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The Varieties of Poetic Experience

A while ago I began to solicit videos of friends and associates reading/performing/interpreting poems from my collection, In This Alone Impulse, in exchange for a copy of said collection. A dozen or so videos into this project, I’m amazed and impressed by the range of attitude, voice and dimension the videos have exhibited. Each of these videos represents not just a reading, but a unique response to poetry, and in that respect I think they’re quite valuable and interesting art-ifacts.

Ariel Basom took this with his cell phone, put the result through a filter, and came up with what seems to be a kind of eerie, Lynchian singles ad:

Matthew Simmons snuggles with his cat Emmett at the end of his video, and I can’t help but feel a vicarious comfort:

Maxfield Chandler lends his sad eyes to this reading, and the abstract background appears thought-like:

Mel Bosworth’s calm during his reading seems unsettling, as if he’s expressing some kind of condolence:

And compare Mel’s “Fatness” to Eric Leuschner’s, which robs the poem of any sentimental chords, switching sadness for bathos:

Paula Bomer had her reading recorded by a hand-held camera, and the result is a strange outtake from COPS, complete with a villain in fur to read the ransom note:

James J. Williams III thought for some reason that Philip Seymore Hoffman’s drag queen from Flawless ought to weigh in:

Ryan W. Bradley adds atmospherics to his reading, and obscures his face in a way that suggests testimony or alien abduction:

Daniel Coughlin describes his acrobatic video as “A metaphoric (re)birth”:

BL Pawelek gives a gravelly, weary voice to a harsh chiaroscuro, forefronting a chosen image from the poem:

Tan-ya Gerrodette uses the shoreline in an entirely different way for her video, and her voice-over adds an interesting anxiety:

I love the ambient insect and bird noises that give Greg Olear’s reading a kind of cozy, homespun feeling:

Zac Whittenburg defamiliarizes body parts to create an abstract composition that evokes the broken utility of the poem’s language:

AD Jameson throws himself at a playfully counterintuitive grift on his poem’s central image:

Stephen Johnson talked his yoga class into the service of his video, bringing community to the poem’s intimate dialog:

Todd Zuniga makes fun of me a little, which certainly touches on one of the central elements of the collection as a whole:

As these continue to come in (a few more are expected this coming week), I’ve come to see them as a kind of communion between myself and the reader, a shared experience in a way, that instead of reducing the work, expands it beyond what I alone could have managed. You can see these poems and more at my YouTube Channel.

12 thoughts on “The Varieties of Poetic Experience

    1. I think they make a fine collection, Mel. Thanks for your participation. I’m thinking that, with everyone’s approval, I might put them on a DVD, along with some of my own, to go along with a reprint of the book, should there ever be one.

  1. Shya, thanks a lot for prodding me to participate. It’s great to see all the videos assembled this way. (I have something of a thing for long posts with multiple embedded YouTube videos!) Looking forward to even more videos. Cheers, Adam

    1. I played yours for someone recently, Adam, and could have sworn it was different than the previous time I’d seen it. Have you changed it, or was it just the acid?

  2. this is such a great project, it’s great to see so many different people/voices/videos working off of one writer’s vision and each one making something different out of it!

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