while i recorded my voice over in the final segment.

    the fix is as simple as recording it again when she’s not snoring, but since it felt like a working draft, i just sent it off into the world. 🙂

    i am in love with the process and think it can be a tool to help the poet notice more as life flashes by. (wonder to herself more, ooh, let me get my camera and capture that and write about it. it has possibilities!)

    an interesting question to talk about would be has all our media consumption been “training” for making video poems, for seeing poems in video? many of us (like me) experience a lot of the world on screen.

  3. June 23, 2009 10:56 am

    Wow. I watched, listened before I read your process notes. I am amazed by the idea of no written drafts and think that is a brilliant way to multiply the acuteness of the process. Holy-moly wow.

    Great work.

    Someday I may try my own, but … sweetness & light, I may just leave it for the talented!

  4. June 26, 2009 9:58 pm

    deb — try your own. it’s too much fun to save for the talented. i’ve seen them in action before: they don’t know what to do with real fun when it lands in their laps!

  5. June 27, 2009 4:58 pm

    Oh, wow. I love the sensuality and the poem itself (esp. the line “not everyone will believe your story”). Your voice works so nicely for this as well. I really ought to do one.

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