In·ter·punct shares book reviews, art news, lit theory and daily musings from the intimate lives of writers. It seeks to highlight, in an edgy and sprightly fashion, the poetic moments that punctuate our lives.
Even the definition of spoken word poetry is beautiful and interesting; “it is as oral art that focuses on the aesthetics of word play and intonation and voice inflection”. This particular form of art is one of the oldest there is and if you have seen it in person, you know the passion and intensity that it carries. Spoken word used to be found in the small hidden places of the city but it is now accessible to many, rather to any with Internet access.
As media sites (such as YouTube and Vimeo) grow, so grows the audience, as well as the amount of poets reciting their words creating more voices that can be heard. I originally wondered if there could be any negative ramifications with such a deal. Is this change a bad one, or is it simply a change?
Before going in depth with the change, let's first dive into the similarities. For their core is identical; humans speaking on humanity and their unique perspective on the universe. In all realms, the person the page and the pixels, no topic seemed to be too much. After many nights spent at the Nuyorican Poets Café I believe I have heard it all (Okay, that’s not entirely true and thankfully so or else my conquest in the world of art would be over, and I’d end up forcing myself to take up an embarrassing hobby like making macaroni necklaces). I was screamed at, sung to, softly spoken to, and enchanted by the beautiful insights and grimy secrets given to me by complete strangers.
Out of the media sharing sites, Vimeo holds the most magic when it comes to poetry and spoken word pieces. Mixing the worlds of poetry and imagery and doing it beautifully. Poetry and film makes for a truly beautiful marriage, as so much possibility lies in it. For centuries poetry has been the chosen language of many and as its words falls onto the audience images take form in their head. Now, artists decide to display these images in their own way and use them as a vital part in their vehicle of expression. This turns a happy stanza into bird of flight. It wraps a hopeless word with a dark forest. A small whisper of desperation is the sky peaking between the lines of tall treetops. Suddenly, you don’t just hear the poem, even more then feel it, and it seeps into your consciousness and plants itself there. Strong images burnt into the back of your eyes for your brain to see.
There is another distinct difference between live performance and a short film that cannot be overlooked. Community. And what makes up a strong community other than people, an audience, big or small but always intent? Hanging on the poets every word, the audience offers themselves to be fed upon and used; as a mirror, as a punching bag, whatever their performer needs. While this experience is such a unique one there is something incredibly intimate about watching a spoken word short film on your screen. In this instance, the audience is free to react in whichever way they need without being seen. The creator also feels more freedom in being anonymous and spared from face-to-face judgment (a very cutting kind).
While putting their most vulnerable thoughts out into the world, some find it safer to do so by piecing together their words alone in an environment of their own. For those who film their own videos, the camera becomes an extension of their thoughts. The same goes for animators; the pen and the lens both carry the special power it takes to explain any given emotion. In the spoken word film “APE” posted on Vimeo by Julie Zammarchi, the animation is used in a surrealist and slightly abstract fashion to fit the strangeness of the poem thereby making it easier to understand and less jarring than it would have been alone. In contrast, Henri Gander’s spoken word film “Alone” features clips of city streets looking as cold and isolated as his words describe him.
Not only is there a beautiful process that goes into the making of a spoken word film, but media hosting sites also have a community of real people that give and take from each other, that offer feedback and criticism and are there to listen at whatever time of day they choose. They start important discussions and contribute just as much as the poets at your local bookstore doing a reading.
“For those who film their own videos, the camera becomes an extension of their thoughts. The same goes for animators; the pen and the lens both carry the special power it takes to explain any given emotion.”
Therefore, maybe change isn’t inherently bad, it’s just different. And in the world of art, different is not something to shy away from.
In·ter·punct shares interviews, expositions, poems and daily musings from the intimate lives of writers. Like the interpunct, which is a middot used to separate syllables, this blog seeks to highlight, in an edgy and sprightly fashion, the poetic moments that punctuate our lives.