The Revolutionary Approach to Teaching Poetry

Poetry: A Powerful Ingredient In Film,Video And Digital Imagery

Herman Berlandt, grandfather of the poetry-film movement once said, “Our traditional arts can be traced back to pre-literate paleolithic times, and poetry, as oral incantations, can count itself among the most ancient forms of artistic expressions. On the other hand, film and its offspring video, now the dominant contemporary art form holding the attention of the entire world, has been in existence for less than a century. Yet this ubiquitous vehicle is now capable of revealing the entire freight of human creativity from prehistoric times to the present to billions of households.”

Herman founded the Poetry Film Festival which has been the first and most consistent effort showcasing and honoring some of the most inventive short poetry films and videopoems since 1975.  Berlandt’s vision is becoming more of a reality today thanks to the Internet and to affordable, high-quality digital moviemaking tools.  

When I became director of the festival I coined the term ‘Cin(E)-Poetry’ in 1996, which stands for cinematic(electronic)-poetry, and replaced the festival name to encompass the wide range of exciting entries that experiment with the language of cinema, using an array of video, film, animation, sound and computer techniques, to reinterpret, rethink and remake written or spoken poetry.  Today, the Cin(E)-Poetry Festival archive contains the richest and largest collection with over 500 titles spanning over a quarter century.

Ultimately, as Berlandt reminds us, “it’s the poetry and the fluid narration of the same that captures our own imagination and its high eagle vision of life, becoming eternal.” I wholeheartedly agree. Poetry has moved people to action, to tears and to ponder facets of our universal human condition.  Poetry has affected all of the arts in important ways through its ability to inspire through words either written or spoken. 

Poetry without technology simply becomes an old artform form struggling to find a place outside the library and art house café and back into the hearts and minds of everyday people.  Cin(E)-Poems show that poetry has a unique place in modern times as a tool for inspiration in the creation of new computer-aided art forms.  In this technological era, it may seem that poetry (in its traditional form) has fallen into the realm of “academic” appreciation rather than its true place in the world as an art form that attempts to speak to all of us, no matter our academic pedigree.   The best of poetry, at its heart, wills people to make their own poetry and to share it with others in a never-ending cycle of information sharing and intellectual progress.  Like the domino effect, once a good poem is heard or read, it propels us to continue the action by either writing, or speaking our own words.   Cin(E)-Poetry strives to put ‘poetry’ into computer technologies so technically-oriented generations can see how art, beauty AND poetry can be derived, enhanced and articulated through computer-aided, cinematic art. 

Cin(E)-Poetry is a groundbreaking marrying of the old and new technologies to show how the power of poetry can be delivered through the mass medium in dynamic and innovative ways.   Words are either seen or heard in a distinct style for each cinepoem, demonstrating both the power of words and the innumerable ways cinema can be used to heighten concepts within them.  Through the presentation of Cin(E)-Poetry, the artistic possibilities of old and new mediums of communication speak to lovers of the word, visual artists, filmgoers, teachers and the general public.  The application of computer- generated images in the hands of creative multimedia masters, with their rich color washes and unique startling caption arrangements and mood-reinforcing electronic sound-effects, has demonstrated some mind-blowing sensual and cerebral effects.  Gifted craftspeople have illustrated masterful use of advanced technology with very different treatments creating work ranging from deeply philosophic and futuristic to dazzling and humoresque epigrams.

Cin(E)-poetry, if used with care and sensitivity, can integrate all the arts, drama, dance, music, graphics and documentary elements.  For proliferating media outlets and their insatiable appetite for fresh material, the highly condensed Cin(E)-poem is quickly becoming an ideal format for Internet presentations.

George Aguilar  © 1999 Cin(E)-Poet, digital artist, instructor and events producer. 

Promoting Cin(E)-Poems Part1

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