Saturday, December 10, 2011

Using video to promote poetry

Once upon a time poetry was seen as an elitist occupation.  The more obscure and inaccessible the better.  Well to be honest I'm not sure it was ever like that, but certainly that perception is still bandied about among those (perhaps in some publishing quarters and certainly among those with little exposure) who would have poets marginalised as the unprofitable, effete cousin of prose.  Multimedia puts paid to that, bringing in the very visual, modern reader as participant.  For poets, the process of writing is all about meaning and connection, and so whatever works to create that moment of awakening; the shiver of recognition in a reader (or viewer), is good.  Using multimedia is a perfect way to promote poetry as I feel very lucky as a poet to find myself in a world where there are so many different ways to transform each poem to awaken something different in a reader.  These little videos can be made quite easily by culling freely licensed public domain  images that seem to pick up the meaning in each stanza, and with some voice work, good music, and a neat video program or webcam, there's really no limit to what you can do.

There are a few free software packages that can help you achieve different effects and for poets with a visual flair, it's quite fun (if a little time consuming) to play around with tools like Prezi, Movie Maker, 64studio, and Animoto which I used to make the following video, from a poem taken from the collection Deeper Into the Pond by Carolyn Howard-Johnson and me.  The music came from Moby and their amazing gratis artists resource site.  You have to request it and tell them what you're doing but they're really generous and in the end you get something totally unique that functions as a completely new piece of art. It's something I feel that most poets should consider to take their work out to a broader audience, and also, and maybe mainly, because it's a lot of fun to do.  Text of the poem follows the video.

Only a Dress

Down beneath the dirty cobwebs
wet and torn
neglect and weathering
damaging the social fabric
your pretty silk dress
into landfill.

Yes there are racks full
in the shiny mall of your dreams
or is that nightmares
corridors and white teeth
loom against your loss.

It was only a dress
sheer floral organza floating
above real satin
forties style
neatly fitted against your narrow hips
flowing with possibilities
now shrunk into mere threads
shot through with stains
amidst other detritus
carrying, like silver sequins
a weight of desire
shrugged off.

You could just buy
re-align yourself
on the hampster wheel
run run run
the route you’ve travelled
detached, near complete
or you could sit, breath in the fresh salty air
and let the dress go.

About the author: Magdalena Ball is the author of Sleep Before Evening, Repulsion Thrust, Quark Soup, and a number of collaborations and anthologies. Find out more about Magdalena and grab a free copy of her book The Literary Lunch at


Nancy Famolari said...

Love your video. It is a work of art. I can see how video brings new life to poetry. I enjoyed the poem the first time I read it, but this adds a whole new dimension.

Vici Howard said...

This is very well done. I'm not a big poetry person but when its put together with the mixed-media technique; it works.

~*~ saskia ~*~ said...

Have a most lovely time gearing up for Christmas! x

Karen Cioffi said...

Nicely done, Maggie. Using mixed-media works very well. And, thanks for the links.

Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

That was very powerful. I love your poem on its own, but the combination with the video is amazing. Thanks

Donna McDine said...

Nicely done! Keep up the great work!

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