Promoting Poetry Films, videos and Cin(E)-Poems via Emerging Technologies Part 2

by G. Aguilar c 2011

2000-2010

During 2000, taking on the roll of “lame duck” executive director of the National Poetry Association allowed me to plan a personal tour of the country and beyond that I called the "Mother Earth: Cin(E)-Poetry Tour". Using NPA mailings lists, I sent out flyers announcing I would come and visit any group or school to convey the educational and artistic merits of Cin(E)-Poetry.

I had two other personal agendas as well.  One, was to make my own cin(e)-poems and the other was to find a new place to live.  I grew very weary of San Francisco following the dot.com bust which left more empty warehouses and no more cool artists to fill them because they had already been booted out due to the dot.com bubble years earlier.   Around 1996-1997, I had moved the NPA to the very cool SomArts cultural center located in the south of market area. Headed by Jack Davis,  SomArts was one of the last, great alternative arts center anywhere.  The amazing exhibitions and events that happened every month were truly inspiring and helped me make the decision to come out-of-the-closet and become a fulltime artist/filmmaker.  And, although the literary scene in the Bay Area was still very strong, it was still dominated by an older generation that continued to resist my efforts to introduce new technology elements. 

I felt that by making my own films, and seeing the country and connecting with those who were passionate about this underground genre (and the new tools I was using), would be the rechargingI needed at this stage in my life. 

Before setting out on my journey, I practiced making a few cin(e)-poems while on the computer in the NPA office.

An Uncommon Ghost was a collaboration with slam poet favorite James Cagney Jr.  At that time, I was teaching myself how to use an animation program and suddenly the idea of a surfing skeleton flying through the universe developed.  James provided the voice and poem for this piece that was very nearly finished when he basically “riffed” the poem while on his lunch break from work.

I also collaborated with dead poets Sylvia Plath and e.e. cummings, sometimes using black and white film or 3D animation.  In my film ‘Agitated Beauty, we see a young woman walking to go for a swim while we hear Plath’s own voice reciting a portion of “The Disquieting Muses”.  I was compelled to use Plath’s own voice after finding an old audio recording of hers in the archive.  I wasn’t a huge fan of Plath up until then but hearing her give such a “restrained-scream” of a reading really put the hook in me. I felt like I could bring Plath’s poetry to more people if they would just hear her.  Working on this film and seeing other cin(e)-poems featuring the slam poet Patricia Smith taught me that sometimes it is better to be led to the book by first hearing and/or seeing the poet read in their own voice.

The e.e. cummings animated collaboration ‘somewhere I have never travelled’ was in direct reference to the long journey I was about to make and I wanted to channel a bit of his spirit. Cummings always seemed like a poet who was constricted by the book’s limitations and I believed he would have been a great cin(e)-poet had he been alive today.

I wanted to test out my new camera in a live setting so I filmed the local poet, writer and blogger Adam Shames as he was conducting one of his “Creativity Evenings”.  It was a one shot video titled, ‘Tunnel’ and begins and ends with a wide shot and slow zoom-in using the digital zoom feature on the camera until everything became pixilated. I then super-imposed words over the video during post-production. This video qualifies as the first video I ever shot on camera and imported into a computer.

I also made‘And What Shall I Ever Know?’ which featured the poet and grandfather of poetry film promotion Herman Berlandt.  It was shot and edited along the beaches of Bolinas. Herman was well into his 80's and getting harder to talk to and still bitter that I kicked him out of the NPA, so this was our last collaboration together.

I uploaded these to the NPA website in late 2000 and, almost immediately, started receiving global inquiries from:

SeNef, the Seoul Internet Film Festival - Aug., 2000
Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema - April 30, 2000

Eveo.com, 2000-2001
The Bitscreen.com, Les ciném@s de demain I:
Centre national d'art et de culture Georges Pompidou ,Paris
, Jan. 2001
Streaming Cinema Philadelphia 2001
Streaming Cinema 2.0 at Arts Electronica, Austria, Sept.2001

They all wanted to screen these new short cin(e)-poems and some even paid very handsomely for the privilege of licensing my work for their website.  By late 2000, there was a new, growing interest in short, dynamic videos and  I was very excited at the prospect of using inexpensive digital tools to create my own films that actually earned money.   Using the Internet was also an alternative way to show my work (and other cin(e)-poems) beyond the usual film festival circuits. At that time, film festivals were only showing long form narrative or documentary works so I couldn’t even enter my work into most.  I now felt that there was a global audience out there that would be open to these kinds of short, poetry-based films, thanks to the Internet.

I began the tour in early 2001, with my new laptop and camera becoming the pallet and paintbrush. I left the Bay Area for 6 months making cin(e)-poems wherever and whenever I was inspired.  Sometimes it was in a café across the street from where the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia, or a hotel room overlooking the Grand Canyon or even while driving a truck down a rural highway in Minnesota.  I even started a documentary about Peru while hiking the Inca trail heading to Machu Picchu.  I stayed in various places and met interesting people in Canada, the US and South America.  I created 7 new cin(e)-poems, made some new, great friends and learned a lot about the country and myself.  I also brought several CDs of films and videos from the archive to show others.

Here were some of the key stops where I either created new cin(e)-poems or made presentations.

Nova High School, Seattle, WA., 2001
Sedalia Middle School, Sedalia, Missouri, 2001
Intermedia Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2001,Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota, 2001
Perpich Center for Arts Education, Golden Valley, MN, 2001, Long Prairie/Grey Eagle HS, Long Prairie, MN,
Pan-African Literary Showcase

I met with Nora Barry of Druid Media in Philadelphia.  Nora was an early advocate of my work as she was one of the early curators of films and videos designed specifically for the web. She was instrumental in getting my films screened at the Pompidou in France as part of a program called ‘Les ciném@s de demain I’.

One of the most important stops on my tour was meeting the teacher from Long Prairie who requested a free VHS of the ‘Best of Cin(E)-Poems’ back in the early 90’s.   David Bengtson said I had my own motel room available in Long Prairie for a few days where I can visit his high school and teach workshops to his students.  With my laptop, simple video editing software and digitized films from the archive, I showed students how to make poetry-based videos on a laptop.  Meanwhile, I was developing a good relationship with my new friend David who had been teaching poetry videos in this small town for years. You could easily tell his students loved him and he was very passionate about the genre. David is also an excellent poet and a really, really great guy.  We worked together, in Long Prairie making a couple of cin(e)-poems. “Blackbirds” was made while driving down highway 71 on our way to St. Paul for another workshop.  I sometimes held the steering wheel while I asked David to view what I had just created on the laptop.   I also met the author Debra Diblasi, who wrote a short article about what I was trying to do at the time. “Artists untangle the web of a new medium”

After a presentation at Hamline University, I received this nice letter:


“Dear George,

On behalf of the students and faculty at Hamline University, I want to thank you making our Introduction to Poetry and Creative Writing classes stops on your Mother Earth Cin(E)-Poetry Tour 2001. Without question, your presentations made an impact. Many students later commented to me about what they had seen and learned in both classes. The poems you shared and the words you said opened doors for them that they may not even know existed.

And while some students may have known that "video poetry" was around, they were not aware of how much had been done and what could be done with the form. You provided both a helpful history of the genre and the means for students to appreciate the art of the Cin(E)-poem.


Besides the immediate effect of showing students ways to experience poetry beyond reading and attending readings, I suspect that a couple of the students who saw your work will be inspired to pick up cameras themselves.

Thanks again, George, for sharing your extensive Cin(E)-poetry collection, your excellent Cin(E)-poems, and your remarkable expertise. We are thankful to have been part of the world tour. Best wishes as the tour continues."

Sincerely,

Mark Olson

Assistant Professor


Click for the Complete Travel blog from 2001


The tour finished in August 2001 and was more successful than I could have imagined. The following films were created while on the road:

Blackbirds

Meaning

Prayer for Simplicity

What He’ll do

Under the Happiest Dawn

What I Thought I Heard While Drinking an $8 glass of Wine

The Color of Jazz

I returned home inspired to start editing my first short poetry documentary ‘Path of the Sun/Child of the Moon’ based on my hike from Cuzco to Machu Picchu in Peru.  I also decided I was going to move to Miami Beach Florida, which seemed like a good place to begin a new life filled with possibilities.   It was also around this time I met a lovely woman named Andrea at one of my friend Adam’s Creativity parties. We started to date and suddenly Florida appealed to me less and less…

I was staying with a friend in Oakland while I was editing ‘Path’. My daily ritual was getting up early, putting on my walkman and walking to the gym to exercise and then returning for a long session of editing.  One particular morning, I noticed how quiet the streets were even as my mind was thinking about the film.  It wasn’t until I got to the gym and glanced at the monitor and saw what I thought was a movie.  I saw a plane fly directly into the World Trade Center, a place I had just visited only several weeks earlier.  They said that the events of Sept. 11 “changes everything” and, in many ways, it certainly did and only realized how much it had looking back.

If my tour taught me anything it taught me how not to be fearful. To not fear being an artist, to not fear going into the dead of night in a strange place, to not fear the wintry mountain nor the deep chasm of the Grand Canyon. And certainly not to fear people. Yes, fear SOME people if they are armed and act crazy but the majority of people I met across the U.S. where some of the kindest people I ever met.   I drove through towns that carried signs on the highway that read: ‘This road maintained by the Ku Klux Klan”.  My rental car got stuck on the snowy slopes of Mt. Rainer one night and was rescued by a guy named ‘Joel’, who apparently kept a watch out for fools like me who tried to drive up the mountain.

In late August 2001, Andrea mentioned that she always wanted to visit Italy and I said, “I’ll go with you. I’ve never been either.”  Although 911 made us hesitate, we decided to go ahead and fly to Italy in October 2001. I soon finished ‘Path of the Sun/Child of the Moon’ and set out with Andrea to shoot more cin(e)-poems while in Italy.  Click for the travel journal.

When we returned, I edited the following cin(e)-poems:

Impressions of a Moment

Esistere

Portrait on Watercolor

By late 2001, I was an expert at shooting digital video, importing clips into my laptop and editing videos using a very simple editing program. I learned how to manipulate digital video using Photoshop and other software programs that were readily free, as a 30-day demo, and allowed me  to do all sorts of effects.  I was also very good at finding different ways to post my videos to the web and how to reach people using a variety of new online tools.   Email and web articles expressing interest in cin(e)-poetry were regularly popping up in my mailbox. 
Here are just a few of them:


“Hi George,

 

My name is Elaine and I am a student teacher for 7th grade language arts.  The unit I am teaching is poetry.  I had wanted to integrate technology into my unit so I started doing research and discovered videopoetry.  Through my research, I ran across the National Poetry website and clicked your link and discovered this amazing resource, thank you!

 

To finish up, I have used your site as a demo site to show my 7th grade students to get inspiration.  The students are very video and computer savvy and thus I hope that skill translates into some good projects.  We are just in the beginning stages of the videopoem but my goal is it will enhance their poetry learning far more than just reading and writing poetry. 

 

So thank you for the work you are doing.” 

Elaine

 

“Dear Mr. Aguilar,

 

I enjoyed looking at your video archive. I am a PhD graduate student in

Educational Psychology at Texas A&M University. My specialization is in

technology and learning theory. I am interested in the connection between

cognitive development, self-efficacy, and the use of technology. I have used

technology with poetry in a high school classroom, but in a different form. 

I found your videos very moving and expressive.”

 

Regards,

 

Martha Green

Texas A&M University

“The multimedia project cin(e)poems is delightful in its superb execution of the technology to bring something new to an old medium. In the cin(e)poem “Impressions of a Moment” by George Aguilar (george.aguilar.com), poetry appears merged with images and music. The poetry is presented in conjunction with images much the way dialogue appeared in silent movies. Lines of poetry are presented in their own screen followed by a relevant image.”

Eleanor Graves
George Mason University


“Dear George,

I am curating a series of contemporary Canadian and International poetry-films, which explore the dynamic symbiosis of poetic language and moving image. During my research I found your website.

 

The program will be shown during our 4th Fabulous Festival of Fringe Film which starts end of August. My series will also be shown before our poetry performance festival mid October at the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery in Owen Sound. Do give you an idea about our organization and location: we are non-profit charitable arts organization within a municipality of 12,000 people. I personally like to show hybrid art forms such as cine-poetry or dance on film (shown last year) and have an interest of showing the works to school students.

best wishes,

Ilse

 

Ilse Gassinger

Director

 

Durham Art Gallery, Canada

 

Hello,

I first heard of the cin(e)- poetry website when I was taking a computer skills class for high school teachers at Loyola Marymount University. Our instructor had an article on a video poetry project that teachers could do with their students and the website was listed in the article. I have since tried the project with my English students and they loved it! I wanted to purchase the DVD so I could show them some professional examples. I am hoping that the DVD will inspire them even more to become interested in poetry.

 

Thanks,

Rachel

 

“Dear George: Very nice to hear from you and saw you films on your site and was very impressed by " Frozen, Blistered Hand". I was wondering if this film is available and do you have other short films not posted on the web I maybe able to look over.

 

Ram Devineni

Rattapallax

 

 

“Hi

Thanks for sharing your work Your pieces are beautiful-great work! We love your work and would like to include it on our site!”

 

Best,

 

Sara

Lingual.net

In November, David Bengtson called me and invited me to come to Baltimore to do a presentation on Cin(E)-Poetry for the National Conference of Teacher’s of English (NCTE).  I recall showing films and talking about how I made cin(e)-poems using my laptop, camera and simple editing software to a room full of mostly high school English teachers.  Nine years later, one of those teachers (now a professor) wrote, "It was the work of Cin(E)-Poet George Aguilar and teacher David Bengston, co-presenters of a session at NCTE's annual convention in 2001, that inspired the project I report here." - Denise. Stuart. Cin(E)-Poetry: Engaging the Digital Generation in 21st-Century Response is a journal article by Prof. Denise Stuart that chronicled the success she had teaching Cin(E)-Poetry at the teacher’s program at the University of Akron, Ohio, using the methods and approaches David and I had demonstrated.  This higher-education program trains would-be high school English teachers how to use technology to bring poetry to students.

From late 2001-2002, a few national and international venues and websites decided to screen the new works and we won a few awards:

Berkeley Film and Video Festival, Berkeley, CA 2001
49th Annual Columbus International Film and Video Festival

Rome University III, ITALY. New Media Poetry, Nov. 2002
CIN(E)-POETRY SHOWCASE", Seattle, WA, Nov. 2002
Zebra Poetry Festival Award, Berlin, Germany July 2002
Seattle Poetry Festival, Seattle, Wash. 2002

3rd Hollywood.com Indie Film Festival 2002

In September 2002 , I traveled to Spain for the first time at the invitation of Giorgio De Marchis, from Complutense University, who was collaborating with the Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art and the Circulo Belles Artes, Madrid Spain, Sept. 24-25 2002  Giorgio had learned of cin(e)-poetry, via the web, and asked me to make a presentation at those two venues.  I translated many of my videos into Spanish and with the help of an interpreter, was able to conduct a few workshops to adults in Madrid.  I also had the opportunity to visit the Prado and the Thiessen museums.  Here is a blog entry on that trip. 

Although I appreciated what the Internet was doing to further the cause and my work, I wasn’t particularly thrilled about my films being shown in a 3”x 5” window on a computer screen. So I developed, Cinematic(Electronic)-Poetry on Digital Canvas, which was designed to let viewers experience cin(e)-poetry like a painting and also show how multimedia art (involving sound, images and text) will be presented in museums of the future. I first demonstrated this at SomArts during a Day of the Dead exhibition and then brought it with me to Madrid to show attendees to the workshop. By 2003, ‘Cin(E)-Poetry on Digital Canvas’ was offered a prime exhibition spot at Seattle’s annual Bumbershoot Festival.

My work was included in the Seattle Poetry Festival, run by Danika Dinsmore, in 2002. I was also invited by Warren Dean Fulton to the Vancouver Videopoem Festival to conduct a workshop on making digital cin(e)-poems and fully enjoyed the festival. It had one of the biggest crowds I'd ever seen for this type of screenings. Meanwhile, the interest in cin(e)-poems continued:


“Hi! Tuesday night I saw several poetry films here in Seattle. I was absolutely awe-struck. I've been a writer of  poetry for about 7 years, have never been a fan of the "slam" or other alternative poetic media, and was skeptical of this. However, after Tuesday I'm very excited about this genre and  I commend the innovation of the project, as well as your efforts and the efforts of others to expand Cin(e)-Poetry's audience!”


-Shari Schneider,Seattle, WA

 

Please send me info on how to acquire cine-poems from your catalog archive for broadcast. We are a public cable station in Athens Ohio and are definitely interested in airing some of this. Thanks!”


-Phil Michael,Athens, Ohio

 


”I am currently an MA student at the University of Sheffield. I found your website and am interested in your catalog of film-poems and cinepoems. Right now i am finishing up a dissertation on film-poems.Any resources you can let me know about would of course be helpful. I am planning on continuing my research with film and poetry towards an MPhil/PhD.”


-Rob Speranza,Sheffield, England

“Hello, my name is Rick and I am a Video/Digital student Artist.  I'm currently attending Cal. State University Northridge involved in theVideo/Film Art program.  I am working towards an BA degree.  I would like more information or access to your catalog of art works.  I'm new to this program and would like to see some works to help me give a sense of direction in my own pieces.”
-Rick Tuazon,Cal State Northridge

Hello George- A little over a year ago you came to Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis, MN and gave a presentation to a small crowd of interested individuals, myself included. I loved your work, and shortly thereafter, I purchased equipment and began making my own poetry-based films. Thank you for your time, again.” -Robert S. Jersak

The following festivals, schools and websites were presenting Cin(E)-poetry:

East Bay Media Center, Berkeley, CA 2003
Palo Alto Arts Center, Palo Alto, CA 2003
                                                         
Philadelphia Fringe Festival:New Directions in New Media 2003                    
Berkeley Film and Video Festival, Berkeley, CA 2004 (Grand Prize Winner: experimental)
International Festival on VideoPoesia, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov-25-2
8 2004        
Universitat Dortmund, Dortmund, GERMANY 2004      
The Center for International Education (CIE), St. Paul MINN., 2004
University of California, Santa Barbara Film Study Dept., Santa Barbara, CA 2005 
MotionFlicks.com: Online Distributor 2005                                                                 
VISIBLE VERSE, Vancouver, Canada 2005

Lingual.net: Online Educational Resource 2006
CineClix: Online Distributor 2006

I continued to create new work. Between 2002-2005, the following were created.

Alone on an Island

An Ageless Certainty (A collaboration with Guy Johnson, Maya Angelou’s son.)

Ancestral Mutation

Frozen, Blistered Hand

A Matter of Faith

Afterglow

Mighty Mountain/Tiny Flower

Each work takes a very different visual and poetic approach and I scoured the web looking for pieces of software that would help me push the envelope.  I also explored poetry beyond its western view and became more impressed with how words, images and sound do communicate ideas differently from each one another.  I began to question myself on the artistic uses of each regularly, “Should I convey this idea as a sound, image or text? Should I use animation, black and white footage or video? Should we hear the poem or read it?"

The film, ‘Frozen, Blistered Hand’ was the first work I created using what is now called ‘machinima’ or game footage.  By the early part of the 21st Century, videogames were going beyond ‘Super Mario Brothers’ graphics and presenting more photo realistic looking scenes and characters.  More importantly, videogames played on a computer were now allowing users to move a camera within a scene and letting them program how the digital characters should “act” in a scene.  In ‘Frozen’, I captured dog fight scenes from an airplane combat game, digitally repainted them and mixed them with still images and found footage.

2006 brought a new leap in media creation and distribution.  Youtube had become a global phenomenon, allowing anybody with a video camera and Internet to upload any video for free.  There were a few, similar websites doing the same thing but Youtube was the first to make the process simple, easy and free.  In previous years, I was only able to upload a few cinepoems to my website and needed to pay for the extra bandwidth.  Now I could upload my entire catalog and it wouldn’t cost me a thing.  However, after browsing the videos already on Youtube, I decided against it.  I felt it was too much like “a McDonald’s for video streaming”.  However, I continued to host my videos on websites that were specific to the arts and cinema even though I knew they would lose against this new, streaming Goliath of the web.  Nonetheless, I advocated for Youtube, whenever I made presentations, because it was an affordable way for people and non-profit groups to deliver their videos to a global audience.  In addition, websites like The Internet Archive, were making available thousands of hours of royalty-free found footage that could be used for artistic purposes. Suddenly, I had access to unique, never-before-seen, historical footage.

Another important shift in media creation occurred with the discovery of Second Life, an open-ended virtual world platform that looked like a videogame but really wasn’t.  In this virtual environment, users create avatars (digital representations of themselves) and build and do whatever they wanted. You could socialize with others through any crazy avatar you made and walk around an exact replica of Amsterdam’s red-light district or fly through someone’s imaginative, utopian vision of a castle in the clouds.  What I quickly learned was that films could be “shot” in Second Life using their built in-camera and making use of the widely inventive, visual set pieces others had created.  You could also work with other avatars from around the world and “direct” them within a virtual set.  Most of my cin(E)-poems, up to this point, where either made from footage and stillsI shot on my small digital camera or were complicated, time-consuming animated scenes I created from scratch. Now, I could make works featuring digital actors appearing in any kind of set piece that was available or that I could easily design within the virtual platform.  I created an avatar named, Cecil Hirvi, who looked like a half man/half cybernetic creature. Also, I did everything I could to never reveal my real identity to anyone in Second Life or told showed any of these works as George Aguilar productions..  I felt doing this would be fun and allow me to play with the notion of identity and to explore themes that I wouldn’t ordinarily pursue in real life.  Basically, I was experimenting with something new to create a fresh crop of cin(e)-poems. 

One day in Second Life, as I was admiring a hauntingly beautiful virtual cemetery just below Dracula’s castle, I met someone and during a brief conversation learned that she wrote poetry.  I asked her to share some with me and within a few minutes of reading it, decided to film her avatar dancing in this cemetery with the intention of adding her poem to it in postproduction.  The result is “Dance of the Hunted”, an animated-looking cin(e)-poem. What normally takes several months to create, using traditional methods, only took a few days.  The work looked and felt different from my previous work and soon my avatar Cecil Hirvi was involved in making over 40 narrative, documentary and poetic productions using the Second Life platform.   The following works are the most relevant to cin(e)-poetry:

A Borg’s Lament, is a chapter in the series called ‘ The Saga of Cecil’ that tracks the evolution of a cyborg, living in the virtual world, who is seeking the essentials of his humanity. Words by Cecil Hirvi.

Elegantly Forbidden, follows inhabitants of an ancient Japanese village who are prisoners of their social class, resigned to their different fates.

Between 2006 and 2009, I was fully immersed in new ways of making movies and exploring the mixing and mashing of all cinematic approaches with poetic and prosaic styles of writing.  One film, ‘Diary of Niclas Gheiler’, was a cinematic mash-up, that I made that combined found footage, stills and videogame footage with prose and poetry that told the story of my German grandfather who served alongside Hitler during WWI.  This film became one of my most successful films, winning several awards and screening at numerous venues around the world.

Also during that time, I began receiving visits from professors and poets from North America and Europe at my home.  Teacher David Bengtson received a small grant that enabled him to come visit for a week so he could learn how to make cin(e)-poems on his laptop. Prof. Martina Pfeiler of Dortmund Technical University was currently on a teaching stint in Atlanta and flew to the Bay Area and stayed with me and Andrea for the night. She and I viewed dozens of poetry films and video and we took a lovely walk through the botanical gardens.

Prof. Paul Portuges, an accomplished author, screenwriter and poet from the cinema department at UC Santa Barbara, drove up for a visit and decided we should collaborate on a few machinima cin(e)-poems. The results were:

To My Beloved, one of my favorite collaborative efforts, is a story Paul wrote based on the love letters of Mao’s wife Kai-hui.

Kiss, a cin(e)-poem about all the things a kiss can mean.

Teacher and video artist Tom Konyves of Canada visited twice.  He received a grant to travel the world and catalog all the poetry film, videopoetry and cin(e)-poetry archives that exist. Tom Konyves was the first to coin the term “videopoetry” back in the 1970’s while he was making a slew of fascinating, experimental videos and is soon to publish his report..

From 2008-2010, it was clear to me that cin(e)-poetry, as an art form and genre , was maturing in many circles.  New festivals screening poetry-based works on an annual basis were taking hold in So. America and India while poetry festivals in Berlin and Vancouver continued to grow and evolve.  A new web-streaming portal called poetryvisualized.com was becoming the “youtube of poetry-based films, videos and animations.”  While many old streaming sites have gone under, poetryvisualized.com  seems to be going strong and is adding new videos everyday.

Another important sign pointing to its maturity are recent publications out of major educational institutions.  Along with Dr. Stuart’s positive report on teaching Cin(E)-Poetry to a new generation of English teachers, there is a new book by Dr. Martina Pfeiler of Dortmund Technical University in Germany, titled ‘Poetry Goes Intermedia’.  This brilliant, nearly 300 page book chronicles the way poetry has seeped into media over the decades and how poetry has become more prevalent in American culture than anyone realizes.   Former poet laureate Prof. Kevin Stein of Bradley University recently published his book titled ‘Poetry’s Afterlife’. This book “surveys the current state of American poetry, traces how we arrived at this point, and suggest where we’re going given technological innovations in the ways poetry is written as well as distributed.”

"Perhaps no one has done more to fuel the interaction of poetry and film than digital artist and filmmaker George Aguilar." -Kevin Stein, Poetry’s Afterlife:  Verse in the Digital Age (University of Michigan Press, 2010). 

Looking Forward

Looking back, I certainly feel that my early efforts promoting cin(e)-poetry has helped make it a globally accessible genre that is taught at a variety of institutions, screened at established and new festivals and widely accepted on the web as a viable filmmaking genre.  One needs only go to Youtube or Poetry Visualized.com to see the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of videos that qualify as cin(e)-poetry.  The winner of the highest award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010 is described as “cinematic poetry”.  More books on the subject are slated to appear over the next few years.  My goal was to get it out of San Francisco, and Herman’s dusty office, and into the arms of those who would create new work, write about it and show it to new audiences.  There it would continue to grow and thrive in ways that would be lovely and unexpected.  I believe that in the same way people are looking for healthier food in their diets, cin(e)-poetry is health food for the mind. It’s a genre that counters the mindless, empty films and videos that permeate throughout popular culture.

As a Cin(E)-Poet and technology artist, I’ve become disappointed and disenchanted with the direction the web has taken.  What once held a lot of promise for artists, poets and filmmakers has now become a ‘cloud-like’ structure that tracks buying, surfing habits in order to find trickier ways to sell people junk.  Jackass videos and celebrity-driven drivel is regularly profiled in news coverage and violent, sexist laced machinimas and videos are glamorized and promoted globally.  Software programs that once existed freely on the web no longer exist and websites licensing and paying for an artwork has shifted to marketing contests that trick artists to create work for corporate interests for free.  What my alter ego Cecil Hirvi calls “the noisy externity” is really the noise of the web that drowns out anything of meaning.  It has almost become unbearable to surf the web through a haze of “pop-ups”, necessary updates, spam mail and websites tricking you into giving up personal information.  Watching films in HD on the web is still a solitary experience and with the growth in video streaming technology,  the experience of watching video is getting more difficult since the Internet was never designed to transmit all that media.

I suppose all things evolve. My latest cin(e)-poem is a collaboration with writer and poet Michael Ricciardi and is currently featured on PBS/Nova website. It's titled, "I am Evolution", and seems a fitting end (and beginning) to my 20 year relationship with Cin(E)-Poetry.

So what’s next for Cin(E)-Poetry and me?  I would like to take poetry back to its roots, so to speak.  I’m in the early stages of developing a flowering garden in my backyard. In this garden are solar-powered lights that I hope to convert to audio-emitting devices that whisper poems among the flowers.  I am working with motion-detectors attached to small projectors to illuminate misty areas of the garden with text-poetry and imagery.   My goal is to create a garden that comes technologically alive at night, whispering sweet poems or painting words/images among the leaves to make you think about your place in the universe. Think of it as a green cin(e)-poetic garden. 

Wish me luck!

This site contains examples from workbooks in progress and should be read in conjunction with viewing our demo video.   If you do not have this free video, contact us at 415-267-4887 or email George@Aguilar.com Copyright 2010