Erica Goss: Video Poetry Summer Camp for Teen Girls Wraps Up

Instructor Jen Gigantino demonstrating how to use special effects

Instructor Jen Gigantino demonstrating how to use special effects

Media Poetry Studio wrapped up its first summer camp on Saturday, August 1, with a screening of student films. Parents, friends and members of the arts community watched the eight short films our students created over the two weeks of camp. The students, who ranged in age from eleven to sixteen years old, were on hand to answer questions about their work.

In spite of the technological aspects of making videos (cameras, editing software, etc.), everything started with paper and pen. Each student received her own hard-bound journal, and spent much of each day writing. During the mornings of the first week, they worked with me on generative writing, and in the afternoons, they attended classes with MPS co-founder and Santa Clara County Poet Laureate David Perez, who introduced them to film techniques. The girls made their first video, using haiku they wrote on the first day of camp, by mid-week. After that, we focused on writing the poem each student would use for her final video.

The camp shifted in the second week to video instruction, and by the middle of the second week, we were in full film-crew mode. Students worked very hard to finish their films by Friday. Some finished early, while some students worked right up until the last minute of camp. The students who completed their films early assisted the students who still had work to do.

Camp curriculum included a number of guest speakers and instructors, who taught students topics that ranged from spoken word to 2D animation. Our highly talented and dedicated staff consisted of instructional aide Elaine Levia, poet Lucia Misch (spoken word), Jennifer Swanton Brown (MPS co-founder and poet-teacher), Jen Gigantino (video special effects) and the team of Annelyse Gelman and Auden Lincoln-Vogel (animation).

We held the camp at the Edwin Markham House in San Jose’s History Park. The house is the headquarters of Poetry Center San Jose, and its location in History Park gave our students a wide range of filming opportunities, from the house itself to the park grounds, which include more historic houses, a train, covered wagon, and gardens. The park is adjacent to the Japanese Friendship Garden, which we made use of for field trips.

Each video was decidedly individual, reflecting the personality and interests of the girl who made it. Our students expressed their feelings about the future, about struggles with control, the idea of home, having time to themselves, and the pressure they feel at school. Each video reflected the unique thoughts and vision of the maker. No two were alike.

David Perez, Jennifer Brown and I are very pleased with our first Media Poetry Studio camp. We’re already planning for next year! We will run another camp next year, and would like to add an advanced camp for this year’s students. We are grateful for the support of the video poetry community and our funders. We could not have done this without you.

Visit the MPS website’s About page for more photos. Three of the girls’ films are on the front page, and we reproduce them below as well.

Written, filmed and edited by Emilia Rossmann.

Written, animated and edited by Maggie Gray.

Written, filmed, animated and edited by Carol Liou.

Erica Goss

Erica Goss is the Poet Laureate emerita of Los Gatos, California. She is the author of Wild Place (Finishing Line Press 2012) and Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets (PushPen Press 2014). Her poems, reviews and articles appear widely, both on-line and in print. She won the 2011 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Contest and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2010 and 2013. She writes The Third Form, a column about video poetry, for Connotation Press. Please visit her at ericagoss.com.

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