Poet Nicelle Davis on motion graphics and videopoetry

cover of Becoming Judas by Nicelle DavisIn a wide-ranging interview with Nancy Chen Long for Poetry Matters, California-based poet Nicelle Davis waxes enthusiastic about the benefits of collaborating with artists, animators and filmmakers:

You’ve also done collaborations with Cheryl [Gross] and others on trailers/motion graphics for your books, including motion graphics for five poems in Becoming Judas, trailers for both Circe and your upcoming book The Circus of You, and a video poem “The First Hour of Being Buried Alive in the Walls of a Half-Built Cathedral.” The idea of video poetry and moving/motion poems is fascinating. What kind of responses have you been getting from those who “watch” your poetry? What has been the most surprising thing for you about making these?

ND: Motion Graphics are great! Great!

As the famous Shakespeare quote goes, The play’s the thing. I couldn’t agree more. The “play” of twenty-first century is the Motion Graphic; these films allow multiple artists to gather and return to their roots—to a place of performance. The Motion Graphics feel like pure art to me; they are so collaborative by nature that no one person is in control; in this way, such projects are as terrifying and exhilarating as live theatre. I feel so grateful to live in a time when artists from across the globe can virtually gather to create a very tangible performance of art, poetry, music, and dance.

The most surprising thing about making these films is how well people work together. Very serious artists are given a space to play, and they do play with diligence. This is a sort of work that adults rarely get to participate in—it approximates how, as children, we created imagined worlds together—it feels like falling in love, but without any of the complications.

I’m also surprise at how far the Motion Graphics travel: they have been shown in film festivals across the globe. My poems go places I’ve only dreamed of. I hope they are leading the way—teaching me how to be a resident of the world.

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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.