“I like how pithy the video poem can be”: an interview with media maker Marie Craven

Marie Craven by Ali J.This is the 17th 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 time we talk with Marie Craven.


1. Would you briefly describe the remix work you have done based on poems from The Poetry Storehouse?


MC:
I have a history with media-making but the video poem is a new form to me. I’ve put together four so far, based on wonderful poems by Janeen Rastall, Nic S., Michael A. Wells and Derek J.G. Williams.* Enticing readings by Nic S. feature. Images are from that marvelous source of historical film footage, the Prelinger Archives. Music is from talented online friends: SK123, 4our5ive6ix, Anguaji and Dementio13. Each of the videos has thus been a collaboration between artists on three continents: USA (poetry), UK (music) and Australia (video). The pieces I’ve put together are all less than one and a half minutes long. I like how pithy the form of the video poem can be.


2. How is The Poetry Storehouse different from or similar to other resources you have used for your remix work?


MC:
I have previously spent time on poetry websites but none so attractive to creative remixing as the Storehouse. The two major advantages of the Storehouse to a remixer are: (a) everything is published on a remix-friendly Creative Commons licence; and (b) there are excellent voice recordings available for easy download on the site. On top of this I’ve found a warm and inclusive attitude to remixers. The Poetry Storehouse is great!


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)?


MC:
Selecting a poem for a video has been a combination of personal response to the writing and practical considerations relating to available media. There are so many poems at the Storehouse that would be interesting to remix but in some instances suitable images or music are elusive. These are uncontrollable aspects of the process. The main advice is simply to make a voice recording available for download. That’s number one for attracting remixers. Well-recorded audio with good levels is a plus.


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? How does sound play into the picture for you?


MC:
In the videos I’ve made, the poem and the voice recording have come first in the process. After that I’ve searched for music and images that might work with these. The mood of the music is, of course, very important. Aside from this I look for music with a key and basic beat to fit with the pitch and general rhythm of the spoken words in the reading. I then like to cut and place the voice to fit with the music before cutting images. Working with archival film material means spending a lot of time searching and viewing films, looking for both literal and lateral connections between poem and images. Once selected, the images become a new rhythmic element in the mix and that involves further fine cutting and adaptation between the elements.


5. Most Storehouse remixers are video-makers who combine a poem with video footage and a soundtrack, but all in very different styles. What have you learned from seeing how other remixers work?


MC:
I’ve seen some wonderful videos in my short time exploring the world of The Poetry Storehouse. The main thing I’ve learned is that there are a lot of possible approaches to video poetry and that each remixer has a ‘voice’ of their own.


6. Is there anything else you would like to say about your Poetry Storehouse experience (or anything related)?

MC: I found my way to The Poetry Storehouse via Jutta Pryor and her Pool creative group on Facebook. Jutta, like me, lives in Australia and has recently generated quite a burst of creative exchange on Pool between Storehouse poets, video makers and musicians. This crossover between creative groups internationally has inspired me to participate too. I’m thankful to Jutta, Nic S. and all involved for the experience.


*She’s actually up to seven video poems now (the interview was conducted a week ago). View all of Craven’s videos on her Vimeo page.

Nic S.

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