Three Videopoems from Marie Craven

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Today we have three videopoems from filmmaker Marie Craven: “Poem for Rent,” “Everything Sleeps but the Night,” and “First Grade Activist.”

“Poem for Rent”
This video came in to being after I discovered the Pushcart-nominated poetry of Canadian writer, Kim Mannix, at the online literary journal, Gnarled Oak. Following a web trail, I then came upon Kim’s blog where I read “Poem for Rent,” a short and fun piece coupling real estate and meaning. Around the same time, I rediscovered a vocal-electronic music track called “Blink Blink” which I’d been part of several years ago with Adrian Carter. In this track, Adrian cut up my voice into very small, percussive units to produce a fun, inventive sound. I contacted Adrian about incorporating this track in a film with the poem. He was happy for me to do that and went further by digging out the old audio files and creating an updated version of the piece for this project. The images in the film are fairly randomly-sourced stills from Flickr Creative Commons, all of them made available for other artists like me to remix. I edited the stills very quickly to the rhythms of the music, doing some rudimentary animation of them along the way, and interspersed the vision with short snatches of the poem delivered as text-on-screen, like ad lines. I then contacted the poet and she was happy for us to release the video.

“Everything sleeps but the night”
Recently I’ve started going to a local, monthly poetry night, “Alternator Poetry.” It’s held at Currumbin on the Gold Coast, Australia, within driving distance of home. Through our mutual interest in this event, I’ve come to meet poet and musician, Matt Hetherington, and to collaborate. To get the ball rolling on this video, Matt sent me over a selection of audio via email, recordings of a number of poems. I was immediately drawn to the poem, “Everything sleeps but the night,” and Matt’s vocal performance of it. It also came with an ace musical soundscape, composed by Melbourne producer, Miles du Heaume, and Zaziz (Matt himself in another guise). After more initial discussion by email, I set to work on an image track, first sourcing stock footage from the royalty-free site, Videoblocks. I went for night-time shots and interiors, layering different shots together in a way akin to collage. A few of the image components were stills sourced on Creative Commons licenses from Flickr. One key shot was from mskrzyp via the Mazwai Creative Commons video site. I selected the images for associative resonances with the poem. I put them together in editing and added effects, aiming for an abstracted narrative, in sympathy with my perceptions of the poem’s content. After I’d completed a first draft video, I sent it to Matt. He gave helpful feedback and I continued into further drafts of the video, refining the visual metaphors and the way they melted together into a flowing and complete piece. I sent the video back to Matt and, after a few more suggested changes, it was complete.

“First Grade Activist”
I made this video during the time I was actively a part of the community around the (sadly now disappeared) Poetry Storehouse website. This site was a great meeting place for filmmakers and poets. All the poetry published on the site was made available on a Creative Commons remix license, making it a veritable playground for poetically inclined film-makers like myself. “First Grade Activist” was written and voiced by Nic S., the driving force behind the site. I loved the poem, especially its lateral approach to its themes, and loved Nic’s voicing of it (she contributed a huge number of poetry readings to the site, all of them outstanding). I brought these elements together with some footage in the public domain at the Prelinger Archives, and a music piece from a long time music collaborator, Paul Foster (aka Dementio13 and other monikers). The video was made especially for a videopoetry competition at the Poetry Storehouse, which it happily won. It has also since screened at the Sinestesia poetry film event in Barcelona.

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About Author

Marie Craven (Queensland, Australia) assembles short videos from poetry, music, voice, stills and moving images by various artists around the world. Created via the internet, the pieces are collaborative in a way that belongs to the 21st century. Since 2014, Marie has created over 50 videopoems. She also collaborated for several years as a vocalist with electronic musicians globally, also via the internet. During the 1990s and early 2000s she wrote and directed short narrative and experimental films that were screened and awarded widely at international film festivals. Her earliest involvement in media was in the mid-1980s with super 8 film-making in Melbourne. See more of her work at pixieguts.com.

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