This is the fifth in a series of interviews with poets and remixers who have provided or worked with material from The Poetry Storehouse, a website which collects “great contemporary poems for creative remix.” This interview with filmmaker Marc Neys (A.K.A. Swoon) shares a remixer’s perspective.
1. Would you briefly describe the remix work you have done based on poems from The Poetry Storehouse?
MN: If I recall correctly, both “Telegram” and “Today is your advocate” were your typical “Swoon approach”: first creating a track, getting ideas for images—”Hey, that one might fit perfectly!”— while doing so. If the track is good and the basic idea and feel of the chosen footage (originally intended for other projects in both cases) fits, they create themselves, really. I follow my gut and the flow of the poem/reading/sound to put the images right.
“Sweet Tea” was another story. I made a video (making use of an old experiment from way back) first, but it didn’t do the job. The track was right on from the beginning, but the video? It took a completely different approach—working and experimenting with photos—to make something I thought worked well.
2. How is The Poetry Storehouse different from or similar to other resources you have used for your remix work?
MN: It’s the same in the sense that there are poems (some of them I like, others not to my taste) and there are often fine readings. But it’s much easier in the sense that I don’t have to go through the whole process of finding and getting in contact with the original creators. Though sometimes I do miss that contact. Often a similar contact forms after the video is released, so that’s a good thing.
It’s a fine place to go to once in a while to check what’s new and see if anything “clicks.” I remember doing the same with the Qarrtsiluni issues…but there I had to ask the poet if it was OK to use their work for a video.
3. What specific elements do you look for when you browse offerings at The Storehouse (or, what is your advice to poets submitting to The Storehouse)?
MN: I’m very much a browser. Are there titles that jump out, certain lines that hit me? If that’s the case, I go looking and listening for a reading. I like my poetry audible, so I suggest much more “good” readings, recordings and voices! I know that not every poet is a reader, but getting their poems read out by someone else with a good voice, someone with a great (or even new) interpretation…and if they like their own reading, record them and send that together with the texts.
To me, that’s the whole idea: poetry is great, but should not exist solely in the form of words on paper. It might expand their view of their own work if poets and writers would read their works out loud more often, or get others to read and record their words.
4. Talk about how the remixing process comes together for you. For example, does your inspiration start with a poem, or with specific footage for which you then seek a poem?
MN: Both. Sometimes it’s a word, a phrase, a whole poem that makes me create a soundscape that then leads me to imagery, sometimes I have a track and images that “need” a poem…anything goes. I go with the inspiration of the moment. Take my pot of coffee, open up the computer and see where what leads me. That said, I put a lot of time into my soundscapes, and I believe they are the mortar between the bricks of words and images.
5. Is there anything about the Storehouse process or approach that you feel might with benefit be done differently?
MN: Not that I can think of right now. Well, maybe invite more “voices”—actors, poetry lovers, people with recording equipment who want to give it a try, radio people with a love for poetry—to record the poems and /or get the poets to do so themselves also…
6. Is there anything else you would like to say about your Poetry Storehouse experience (or anything else)?
MN: I still think it’s a great idea, and realized in a good-looking and easy-to-use site. Let it grow. Hopefully, more and more creative people will find their way to the Storehouse, and not only poets with their poems (though, without them, of course, no Storehouse :-)). Being not the greatest writer myself, I love the fact that we can create new things with these existing poems. It opens up the way I look at words, and perhaps makes the writers look differently at images and at their own writing. And in the end, the collaborative process of creating these videopoems, with and on top of creations by others, is enriching for everyone involved.