Poetry + dance

Today’s post at Moving Poems, The Lovers by Dorianne Laux, is equally a testament to the imagination of the director, Bob Lockwood, as to the performers: great care has obviously been expended on both the filming and choreography. Lockwood says that the video is “an amalgam of takes of two rehearsal runs.” Having three female dancers take turns reciting the poem worked brilliantly to universalize the very personal, intimate subject-matter of the poem, I thought. The only way it might’ve been improved would have been to have made them wear masks.

“The Lovers” joins a small number of other very impressive offerings in Moving Poem’s Dance category, which several people have told me includes some of their favorite videos on the site. Perhaps the best-known of these poetry-dance videos are the ones for Anne Carson’s series of lectures in the form of sonnets, filmed by Sadie Wilcox, but the approaches to filming, choreography, and integration of text are diverse and also very multicultural, including Iranian, Burmese, Indian and Swedish poets. Together, these videos should serve to remind us that poetry has been a part of multi-media productions for millennia, as dance, drama, and/or musical performance. From this perspective, the merging of poetry with film or video is simply the latest manifestation of a very ancient impulse.

Dave is the founder of Moving Poems, and posts videos for his own poems (along with lots of other stuff) at Via Negativa. Here's a bio.


  1. I agree, masks would have been interesting. I liked the beginning, before they started speaking, when their arms were flowing in a wave-like pattern. It helped to establish a sort of universal “I.” I would love to know what Dorianne Laux thinks of it. The dancers physically showed the complexities of emotions in the poem. Funny, I just read a poem last night byLucia Perillo called “Four Red Zodiacs,” in which she describes how Baudelaire “couldn’t stand what sex did to the face”. I guess men AND women have their issues when it comes to looking at their partner during sex.

    • I think what some find unsettling about the face in ecstacy is that all masks come off. And a face that isn’t a mask is almost not a face at all.

      • I think you are right. Masks. Do you have a theater background, Dave? (Still love the Carson sonnets. I am so inspired by those. It is the kind of work our students do at school all the time.) Totally OT – I bought the Stephen Fry book, it came today and I can’t wait.

        • Not really, though I did spend six months studying Noh chanting and dance when I lived in Japan. (Let me know how you like that book.)

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