Artist Dan Albright’s Statement:  “There Is No Word” is a videopoetry adaptation of Tony Hoagland’s poem of the same name, featured in the July/August 2012 issue of Poetry Magazine. The poem itself looks at how language is at times incapable of describing certain situations, such as a close friendship between two men fading to a mere acquaintanceship. In our film, we used Hoagland’s metaphor of a single plastic bag stretching under the weight of a milk jug to help describe that subtle, impossible-to-describe experience. Jordan Meltzer and I created this video for Emerson College’s 2013 Evelyn Horowitz Video Poetry Competition, which the Visual & Media Arts and Writing, Literature, and Publishing departments have been sponsoring for several years now. The competition was open to all current students who made a video based on work by an actively publishing poet. Although we didn’t win the competition, we were noticed by Hoagland, who gave us the rights to reproduce and distribute the poem, and since then we’ve been featured on The Fluid RavenMoving Poems, and most recently The Poetry Foundation.

Tony Hoagland: “[Its] sense of image is beautiful and intuitive, and there’s a sweet rawness to the story telling which seems brave to me; especially when talking about male friendship.


“There Is No Word”
by Tony Hoagland

Tony Hoagland – There Is No Word [Official Video] from Dan Albright on Vimeo.

There isn’t a word for walking out of the grocery store
with a gallon jug of milk in a plastic sack
that should have been bagged in double layers

—so that before you are even out the door
you feel the weight of the jug dragging
the bag down, stretching the thin

plastic handles longer and longer
and you know it’s only a matter of time until
bottom suddenly splits.

There is no single, unimpeachable word
for that vague sensation of something
moving away from you

as it exceeds its elastic capacity
—which is too bad, because that is the word
I would like to use to describe standing on the street

chatting with an old friend
as the awareness grows in me that he is
no longer a friend, but only an acquaintance,

a person with whom I never made the effort—
until this moment, when as we say goodbye
I think we share a feeling of relief,

a recognition that we have reached
the end of a pretense,
though to tell the truth

what I already am thinking about
is my gratitude for language—
how it will stretch just so much and no farther;

how there are some holes it will not cover up;
how it will move, if not inside, then
around the circumference of almost anything—

how, over the years, it has given me
back all the hours and days, all the
plodding love and faith, all the

misunderstandings and secrets
I have willingly poured into it.

About The Author

Dan Albright and Jordan Meltzer

Dan Albright is a sophomore directing for film & television major and Jordan Meltzer is a senior sound design major, both at Emerson College. “There Is No Word” is their second collaboration. The first, “The Wanderer and His Shadow,” a short psychodrama about a man haunted by a mysterious woman from his past, recently won an Evvy for outstanding sound design for screen.