The Art of Poetry Film with Cheryl Gross: “Forgetfulness”

poem and voiceover: Billy Collins
animation: Julian Grey of Head Gear
part of a series produced by JWT-NY

We are brought into the reality of forgetting what we once enjoyed. What was once important, now a memory… at best.

Sometimes I feel guilty writing a good review. I assume my readers prefer to be forewarned concerning a video poem that is sub-par so as not to waste their time. I know I do. There are times when I will forgo watching a film or reading a book that was panned in the media. But when I stumble upon a work that I believe is worth noticing, I can’t help but sing its praises. Such is the case of Forgetfulness by former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins.

Forgetfulness is a visual treat. Animator Julian Grey of Head Gear employs the old-film technique that gives the video an overall feel of nostalgia. Technically the video appears to rely quite heavily on its use of masks. This helps to make images disappear and assists in building movement, thereby contributing to its fast pace and timing.

Grey incorporated a small amount of animation, which blends in very nicely. I like to call this method altered video. (Perhaps I am coining this phrase because I Googled it and there doesn’t seem to be a concrete definition. Well, at least not where Google is concerned.)

I love the overexposure and pastel colors that are anything but soothing, giving the video an almost creepy feeling.

The poem reminds me of growing older and losing the memories we once had. Lost are the stories, words and events that have slipped out from under us, barely a memory at best. I can’t think of a more gentle way of addressing a part of life that is inevitable.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Cheryl Gross (website, blog) is an illustrator, painter, writer, and motion graphic artist living and working in the New York/Jersey City area. She is a professor at Pratt Institute (where she received her MFA) and Bloomfield College.

Her work has appeared in numerous festivals and publications as well as gracing the walls of many galleries, corporate and museum collections.

“I equate my work with creating and building an environment, transforming my inner thoughts into reality. Beginning with the physical process, I work in layers. I am involved in solving visual and verbal complexities such as design and narrative. My urban influence has indeed added an ‘edge’ to my work.”

Cheryl has often been compared to “Dr. Seuss on crack.”


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