FRIDAY VIDPOFILM: 'Myra Walks' by P E Sharpe

Myra Walks from P. E. Sharpe on Vimeo.

How do you approach "situations which require a significant amount of critical distance"?1

Is this moving away from what you are close to in order to understand it? 'To approach' with 'critical distance' seems awkward as an emotional strategy, let alone as a methodology. An artwork arising out of a paradoxical I-approach (in the first person) /I-am-an-onlooker (in the third person) will surely be fraught with tensions, fissures, cracking points that threaten or overwhelm.

Who is Myra, and why does she walk?

The thumbnail shows a split screen with two blurry landscape images. Let us enter: hit Play.

As I watched, I wrote: "[the video is] certainly playing with the horizon line, not only the artificially created vertical one in the middle of the screen that splits the two clips, but the way the horizons in the landscapes in the split screen seem to attempt to meet, again and again, within the pace of the rhythm of the footsteps of the videographer. The sonic scape is ominous, and the sounds of children playing, absent from the screen, again, ominous. I did just see a figure momentarily, a man, perhaps a child with him. In the meditation, we, the audience are being taken to a point in the landscape, we travel a path to a moment of consciousness. Finally, at the end, clarity in the clip on one side, and a psychedelic strobe on the other, and sonically, we have arrived at the ocean, where we read the final inscription, and realize we have been traveling in a memorial, and feel the splitting inside us, the immediacy of the tragedy, our sadness."

Because what I wrote was in a thread in her post of the video on G+, P.E. Sharpe responded: "It's also playing with the testimonies of Myra Hindley, who said she waited by the car in the layby on the other side of the road and yet at some point she decided to draw a map of the sites in question. I traced her steps and I stopped at the bridge over a drainage ditch that she refused to cross, unwilling to elaborate further. I tried as best I could to grasp her sense of what she had actually done, the potential for a range of human response within her, very much trying to assimilate her character. The soundscape is layered with both ambient (present when I shot the video) and recorded sound from a variety of sources. I think I may have had as many as 9 tracks when all was said and done."

Wikipedia tells us: "The Moors murders were carried out by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley between July 1963 and October 1965, in and around what is now Greater Manchester, England. The victims were five children aged between 10 and 17—Pauline Reade, John Kilbride, Keith Bennett, Lesley Ann Downey and Edward Evans—at least four of whom were sexually assaulted. The murders are so named because two of the victims were discovered in graves dug on Saddleworth Moor, with a third grave also being discovered there in 1987, over 20 years after Brady and Hindley's trial in 1966." We learn that, "Hindley made the first of two visits to assist the police search of Saddleworth Moor on 16 December 1986[;]....and her second visit to the moor in March 1987." It is these latter walks to find the graves of the children that forms the reason for the walk of the videographer along the same route in Myra Walks.

Why would I consider a video without an actual poem a videopoem in VidPoFilm?

Poetry at VidPoFilm, among many approaches, is that a video can be a 'visual poem' that does not require words on screen or by voiceover. Myra Walks relies on a historical narrative to explain its raison d'être, and why the footage has been edited to portray emotional schism, a comprehension of a collective memory that is fraught with contradiction, horror, tragedy in a landscape that takes on these qualities in the handheld clip of the videographer walking, in the editing with its split screen and blurs, and ominous soundtrack.

Historical poems rely on the historical narrative they are referring to in the poems that are written in context of both the recorded story and the present-day situation of the poet. Myra Walks is a visual poem that P. Elaine has created as a kind of splintered mirror of a specific geographical location where the modern traveller is in juxtaposition to crimes committed many decades before. She explores the strange relationship we have with visiting sites where murder occurred, and the way these memories, that aren't our own, but are 'ours' in a social sense, in a cultural context, impact us. She wordlessly carries the memory of these crimes, and their locale, to us through her visual poem, her video.

How do you approach "situations which require a significant amount of critical distance"? Her videopoem answers itself: through a witnessing that requires emotional connection.


Draft of an article for 'Theoretical Mondays'

A draft for an upcoming article at VidPoFilm - Mondays are Video/Filmpoetry theory.

When a filmmaker approaches a poem or the work of a poet, how does he or she interpret the verbal images visually?

I raise this question because I think a literarian (poet trained in literature) who videos/films a poem will approach it differently to a filmmaker (lover of poetry trained in film).

A poet might envision the video/filmpoem as a writer creating a videopoem for an unknown audience - from the centre outwards, or from the words to an audio visual corollary; whereas, a filmmaker, familiar with traditional filmmaking techniques and a better grasp of audience, might approach from that position to the centre - the poem itself.

Let me illustrate with a found image on which I have mapped this process (click on image for a larger view):

In my viewing and making of video/filmpoems over the past few years, I have noted differences between poets with no or little film training who make video/filmpoems and filmmakers who approach a poem with considerable experience and background in the art of filmmaking.

Yet, despite the filmmaker seeming to have the advantage of knowledge and experience and a network of contacts in the film world, all video/filmpoems, by neophytes or professionals, seem to struggle to find a large audience. Video/filmpoetry is a fairly new genre and while there are many different styles one thing common almost across the board is the minuscule audience in comparison to, say, music videos or even trailers for full-length films.

When I see the viewcounts on the filmpoems we are looking at this week, I am saddened. John Scott is a strong filmmaker who has crafted superb filmpoems, and yet the view counts are in the hundreds rather than in the tens or hundreds of thousands as these films deserve.

Personally I think it is a matter of training the public to see and understand the art form of the video/filmpoem. Difficulties viewers have with video/filmpoems is an area of focus in VidPoFilm. John himself says, "I'm interested in expanding the audience for "poetry" to people who might not normally consider poems interesting because they seem old fashioned, dry and/or intellectual."

If we go by the general view counts on YouTube or Vimeo, likely an 'expanded audience' will occur only if the video/filmpoems are aired on national television and shown and analyzed in classrooms around the world. Perhaps John Scott is in a position to enable this to happen with his Elizabeth Bishop series.

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VidPoFilm 'About' Page

An About page at VidPoFilm  - hastily thrown together yesterday, still a mesh of About and Submission Guidelines which will find their own pages in the coming months. The About page, as it is now, will give you a better idea of what this nascent e-Journal is.

Yesterday I received my first enquiry about the possibility of doing an article on a video/filmpoem, which I am doing, and you'll see it Friday.

If I did not wish to profile it in an article, it could have gone into my last-Sunday-of-the-month Group Show, a smorgasbord of video/film poem offerings that you send in and which I do not curate or edit (except to make sure they are video/filmpoems). The first one is coming on the 27th of November, if you are a video/film poet, send one url (I'll grab the embed code from the url) to vidpofilm{at}

VidPoFilm's About page:

VidPoFilm explores the poetics of video and film poetry and offers critiques of works in this genre. To enquire about submissions, email VidPoFilm [at]

Process Notes on VidPoFilm:

It will be another month or two before I have a proper description of VidPoFilm and requirements for submissions for articles.

My plans for postings:

  • Mondays for articles on 'video/filmpoetry theory.'
  • Wednesdays for 'video/film poets writing on video/filmpoems'; this can include interviews.
  • Fridays I will continue to post my articles on video/filmpoems.
  • The last Sunday in each month can be a 'group show' of video/filmpoems submitted by artists.
  • Articles on specific video/film poets or video/filmpoems of course can be published on any of the remaining days during the week.
  • (Note: If there are no video/film poetry theory submissions, or I haven't found anything to post, for instance, there will be no post on Monday. Also, I can tag posts so they will appear in a specific "Page" -like this one- that has its own RSS feed and keep the posts organized this way.)

I am currently grappling with how to explain poetics, and need to work on this before I can properly open to submissions.

Briefly, poetics, in the way VidPoFilm uses it, describes mechanics in some way or other. Video or film techniques, visual and verbal images and how they interplay, describing a scene to articulate its flow in the overall theme, etc. How you come to see what you see and hear in the film/video.

Any and all articles have to explore the poetics of a video or film poem. If they're theory, not just definitions, but also praxis, the how, examples of this in video/film poems.

A poetic essay, like the ones I've been producing on Fridays, is fine. You'll note, though, there is always some exploration of how the video/film poem was constructed -often in a description of film technique. Even noting how the images are cut to the beat of the music is talking about technique - to write about beat synch gives readers an awareness of that alignment. Describing the images as the writer of the article sees them enriches the viewing of the video/filmpoem, and offers another entryway into understanding the video/film.

Also, I am considering a Group Show once a month. I invite artists to send in one video/filmpoem they have made. On the last Sunday of each month I will post all the videos in one long post that is unedited (other than ensuring submissions are video/filmpoems) and un-curated. A video/film poet can send a piece in every month for the Sunday Group Show.

If someone would like to work on an article for VidPoFilm (and their own site), or already has one, they should contact me through vidpofilm{at}


VidPoFilm is curated and edited by Brenda Clews, who blogs at Rubies in Crystal.

Visit my group on Vimeo: If you are a video or film poet, please join and add your work.

Video and film poetry sites to check out: Billy Collins Action Poetry, Blue's Cruzio Cafe, Born Magazine, Camera Poetica, Comma Film, FilmPoem, Motionpoems, Moving Poems, Rabbit Light Movies, Rattapallax, Synesthesia, The Continental Review, UbuWeb: film and video, Viral Verse.

VidPoFilm: the Poetics of Video and Film Poetry *is live*!

I am ready to announce the birth of a new on-line journal:  VidPoFilm.

VidPoFilm explores the poetics of video and film poetry and offers critiques of works in this genre.

VidPoFilm: videopoetry and poetryfilm - poetry the key that slides either way.

I am both curating and editing the material at VidPoFilm. So far, I'm posting my Video and Film Poem Fridays articles.

VidPoFilm is open to submissions - only articles on other video and film poems, this is not a self-promotion site for me or any other video or film poets - but I won't have a description of my requirements ready for another month or two. Articles can be pre- or co-published in your own blogs, this is preferable in fact. My only rule, so far, is one article per year per video or film poet. Brilliant work is being produced world-wide in this field and I do not foresee running out of material..

Subscribe by RSS feed to the site. Blogger offers a state-of-the-art blog that enables you to watch the videos in your Readers. VidPoFilm is about disseminating video and film poems far and wide while offering a way to 'read' them. The stats on the videos and films discussed is more important than the stats on the journal site, so please watch the films -they are 'top notch'! These flicks are the crème de la crème.

[Below I have embedded an iFrame gadget that not only shows you the website, but is a fully functioning website within a website (you can only see this if you are at the blog itself, unfortunately). Read, watch, explore, comment.]


Home  Green Fire  Different, yet Same  Soirée of Poetry  Videopoetry  Celestial Dancers  Photopoems  Birthdance  Bliss Queen  Bio  Life Drawings  Earth Rising  Creative Process  Multiplicities  Links  Comments
Comments (6)
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