‘let me tell you about yourself’ – vpoem #2

Continuing the flavor of my moment, here’s my second attempt at a videopoem. Sadly, I’ve discovered what those of you doing this regularly already know – that finding footage you a) are allowed to use and b) want to use is no mean feat, particularly if you are not yourself handy with a videocamera. This fact alone will probably seriously cramp my future as a videopoemographer. But ok.

The footage for this piece is courtesy of the wonderful artists at the Hubble website. In their video gallery they have numerous segments labeled ‘artist’s impressions’ of various space phenomena. Some of these are truly breathtaking (even if one doesn’t have a clue what they mean scientifically).

So I greedily downloaded a bunch and was getting ready to try and find a poem to frame the footage, when I realized that the footage had already begun writing a screenplay for itself in my head. This is the end result (kinda obvious for a space theme, but hey): one of those catch-all poems with a smart-ass title addressed to god/muse/lover, or all of the above. (Now I think about it, sort of a PS to Dark and Like A Web, which had a bunch of that kind of poem in it.)


— writing a poem for a ‘performance’ such as this is not the same as writing a poem for the page. I don’t have much patience for snobbish ‘page’ poets who look down on ‘stage’ poets, but – honestly? I like this poem as words and film and music all together, but you’ll notice I’m not linking to the text separately, anywhere.

— it’s total fun writing. First you have all these different film segments that you have to arrange so they tell some kind of story, whether narrative or emotional or pictorial or whatever. Then you have to decide what poetic ‘point’ you would like to make for each segment. Then you have to write your poem so you can make that point in the same length of time as that of the good footage you want to use. Some segments may be only 10 seconds long, others 25, etc etc. Silences are good helpers here (I’m a big fan in general of space & silence while reading), but you can’t go over the top with them either.

— which is more fun: writing for footage or finding someone else’s poem for footage? Neither! Both! I’d go for either.

Published by

Nic Sebastian

Nic is the author of Forever Will End On Thursday and Dark And Like A Web. She founded the now-archived Whale Sound site and is co-founder of The Poetry Storehouse. Nic blogs at Very Like A Whale and Voice Alpha.

19 thoughts on “‘let me tell you about yourself’ – vpoem #2”

  1. Nice work! The ekphrastic approach to videopoetry is definitely my favorite, too. On first viewing, I’d say the line “I, your faithful remora” had the most impact.

    Your notes are very interesting too, and I hope help convince other writers that it isn’t so hard. I guess you’re still using Audacity for the audio. What software are you using for the video?

    Kicking around ideas for another videopoem myself — I know exactly the sort of footage I need, but not where or whether I can find it. Because after a while, my own footage of bugs and critters feels like it needs to be augmented with clips of, you know, humans and stuff.

  2. Thanks, Dave! It’s finding the free-to-use footage that’s the killer – so disheartening! I’ve been looking at computer animation as a possible ‘replacement’, but not liking what I’ve find so far. i use Windows Movie Maker that came with my computer for the video. Nice and easy to handle.

    1. Well, of course that’s one reason to write in response to footage, rather than attempting to find or make it. Takes a fraction of the time, and keeps the emphasis on the poeming — which may be misplaced.

  3. Yeah, I think I’m going to imitate Marc’s strategy (as explained in his itnereview with Sherry O’Keefe) — I started a folder of cool footage that I can refer to whenever I’ve thinking of envideoing a particular poem. But what I’ve often done is find footage I want to use, then look for poems to fit if the writing muse doesn’t strike. That’s why I’ve done several videos for your poems: not just because I like your work, but because it’s already collected online in easy-to-browse locations, complete with audio.

  4. This is haunting and mysterious, your words so well-paired with the gorgeous imagery (I’ve visited the Hubble site many times). Thank you for also sharing your experience and insights in making the videopoem.

  5. i enjoyed this, nic. one of the reasons i started taking more photos was that i discovered the photos informed my poetry (or at least, sparked it, nutured it.) the desire to discover, explore, search continues whether words or images start the sequence.

    now, what about sound? i know a few poets collecting various sound bytes, but i’ve not explored that yet.

    sherry o’keefe

  6. Glad I landed here. I enjoyed this so much. It’s a wonderful experience you created, the way it came together: the words, the voice, the images. I’m pretty blown away.

  7. Wonderful. I’ve never tried to write for a video. it made me think of Faulkner in Hollywood. (Of course, once he and whoever he was writing with submitted the script, I suppose it went into the director’s hands. Here, you fit the poem to the video to the poem, a process as circular and as endless in its way as your subject here.)

    1. Hi Peter – this was a first for me as well. Ekphrastic poems (which, to tell the truth, I have tried) based on a static work of art have to work with what is set in stone in front of them. When you’re working with film footage, the process is much more of a dynamic give-and-take experience.

  8. What a neat idea, to write the poem using the footage as muse. I know what you mean about finding appropriate footage–and I’m loathe to pay for it. I’ve signed onto a few services that offer one free video clip per week (e.g., Pond 5). As they come in, I download and save them in a folder. Have also bookmarked a handful of sites that offer free clips. Now am going to check out Hubble.

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