Poetry, Not Just a Book
Poetry is not just a book anymore. Beyond online journals, poems happily interact with film and video, music, dance, and, well, we’re here today to celebrate all the ways we can see and hear a poem!
Poetry’s affairs with other mediums are many. New York School poet Ron Padgett worked with George Schneeman and Joe Brainard to create funny and deep transgenre pieces. Poet and activist Linh Dinh runs an ecstatically experimental YouTube channel that we like to spend hours in. Moving Poems features a steady stream of the best poetry videos on the web, as does The Volta and its ancestor, rabbit light movies. Anne Carson’s poems get danced, Robert Montgomery’s situationist poems invade London, and journals and mags such as Poetry International, Rain Taxi, Sixth Finch, Housefire, and Room Eleven all tighten poetry’s tie with the visual arts.
Octopus Books editors also visualize vigorously—a “live cinematic shadow puppet show” called Fjords, based on Zach Schomburg’s poems, premieres in Chicago today, while Elisabeth Reinkordt presents a poem-film based on Mathias Svalina’s “Creation Myths” poems. Rachel Eliza Griffiths riffs on Frida Kahlo with her “Two Elizas,” and poet Metta Sáma collaborates with artist Mihret Dawit to bring you in Nocturne Trio an explosion of color and word.
Digitally speaking, the crazy amazing Wasteland App makes soft to the touch T.S. Eliot’s touchstone poem in original and edited versions, complete with footnotes and readings by Fiona Shaw, Alec Guinness, Ted Hughes, and Viggo Mortensen (who himself is a poet and publisher of Perceval Press, didn’t you know?)
Wider, the great Chinese Poet Huang Xiang and American artist William Rock create a “visual dialogue across humanity.” George Quasha’s poetrymusicart travels the globe. Martha Deed and Millie Niss amassed a great collection of digital art/poems and installations.
In sound, David Morneau scores Shakespeare’s sonnets and contemporary poems in his project “Love Songs”; Natalie Merchant sings Edward Lear, Ogden Nash, and Robert Graves; and the band Ill Lit takes their name and inspiration from Franz Wright. We won’t even try to go into the poetry kingdom that is hip hop—or the vast sonics of PennSound, Naropa, San Francisco State University Poetry Center’s and University of Arizona Poetry Center’s audio and video archives, the podcasts of Apostrophe Cast …
Are you floored yet? Do your eyes and ears joyfully smart? Then you know that the poem abides in all the senses. We’ll leave you with one delightful cherry on top: Nate Slawson’s digital chapbook A Mix Tape Called Zooey Deschanel, a visual and sonic equivalent of a vampire cupcake. We dare you not to smile.