'Ravishing Light' performed @ LyricalMyrical Festival last night


direct link:Ravishing Light @ LyricalMyrical Festival.

My second 'clip-on mic' poetry and creative movement live performance, 'Ravishing Light,' @the LyricalMyrical Festival hosted by publisher, Luciano Iacobelli, @Q Space in Toronto. The 3-day festival of LyricalMyrical authors (over 30 featured) is the last event before it closes down in a few days. We all hope Luciano resurrects Q Space at another location at some point in the future. His cafe has been a warm, welcoming, accepting, nurturing and enjoyable space for poetry in Toronto and many of us will miss it greatly. Many thanks to my brother, Allan Clews, and my friend, Jacques Albert, who took video. I edited the clips the morning after.








All photos from the video: two as is; two photoshopped.
___


 brendaclews.com
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Becoming a Performance Poet...



While I have been told I am an expressive reader, and that I am 'really a performance poet,' I think I entered the realm of Performance Poetry more completely than ever before last Thursday night.

A couple of stills from my feature at the fabulous and wicked The Beautiful and The Damned, a monthly poetry event in Toronto, currently at Q Space and hosted this month by Lizzie Violet. A great evening. Many talented, brilliant poets, and singers featured and on open mic. And really, I was totally scared to do this piece, masqued and all, but it went ok, and I didn't even flub the lines! Whew. Shhhh... don't tell anyone, but I had my eyes closed mostly throughout 'A Floral Opera' and so was able to recite my poem without the performance anxiety that usually makes me forget my hard-memorized lines.

Like I had 'ravishing light' memorized, but ran into the audience's eyes, and had to resort to the written version, and also with 'Palmistry, a Psalm,' same thing. At home on my own, I can recite from beginning to end without a hitch. So I guess I have performance anxiety. A friend suggested I wear a half mask for readings so I can keep my eyes closed without the audience knowing! Haha! No, I won't. Rather, I think I need to keep pushing my own envelope, keep trying, and eventually I'll break through to a comfort level where I can recite what I have worked so hard to memorize.



I worked on this one a bit in Photoshop for a potential profile photo (which I used on Facebook).
___

 brendaclews.com
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Brandon Pitts @ Videofag in Toronto


direct link: Brandon Pitts @ Videofag March 2013

I did some of the sort of filming that interests me last night at a poetry reading at Videofag in Toronto. This snippet isn't fully 'worked out' but it's getting there, and I'm okay with posting it.

I'm also learning new video editing software, so creating this video took awhile. Be gentle, folks. Also, I follow my rhythms, my aesthetic, in videoing and editing rather than trying to produce a facsimile for the performers (there were other video cameras running anyhow). So, with the authors' permission, I took ...liberties. Enjoy!

___

 brendaclews.com
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Notes by John Walter on video of 'Ink Ocean' poetry performance



direct link: http://youtu.be/w4Xs2dIt2m4

Honoured, I share notes my dear friend John Walter (poet, playwright, novelist, teacher, intellectual, polymath) wrote while watching me perform Ink Ocean (as recorded in this video clip):

"Where plumes drag through the ocean's gloom" "Salt water on fire!" This poem is a wakeup call if I've ever heard one.  "Burning despair of illusion"--waw. Your response to the black ocean with words is powerful and moves from despair to love, Brenda. Your performance of Ink Ocean is powerful and rhetorically dramatic. It was so great to see you in front of a live audience.
_

You get across the massive destruction, the complete wiping out of the entire environment, with the voice of a jeremiad poet who does not let herself lose herself in woe.
_

I like the image of being 'fishermen of words' , the way you blend the ocean of ink and the blackened ocean, contaminated by the oil spill.
_

"Let cold salt water wash our eyes until we swim in vision." So many great lines in this poem. I felt I was right there, in front of you, watching you perform.
_

Your theatricality is impressive. Your voice is a skillful instrument. You demonstrate your ire and sadness and yet do not succumb to it.
_

I like the way you undulate, 'anchored in the swell." The panoply of images you present is stark, and yet vast.
_

Great finish. So gladdening to see you get such enthusiastic applause.

(Dec 3, 2012)


___

 brendaclews.com
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'Ink Ocean' performed live at HOWL@QSpace



Ink Ocean: http://youtu.be/w4Xs2dIt2m4

On Nov 25, 2012, I performed my prose poem 'Ink Ocean,' on the Gulf Oil Spill, as one of the featured poets at Nik Beat's HOWL@QSpace in Toronto. I had memorized the prose poem. The image of the ink drawing, from which the poem emerged, only appears in the still for the video (I've included an image at the end of this post for you). I'm actually quite happy with the performance itself - passionate, intense, and yet clear enunciation.

Ink Ocean is about the oil spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 when nearly 5 million barrels, or 210 million gallons, of crude oil were spilled into the sea due to an explosion of an off-shore drilling rig. It remains the largest marine spill in the history of the petroleum industry.

Over 5 months, hydro-carbon eating bacteria devoured 200,000 tons of oil and natural gas in the Gulf, and then stopped. Despite the massive cleaning efforts by the oil industry and governments, and the efforts of the bacteria, as of 2012, 40% of the spill remains in the waters.

This prose poem began as writing in an ink drawing. It took 6 - 8 months to finish, and was revised in preparation for this reading.  It is an experimental poem structually. A poem of utterance, of cross-currents and paradoxes. It is composed of many voices, and perspective shifts.

There are two parts. The first is on the oil spill, and the second is about love in a world bordering on oblivion, a world that's half spirit. We are in the 6th Mass Extinction on the earth. This is the backdrop.

The poem starts out in the Gulf and moves with the Gulf Stream to the Atlantic Ocean where it becomes a love poem. Can we love in a world inviting extinction? Yes, of course we can, and must.

---
With thanks to Nik Beat, Q Space and Luciano Iacobelli. It was a great evening.




Ink Ocean, 2010, 13" x 16", India ink on archival paper. My prose poem on the Gulf Oil Spill, Ink Ocean, emerged from this drawing. The poem was revised in 2012.

___

 brendaclews.com
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Dance of Gold Canvas


direct link: Dance of Gold Canvas

A performance piece, hints of the epic, the metamorphosis that life is. Age and grace. Frivolity and art. Pain and laughter. Humor and seriousness.

In the dance I speak a poetry whose volume I dimmed to just below audible. A poetry below the threshold.

And of this nearly silenced subliminal speaking? It's part of the motion poem. A tantra. Dance, the journey of the soul, guttural, the women crying for help during the tsunami, women in war, survival, a Blakean crawl across the canvas at one point and I allowed some words to rise, utterances, Butoh not in style but expression perhaps in parts, and of strength, empowerment, and the fecund, the buds of spring about to burst, Boticelli's Primavera, the rich earthy tapestries of the natural world, and Zen, laughter at the absurdity of life, and love, love everywhere, enjoyment in the body itself, sensuality, a wit, humour. Dancing with shadows of the self was intriguing in the editing, as was slipping between colours of a rich Buddha saffron and the smudging shadows of black and white. Editing itself a psychic process, shaping a moving poem.

How a video comes to be is almost surreal. Magic in the editing. I enter a state where time doesn't matter and think it closest to the dream, the mind's most deeply creative process, where you're exploring something, and you're not quite sure what it means, or where it's going, but are fascinated, compelled.

A dance poem, an enactment, a one-act play. Perhaps in this piece something visionary, in that there is resolution to the conflict, the paradoxes, in the process of art itself, in the dance of the self.

Self-conscious but daring to anyhow, give everything you've got.

The dance of the self within Krishna's cosmic dance, the spinning painting of us on the canvas, the dance we all share.



Performed, videoed and edited by Brenda Clews.

Background music by arnoldsrecords, 'There's a hole, there's a wall.'

-
Without memory, the fragile present disappears.

blog: Rubies in Crystal
art and writings: brendaclews.com
Starfire, an album of poetry performance pieces
(listen, download for free)





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A Promo Player



Hey, cool! A promo player with 4 sample tracks (though it looks like it doesn't travel by RSS feed or email subscription).

From my latest poetry album: Starfire.

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Ink Ocean

  Royalty-free music for professional licensingNo idea how the Jamendo team got this moderated and published on New Year's Eve. That's dedication beyond the call of the tweet, drum, horn & keyboodle! I didn't expect to see it for a few days at least. I certainly hope the whole Jamendo crew has gone out celebrating! ::smiling:: Thanks, guys! :))

Ink Ocean: Brenda Clews, poetry, reading, mix;
music (mixed by me), Alphacore, 'side_project,' from "Side Project": http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/33504, and Extra's, 'The Quickest Vessel to a Distant Future,' from "Water Every Full Moon": http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/45140 (with permissions)


This is my second, and preferred, reading of my poem, Ink Ocean.

The poem began to arise in two drawings, one of which I have included in the album cover, and the writing from the other drawing (which I took a photograph of before covering it in ink and paint).

If you'd like to read the poem, it is included in a 26 page pdf of the text of the poems in a collector's edition of Starfire, where this poem forms the final piece.



click to see a larger image


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Ink Ocean - Mp3, Version 2

  Royalty-free music for professional licensing

direct link: Ink Ocean - version 2

You might not hear all the subtleties in this piece unless you're listening on headphones. But on speakers has a kind of spooky quality, well... as spooky my too sweet and too high voice can get :-).

Ink Ocean: Brenda Clews, poetry, reading, mix; music (mixed by me), Alphacore, 'side_project,' from "Side Project":http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/33504, and Extra's, 'The Quickest Vessel to a Distant Future,' from "Water Every Full Moon": http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/45140 (with permissions)

A version I am happier with - it's darker, and, with the whispering, intense, and perhaps gets to the feelings of the oil spill, and those kinds of pollutions in our lives, and love in the midst of that - in the world we've created, or something like that! Lots of levels in this piece, lots going on, hesitate to give any aspect dominance in a short description.

From Ocean Words
Where the poem began... which you can read here if you wish.



Gulf Oil Slick, 2010, 13" x 10", 33cm x 25.5cm, 
mixed media on canvas




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Veils to Clothe Venus

Here is the recording I will include in my upcoming album, 'Starfire, a collection of love poems,' which I'll release on Jamendo when it's finished:




direct link to Veils to Clothe Venus with music (2:33min)

Buz Hendricks created an original track for the Suite of Botticelli Venus Poems. I have used a section of the ethereal, jazz-influenced, sensual track he sent me for this particular poem. You can hear the whole piece with poem and music (his mix) at Jamendo.

Veils to Clothe Venus is the 10th track in the album of poetry performance recordings I am working on. Music from a Jamendo musician accompanies each of the readings in the album. While I still have to write the poem for the last track, and the muse can be quirky, I am hoping to have the album available for listening and free download on Jamendo within a few weeks.

In the process of creating a listenable track, I recorded the little poem maybe a dozen times. Since I liked the reading alone and with Buz's music, I offer a shortened voice-only version of the same reading above. The simple, plain, unadorned voice:





direct link to voice-only version of Veils to Clothe Venus (1:48min)


Veils to clothe Botticelli's Venus

A poem arises catching the energy, imparting meaning, hesitant, faltering for words, images, rhythms.

My love for you.

Slowly, through endless revisions,
shaping this love.

Disparate layers emerge, an undercurrent infiltered with strands, approaches, understandings, memories, hopes, desires,
the way the sensual mind composes.

We create ourselves through each other. It's more complete,
who I am with you.

Not a version of reality but a veil of being,
the poem of love that is
a transparent garment we clothe ourselves with,
our metaphors and concepts of a world

which resists
our gaze.

Writing is a deeply
meditative act.

A language of love.

A listening.

From Women In Summer - the process of painting

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Veils To Clothe Botticelli's Venus - a poetry recording (2:37min)


Veils To Clothe Botticelli's Venus by Brenda Clews


Music by Buz Hendricks: Somewhere Off Jazz Street.
Buz created beautiful ethereal, jazz-influenced, sensual music for a poem I composed out of my Suite of Botticelli Venus Poems. The original track is at Jamendo. I reworked a portion of that track of music with a new reading of the central poem of the Suite tonight:

Veils to clothe Botticelli's Venus

A poem arises catching the energy, imparting meaning, hesitant, faltering for words, images, rhythms.

My love for you.

Slowly, through endless revisions,
shaping this love.

Disparate layers emerge, an undercurrent infiltered with strands, approaches, understandings, memories, hopes, desires,
the way the sensual mind composes.

We create ourselves through each other. It's more complete,
who I am with you.

Not a version of reality but a veil of being,
the poem of love that is
a transparent garment we clothe ourselves with,
our metaphors and concepts of a world

which resists
our gaze.

Writing is a deeply
meditative act.

A language of love.

A listening.

From Women In Summer - the process of painting


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Poetry birthday present...

Thanks to an early Christmas present, my computer has a new hard drive -albiet a cheap Western Digital. After 6 months of constant freezing of programs, requiring turning off and waiting an hour, it's a phenomenal relief to be able to use my iMac again. No idea how I produced as much as I have with an ailing computer.

In celebration, I burned a CD today of Starfire - mostly the whole album of my love poems, though there are a few I haven't yet done... for a birthday present.

Now that everything is working again, hopefully I can finish the album and get it uploaded to Jamendo in the next few months.





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My Body Is A Word (2:23min)


direct link to SoundCloud: My Body Is A Word by Brenda Clews

Brenda Clews, poetry, voice, mix.
Music, Lena Selyanina's piano solo, 'Summer Morning,' from "Snowstorm Romance": http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/73627 .



direct link to SoundClick: My Body Is A Word


The album of poetry recordings that I am working on seems to be on a theme of love. I don't have a whole lot of love poems, in the 'I and Thou' form. 'My Body Is A Word' is an older poem that I had up at my original and now defunct art website. It seems to work in context of the album, and also, hopefully, on its own.

A tiny chorus of voices, yes, positioned behind the main voice.






MY BODY IS A WORD

I

My body is a delta
awash with scripture
rivers of language flow over my tongue,
raw with salt.

My body is a delta
of waterways, signs,
inscribed, and gendered,
my body is tattooed
with the blue veins of roses.

II

I am rain falling on the edges of leaves;
I am earth, wet, a glistening emerald;
I am a breath of fire on the horizon at dawn;
I am a white orchid unlacing.

I am the succulence of the peeling of fresh fruit,
juice of mango, orange, kiwi, bloodred pomegranate;
the thorns of the pineapple rind fall into the sink.

Remember when
our bodies flowing
into the flowing warmth of each other,
paradise on the horizon of being.

Our bodies flowing, washing the world.

Our scripts intertwining the way
we endlessly write our lives.

I am the crimson space
in your heart.

You are the calyx of flowers reaching for the rain;
You are the sun ripening the fruit;
You are the awakening of the world;
You are the origin of the alphabet of love.

I read your body every day,
finding a script
like traces vanishing in the night
of light everywhere.


© 2003 by Brenda Clews
Recording, 2010

_____
(Note: Trying out different players - Sitemeter is my storage site for recordings, especially as how SC allows edited versions to be uploaded into the same url. Once the 'album' is finished, I'll upload it to Jamendo, where it will be available for free download. Any feedback now can aid help me in the creation of this collection of recordings - and I thank those of you who have offered responses and suggestions. It all really helps.)


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Starfire in the Night





direct link to the recording of the poem: Starfire in the Night.
Moi, poetry, voice, mix. Music: Frank Harper's beautiful 'Moon's Eve,'
from "Fingerstyle - Set 1": http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/62508.





Album cover from a painting of mine - see original poem and painting,
from a post on Feb 27, 2009. (And actually I think I threw out the painting
in a funk one day.)




click on images for larger size

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Drumbeat



direct link: Drumbeat

I wrote this poem at the end of January in 2008, and have always wished to record it. Perhaps a year ago I found Chriss Onac's track, TRANSE, a drumming solo, on his album, Tribal, at Jamendo. But until yesterday I lacked the courage to try a recording. It took all day and most of the evening, with one upload and an immediate delete too!

As I push further into experimentation, tweeking, playing, exploring sonic possibilities, I find I am moving from straight poetry readings to more of a performance piece, adding filters to each of the vocal recordings. While I usually layer the same takes with different filters, I also include other takes, which might sound like echoes but actually aren't. Whether this adds a richness to the sonic scape of the piece, I don't know, but that's what I'd like to aim towards. Multiplicities, oh yeah!

In this recording, I did not want a cerebral reading, as is so often the case with poetry, but something primal, with emotion.

Recording it over and over, my window shut tight against the outdoor noise, fans turned off, in the Summer heat I began to sweat, and then let go, shimmying, shaking, drumming with my hands, fast in the air, reciting the poem. There is an emotional pitch in this recording  that I am not sure works, though it does incline towards an element of rock music, somehow (laughing).


Drumbeat

The palm drops
on the inside
of the skin
animal drumming
beating on the drum
drumbeating the night
beating on the eardrum
drum drumming deeply
drawing the heartbeat drumbeat.

My body is the drumbeat
drumbeating my skin
sweating, hot,
drumbeating my body's
percussion, rub, snare,
pounding, colliding of
musical pulses
lyrical sinewy
or staccato modern
or wild shamanic
hair flying
free.

Red shiny satin clinging,
wet
sweat.

The djembe hip bag that I scrubbed, suede dyed to emulate Holstein cow naugahyde, in black and cream, with a wild boar bristle brush and saddle soap because of the dark streaks, smells of animal hide.

I hold it to my nose, and smell. Animal. Hide.
The drumming of the jungle.
An animal skin.

Taut.

Primal beat bounding
resonating, resounding.

You gaze at me, though you haven't looked at me.

I am in your gaze without your seeing me.

It is my hunger you remember feeding,
that you want to feed.
Our heat burns hotly.

Drumbeating
the rhythms beating in us,
the African djembes
dance us.




(click for larger size)






Some of the layers in Drumbeat recording...


Addendum. July 29, 2010: Was up till 4am compressing and panning tracks in Drumbeat, with thanks to Robert A on Gather for his invaluable musical advice (read in comments below). Below is a photo of the 'new' waveforms:



Also, Jan wrote that my reading in Drumbeat is "natural force" rather than a "forced oratory in the rendition"... wow, thank you. Love you guys, your generosity is so beautiful. xo♡

_________________
Robert A writes, at Gather: "Brenda - Spikey; meaning very sharp edges where some frequencies really jump out and overwhelm and distract from the other tracks. Looking at the waveform chart, I'm not sure what system you recorded this on, but in most systems (ProTools, Ableton, Cubase, etc) you have the options of using plug-ins, like compression to run over the selected track when you're cleaning up your production at the end. Looking at the waveforms, it looks like you could also get some benefit from keeping some of your levels lower to prevent distortion and that way you can keep some headroom to decide how you want to make the relative tracks work together when you're done. Also, it looks like your panning is all in the same place except one track. If you move your panning to different locations you'll end up with a larger more 3D sound that will make your poetry and presentation more epic.

I'm not the greatest production expert in the world, but you can hear some of my recordings featured on my profile page.

And yes, Annette Peacock is very cool. I got into her when she worked with Bill Bruford."

So, back to the audio programs to see if I can clean up my recording a bit. :)

My response to his comment: "I will study what you've written like an arcane text of magical spells! I use Garage Band... lately into the various filters. I layer recordings, sometimes the same one, usually at least one other, too. I pull track by track into Audacity and work on the levels. Beyond that, I'd be lost.

Compression - meaning normalize? I've used levelator for the voice often, but didn't this time. It certainly boosts the inner, central sound and removes the spikes. And I've run Audacity's normalize too, only not on this recording.

I'll go back to it. Try Levelator on the voice, to see. I find it normalizes too much, and so nowadays I use it, while also layering with an original with its highs and lows. Emotion resides in the highs and lows, at least to my ears.

I've never used panning, ever. Scared to go near it, in other words.

Though delightedly I did use a 'Wandering Voice' filter on one of the tracks, which I really enjoyed. :-)"

Will work on it again over the next few days. What's nice about SoundClick is that you can upload edited versions into the same spot.


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A Poetic of Light/Une poétique de la lumière

This meditative video poem is dedicated to all of you. With thanks...



Poetic of Light/ Poétique de la lumière uploaded by Brenda Clews to YouTube.


The poetry is addressed to the lover, the soul mate, you, the viewer.

My videopoem is finished. After a week of nearly nonstop work, most nights till 3 or 4 am and up again at 7 or 8am and working right through, I am happy with it. For your enjoyment, I have uploaded both the final version with poetry, and the silent version too.

I searched through my writing for nearly a whole day to find what might work. I decided on 
'White Fire,' a meditation on soul mates since I had been vaguely dancing with that poem in mind on the day that I taped this, and had printed it on fine paper and threw the pages in the air and danced on them during the videoing of my dance session last June.

White Fire now has a web page at my Art & Writings website, where you may read the prosepoem in its entirety. In the video I have only used a few quotes on the creation of the universe out of light. I wrote this prose poem nearly a decade ago, and at that time I was invited to read it on the radio and it nearly became a performance with 8 dancers and musicians!

The celestial and ecstatic piano is from "Spring" in the album, '
Piano Paintings' by the brilliant Russian composer and pianist, Lena Selyanina. It holds a Creative Commons license and may be listened to, and downloaded freely, at Jamendo (it's also available on the Internet Archives, and as a torrent on Mininova). Lena came by my website, since I had left a note at her site on Jamendo that the music in my videopoem, Venus Enroute, is hers, and wrote: "I am impressed by your art and happy that you have found inspiration from my music. I am looking forward to see how the Spring dance will evolve....with warm greetings from Helsinki, Finland, Lena." How wonderful.

One of the challenges I set myself in this videopoem was to create a self-contained movie. I have, therefore, included the text of the prosepoetry being recited 
in the movie itself. You will see that I have worked very hard to produce this video in a way that the text becomes a design element in the video itself.

Except at the end, where I felt darkness was most effective.


I hope you enjoy viewing it as much as I have enjoyed making it.

Earlier version without words: Poetic of Light/Poétique de la lumière (a poetry without words) at Vimeo.


Comments (1)

Video: 'Venus Enroute' from "The Botticelli Venus Suite of Poems"



Venus Enroute uploaded by Brenda Clews to YouTube.

The poetry is an excerpt from my "Botticelli Suite of Venus Poems":

She stopped to rest. Momentarily, in the field of pure possibility, her position unfixed, indeterminate.

Without hovering, or insecurity.

It was an image of being in the vast field of life.

Without knowing. In a position of unknowing, positionless, I suppose. Existing without location or momentum. Vibrating with possibility. It wasn't exciting or fearful, just what is.

Nothing is fixed or certain, though there are always solutions to problems.

Then she continued on.

She didn't doubt her certainties.


The music clip is from Lena Selyanina's 'Sarah's Dance,' from her album, "Piano Poetry," which carries a Creative Commons license and may be found here: http://www.jamendo.com/en/album/45056.

The chair sequence and the poem added to it had no original connection. I cut the clip from two hours of footage as perhaps 'workable.' Then I searched for a poem. It's amazing how the poem 'fits' the movement, huh? Creatively perhaps we are a gesture, a gesture where here poetry and dance are an aligned fusion.

Albeit, the resulting video is a bit comic. The tag on the back of my dress? As soon as I saw the footage I grabbed the dress and cut it off. The other camera? Ahh, I'm still just learning how to make videos and don't have a clone plugin to remove these elements. Enjoy the humor!

(Or perhaps, in context of the poem, since Venus has swung her scallop shell around to enter the world of experience, we could say the tag on her dress reads: 'If this Vintage Venus is found wandering, send her back to "Mount Olympus"!)
Comments (5)

Magnolia Stellata, a videopoem

brendaclews has shared a video with you on YouTube:

From my Botticelli Venus Suite of Poems, 'Magnolia Stellata' is the first poem. I am learning how to make videopoems and while this is a complete version of the poem there is a talk to accompany it that I haven't yet recorded but I share anyhow. I taped this on Solstice 2008. Hope you enjoy this rendition.

It was videotaped with an iMac 10.5.5 and edited in Final Cut Express 4.0.1.
This was filmed on, and for, Winter Solstice, though there seemed a glitch and I couldn't upload it to You Tube for a few days.

A little late, but ah well.

My daughter saw it and while she would prefer I cut the hair shaking at the end, she thinks it's my best videopoem to date.

That's praise!
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