Poetry, Remixed (Including Mine)

The Poetry Storehouse is doing for poetry what “open source” has done for software by gathering text and audio recordings under a Creative Commons license. I wrote a bit about what this means, and why it matters, on The Huffington Post.

Because I love this idea, and love collaboration in general, I released a number of my own poems and audio recordings to The Poetry Storehouse earlier this week. Within a short time, the curator Nic Sebastian had re-mixed this mesmerising film-poem based on my poem “Postcards From The War Hospital” (first published in Boston Poetry Magazine).

[vimeo 89751042 w=960 h=540]<a href="https://vimeo.com/89751042">Click here to watch the video</a>

Of course, I have had film-poems made of my poems before, such as the amazing work Alastair Cook did on “Jonah“. It is a different feeling, however, to release one’s poems into the ether, to be adapted by strangers. Yet the element of surprise in this case is precisely what makes this kind of open online collaboration so thrilling.

In the case of Nic’s film-poem, I never would have thought to combine the recording I submitted of me reading the poem with a recording of her reading the poem in duet fashion as she did. The effect is incredibly intimate, just as she intended given the nurse and soldier backstory she alludes to in her process notes. It sounds as though we took turns at the same microphone. Yet we have never met.

The artwork of Adam Martinakis is also incredibly striking. In her notes, Nic points out that the community for visual art online is much larger than that for poetry, and it follows that one effect of sharing this piece online has been to bring many new listeners to poetry who were already fans of Adam’s visual art. My feeling is that everyone wins when artists collaborate across disciplines.

Now, with The Poetry Storehouse, that missing piece of high-quality and freely-available poems falls into place for the film-poem community. May it grow, and prosper, from here.