We want to widen the reach of poetry by filming great performances in unique locations.
Poetry Observed is like a music video, but for poetry.
We bring together gripping performances, offstage locations and thoughtful direction to produce short poetry videos.
Here's an example:
That was "Flatland" by Sam Cook, Director of the St. Paul Soapboxing Slam team. In Minnesota, we were privileged to shoot poems by Sam, Sierra DeMulder, Khary Jackson, Neil Hilborn, Michael Lee, Dylan Garity, Lewis Mundt, and Kait Rokowski.
However, we had severe budget and time constraints. For our New York series, we've spent the past year building our vision and our next lineup of poets.
We'll be featuring all-stars of the NYC poetry scene like Jeanann Verlee, Jared Singer, and Sarah Kay (see the full list below). Here's a taste of what's to come:
We will produce ten videos of ten different New York poets. We'll work with each poet to capture one of their best poems in an authentic setting. These videos will be distributed for free online through our website to reach the widest possible audience. We will also produce DVDs, an illustrated chapbook containing all 10 poems, and a screening and discussion kit for use by schools, libraries and other venues.
Where does the money go?
- Permits for great New York locations
- Sound and camera equipment
- Web development and hosting for poetryobserved.com
- Festival submission fees
- Promotions and building partnerships with media outlets
- Compensation for the film crew
- Food for everyone during filming
- And, if possible, doing something for the poets, because even though they've agreed to do this for free, we'd like to compensate them for their time.
Our goal is to share incredible poetry performances with as many people as possible, especially those who don't consider themselves poetry fans. We want the first video that shows up in a Google or YouTube search for a poet's name to be a beautifully shot poem.
There are already great poetry videos being made by Motionpoems and Billy Collins' Action Poetry, and we want to pioneer a film style that works as well for performance poets as animation does for page poets. With your help, we can bring poetry into the mainstream, with people watching on YouTube, at festivals, in movie theaters and on TV.
Thanks so much for your support. We couldn't do this without you.
-Todd and Hannah
Jeanann Verlee is an author, performance poet, editor, activist and former punk rocker who collects tattoos and winks at boys. Her first full-length book of poems, Racing Hummingbirds, earned the Independent Publisher Book Award Silver Medal in Poetry. She has represented New York City five times at the National Poetry Slam, and is currently the director of the three-time champion Urbana Slam.
Watch a video Jeanann Verlee performing here.
Jamaal May is the author of Hum (Alice James Books 2013), winner of the 2012 Beatrice Hawely Award, and his work has appeared or is forthcoming in New England Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Callaloo, Indiana Review, Blackbird and Verse Daily. Jamaal is the 2011-2013 Stadler Fellow at Bucknell University where he hosts a poetry slam and acts as associate editor for the lit journal West Branch.
Watch a video Jamaal May performing here.
Jared Singer is a poet and audio engineer who lives in NYC. While he may have physically grown up with his peers, he has never forgotten the imagination, magic, and nerdiness that were corner stones of his childhood. He has appeared on multiple National Poetry Slam final stages with both the Urbana and Nuyorican teams, and his work can be found in journals such as The Legendary and Union Station. He is also the co-creator of Kiss-Punch-Poem, a show that combines poetry and improv comedy.
Sarah Kay is a poetry writer and reader, a spoken word poetry teacher, the founder and co-director of Project V.O.I.C.E. with Phil Kaye, a best-selling author of the book B, and an editor for Write Bloody Publishing. She has spoken at the 2011 TED conference and performed on HBO's Def Poetry Jam.
Watch Sarah Kay's TED talk here.
Thomas Fucaloro is a veteran of the NYC poetry scene. He is the author of Inheriting Craziness is Like a Soft Halo of Light, an editor for Uphook Press and Great Weather for Media, and a newly inducted candidate for an MFA at The New School for Creative Writing. He is a member of the 2012 Intangibles slam team.
Watch a video of Thomas Fucaloro performing here.
Corrina Bain is a genderqueer artist, activist and educator whose poetry on page and in performance is fueled and informed by his past work in a detox center, an abortion clinic, a rape crisis hotline, and as a volunteer educator responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Mozambique. Corrina has performed on four National Poetry Slam teams, and his work can be found in the poetry journals Danse Macabre, decomP, Killauthor, PANK and Muzzle.
Watch a video Corrina Bain performing here.
Joanna Hoffman has been on five National Poetry Slam teams, as well as a competitor in the Individual and Women of the World Poetry Slams (WOWPS). She is a member of the Spoken Word Almanac Project, and is on this year's Urbana slam team. Her work has appeared in decomP and Spindle among other journals, and her first book, Fences, is forthcoming on Sibling Rivalry Press.
Watch a video of Joanna Hoffman performing here.
Jon Sands has been a full-time teaching & performing artist since 2007. His first full collection of poems, The New Clean, was released in 2011 from Write Bloody Publishing. He is Director of Poetry Education at the Positive Health Project (a syringe exchange center located in Midtown Manhattan) and has represented NYC in multiple National Poetry Slams.
Watch a video Jon Sands performing here.
Phil Kaye has appeared on NPR, performed at Lincoln Center, and most recently coached and performed on the 2011 Providence National Poetry Team, ranked third in the nation. His first book, A Light Bulb Symphony, was published in 2011, and his work can be found regularly in CHAOS Magazine. As the full-time co-director of Project V.O.I.C.E. along with Sarah Kay, Phil travels to colleges and high schools to perform his work and teach poetry workshops.
Watch a video Phil Kaye performing here.
Catalina Ferro is a new voice on the NYC poetry scene. She has been a member of New York City's 2009 and 2011 Group therapy groups and was awarded the titles of "Worst Attitude" (2009) And "Miss Congeniality" (2011). She is a member of the 2012 LouderARTS Slam Team, which she hopes will be kind of the same thing.
Watch a video of Catalina Ferro performing here.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.