Recently TriQuarterly began to feature the video essay, an emerging form Marilyn Freeman described as “the mixed-breed love child of poetry, creative nonfiction, art house indies, documentary, and experimental media art.” At its core the video essay is, like its print counterpart, an attempt to figure something out.
In “History,” a beautifully voiced essay shot through portraits of other Scotsmen, we saw Dinty W. Moore reckon with his fragmented past in the streets of Edinburgh. “History” was Moore’s first video essay, but not his first foray into the kind of memoir that serves as an invitation to see ourselves reflected in the lives of others.
TriQuarterly isn’t the only magazine to feature such work. In “Zidane,” published by our friends at Blackbird, Claudia Rankine and John Lucas borrow language from Shakespeare and James Baldwin, among others, as well as imagery from the 2006 World Cup final, to assemble a haunting collage. In “Ode to Every Thing,” published in Requited, Eula Biss explores the mountain of things we accumulate for our kids and comes to a surprising conclusion. And forthcoming in Iron Horse, Kristen Radtke illustrates the rueful origin of Dugway, a chemical warfare testing facility, in “Utah.” To see any of these works is to be mindful of Adorno’s belief that the desire of the essay is to make the transitory eternal.
TriQuarterly is looking for essays that use language, image and sound with equal fluency and brio. And we’re looking for poetry with that same ambition.
One such work would be “DARPA Grand Challenge" by Robyn Schiff and Nick Twemlow. DARPA is the US Department of Defense program to fund driverless cars and humanoid robots to function in degraded environments. Schiff has described this poem as one composed “by and for robots.” Equally stunning is “First Death in Nova Scotia,” a poem by Elizabeth Bishop, adapted here by filmmaker John D. Scott. Scott’s spare composition ties the physical space to the world of the poem, yet leaves ample room for the viewer’s own imagination. And it’s hard not to love Jim Haverkamp’s soaring adaptation of M. C. Biegner’s prose poem “When Walt Whitman Was a Little Girl,” proof that Whitman’s poetry and sensibility continue to resound off the page.
What do we call poetry authored for the screen? Maybe, someday, poetry. Until then, we’re choosing to call it cinepoetry, and we hope to see more of it.
We welcome submissions of new video essays and cinepoems effective immediately:
We ask that you provide a link to the video. And please note: we are as happy to look at works-in-progress as you are to share them.