Showing posts with label videopoetry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label videopoetry. Show all posts

Saturday, April 30, 2016

'Split Mask' videopoem published in CrossBridge

Split Mask is a political poem. It is an interlaced, layered, multi-media piece that took 3 years to complete. It is about dictators and refugees, about the masks we wear, what the torn mask hides and reveals. It is about what I hear on inside of the mask.

My performance videopoem has been published in the inaugural issue of CrossBridge, an International Journal of Multidisciplinaryand Progressive Research. It's on page 21. The journal looks wonderful, and I'm honoured to be included. (The link will open a free PDF of the journal on-line; there is also a print version that can be purchased.)

direct link: Split Mask

Dr. Robert Caine sent an email responding to my submission to their journal, CrossBridge:
Your creative and artistic video is layered with powerful and thought-provoking messages that truly gives your viewers much to contemplate regarding an array of global issues....Again, thank you for your accomplished work.
Another comment that I received that I thought offered insight into Split Mask was from my friend, John Oughton, who I first sent the finished version to for feedback:
It's hypnotic. That prismatic beating heart, the overlays, the found stills and videos of suffering in Syria, the voice full of feeling... it made me realize that the split mask is a portal, not a disguise, a way to how everything/others are broken themselves, split from peace, from safety.

The story of how Split Mask arose and developed from a single burning image:

In the spring of 2013, an 'image' appeared in my mind of a 'split mask', and it obsessed me. Thinking I would have to build a mask from scratch, I put off constructing what I saw so clearly in my vision. But I found a cardboard base at an art store. I ripped it roughly and, with masking tape and cotton wading, papier-mâchéd it with white glue and water so that it was strong, and painted it white.

After the mask was made, I was compelled, in the way the muse compels, to write a poem so that I could create a performance piece wearing the mask for poetry readings. The poem was beating on the inside of my head and gave me no peace until I began to write it. The poem, 'Split Mask,' took a year to write, and went through a number of readers and poetry workshops until it was honed to the version here. The poem was completed in the summer of 2014.

In the meantime, I had a solo show at Urban Gallery in Toronto in January and February 2014. I needed one more painting for the show. For 3 days, just before New Year's, I turned my computer and phone off, and painted a 5' square painting, a self-portrait of the split mask and the art skeleton wearing the yellow lace that I stored it on. Earlier that fall, I had had one of those 'visionary' moments - I saw a large canvas with a diagonal mass of gold rising. 'Split Mask' is a copper and metal gold leaf, charcoal, graphite and acrylic painting and was ready for its early January 2014 installation.

In the summer of 2014, I was memorizing the poem, Split Mask, for a poetry feature at 100,000 Poets for Change in Toronto. I set up a video camera and performed it in front of the painting. This rehearsal became the core of the performance videopoem you see here.

Asked to feature at a fundraiser for a Syrian Refugee put on by the United Church in Toronto, I decided to show some of my unpublished videopoems. I made a very rough cut of Split Mask, adding war footage I found on The Internet Archives. Note: although I began writing the poem the summer the dictator of Syria began using chemical weapons on his own people, nowhere in the poem does it mention him or Syria specifically. The poem, rather, refers to these issues in a more universal way.

Wishing to complete the Split Mask video, a friend offered me a deadline to present it at a private poetry salon in January 2016, and so I locked myself away for weeks producing it. I added a number of effects. Looking through an old hard drive, I found various photo shoots in the split mask taken over the years (I use myself as model because I'm free - can't afford to pay actors or models). I also had an echocardiogram done in 2014, and obtained a medical CD of it because I wanted to use it in a videopoem - it was challenging, but somehow I transferred some footage onto my Mac (the medical imagery is Windows-based). I woke one morning knowing that I had to use that footage in Split Mask. The echocardiogram clips are untouched: the blue is blood from my veins, the red is oxygenated blood pumping out through my arteries, the pace is the actual pulse of my heart.

Split Mask, then, is a layered poem and performance videopoem.

I have a chapbook, Performance Poems (Epopeia Press 2016), with the poem, 'Split Mask' that I sell at videoperformances around town. Please contact me through my website if you would like to purchase the chapbook:

Friday, March 07, 2014

Ink Ocean: A Video of a Live Performance with Images and Videos from the Gulf Oil Spill Added.

It's my birthday, and I won't tell you how old I am, but I did get this video finished finally. The last step was subtitling it, and got that done by 11pm. I worked long and hard on this video of a performance I did at Urban Gallery on January 30th, and hope you take away something of the sadness and outrage over the Gulf Oil Spill and what we are doing to our world even as we have to continue loving in an increasingly polluted world...

direct link: Ink Ocean

Brenda Clews performs her poem, Ink Ocean, live at Urban Gallery in Toronto during a Performance Poetry Salon she organized there during her Poempaintings show in 2014.;

John Oughton plays his electric guitar with his magic box of sounds:

All the extra clips (except for the drawing, see below) are from public domain video and photographs of the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill in 2010.

'Ink Ocean' is about the oil spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 when nearly 5 million barrels, or 210 million gallons, of crude oil were spilled into the sea due to an explosion of an off-shore drilling rig. It remains the largest marine spill in the history of the petroleum industry.

Over 5 months, hydro-carbon eating bacteria devoured 200,000 tons of oil and natural gas in the Gulf, and then stopped. Despite the massive cleaning efforts by the oil industry and governments, and the efforts of the bacteria, as of 2012, 40% of the spill remains in the waters.

This prose poem began as writing in an ink drawing (included in the video, the actual drawing is pictured in the credits). It took 6 - 8 months to finish, and was revised in preparation for a reading in 2012. It is an experimental poem structurally. A poem of utterance, of cross-currents and paradoxes. It is composed of different voices, and perspective shifts. The crude oil spilling in the ocean forms words. The poem arose out of a drawing in black ink, an ink that became a central shifting, drifting, writing, spilling, seeping metaphor in the poem on the oil spill.


Saturday, July 06, 2013

Video: Two Poems by Linda Stitt from her, 'Acting My Age.'

Here are two poems from Linda Stitt's, 'Acting My Age,' and read by her at her poetry book launch at Portobello on April 13, 2013. At 81 years of age, she remains a beautiful woman and poet who I am honoured to know through her ongoing series, Portobello Saturdays, in Toronto.

In the first scene, Ann-Marie Boudreau plays an Oscar drum while Linda reads. Ann-Marie's music and voice is something I could rave about too.

Two astounding women artists!

direct link: Poems by Linda Stitt from 'Acting My Age.' (note: I'm now using another of my YouTube accounts to host my videos of poets, musicians and artists)

I'm a guest poet this afternoon at the lovely Portobello Saturdays that are hosted by Linda Stitt and Peter Solmes. Poetry, jazz, a lovely restaurant with good food, it's always such a pleasure to go to this event.

995 Bay St., north of Wellesley on the East side, from 1:30pm - 4:30pm.

Because of my feature this afternoon, I went searching through my video footage and thankfully found some I'd taken of Linda's launch last April. A little video I put together - it's just over 2 minutes.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Nik Beat @Videofag

direct link: Nik Beat @Videofag

A clip of Nik Beat performing a poem at Videofag in Kensington Market in Toronto on March 16, 2013. A live performance. Videoed and edited by Brenda Clews.

This one is a complete enough poem that I added it to my videopoetry playlist at YouTube, and am tagging it as a videopoem.


Friday, August 31, 2012

Test clip for 'Palmistry, a Psalm'- an underlayer

direct link: Test clip for 'Palmistry, a Psalm'- an underlayer (another unlisted videopoem of 46sec)

This is a 46 second snippet of 5 minute clip of the writing of the whole prose/poem on parchment paper to see if it would fit on the final painting, and I think I will make the clip the underlayer of the video, what is returned to again and again as an underlying metaphor amidst many more layers, a greater visual complexity. My intention is to include images of the hand: an x-ray, a painted hand, a real hand, a hand wrapped in a black brace. And the painting in its stages and the final with the writing. Also, some other public domain footage. The final 'video painting poem' could take a few months to finish.

Here's a blog post with the prose/poem, a recording, and images.

The sounds of the pen? Moi. The beautiful bird song, however, is from Alban Lepsy's album, Relaxation Nature vol.1.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Photos taken from video on Palmistry, a Psalm

Today I did video a writing of Palmistry, a Psalm onto tracing paper on the painting. This was a 'dry run,' and the prose/poem will fit. It took hours to set up the space, moving couches, and a marble coffee table (on felt, but still), stapling canvas over my couch to the wall, two cameras on tripods, long time adjusting them over and over, lighting, and so on, including putting that playful kitten in the bathroom, she mewed but was ok, and, well, I'll see how some of the clips might work in a videopoem. Here is a digitally-played-with photo from the shoot.

In the videoing today, yes, I did begin to rip the poem, it was irresistible. It was, though, written on test paper. This is not a digitally-played-with photo. Lol.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Comment Thread on Tangled Garden

direct link: Tangled Garden
Tangled Garden is a triptych of nature poems (by me):

-A Floral Opera (2011)
-In the Hands of the Garden Gods (1979)
-Slipstream, the Tangled Garden (2006)

(with impromptu speaking between the poems, which each end with ~~~ in the subtitle track.)

Beautiful singing by the musician, Catherine Corelli from her album, Seraphic Tears (2010) (with her permission).

Note: This video is subtitled. Click on the CC on the play bar to activate or de-activate the subtitles. YouTube will also automatically translate the subtitles into 25 languages if English is not your main language and you would like to get the gist of the poetry.

Swoon (who is a brilliant filmmaker who makes video/filmpoems of other people's poetry [only once his own writing that I know of]. Click on the link to explore his ever-expanding repertoire.)

This is ambitious. Brave. I find it too long to digest is one take, but in smaller doses (altough maybe you didn't intent it to be taken in like that) I find it by times mesmerising. The colours and the shifting movements and all those layers do work. They take the piece to another level. I do see what 'body of work' (and hours) must have gone in this. That itself is something to bow for. That said, personally I find the piece as a whole leaning too much on the same techniques. That works for me, as said earlier, in smaller portions. But please don't notice these remarks, because in doing it like this you made a highly original piece, that, when drawn into it can take someone to another place intirely. But when not drawn into it, it feels like staring into some psychedelic lightfeature without the trip... In the end, I guess, it's about opening oneself up to it. That works, for me, only sometimes. But when it works...boy, it is a magnificent journey.
Best, M.

A torrent was unleashed in my response:

I thought poets and painters would have less trouble with this video than filmmakers. The single, long cut over 22 minutes would be anathema to a filmmaker.

Yet, and you well know I can create videos with many different cuts and visual action, why did I choose to produce a videopoem of one long cut?

This is a central question.

In my own answer, I find a rebellion against the fast, clippy, zappy commercial, though I do recognize that commercials are created by great filmmakers all over the world. But they are promoting products and need to be 'busy' to grab the viewers attention.

I have no such needs. I can make something that satisfies my deep inner needs. If you, or anyone else, finds it long and dull, that's not my problem. The video is exactly the way I want it to be. I am content.

As a long time meditator, focusing on one thing for great lengths of time is not an issue for me. A single clip slowed to 22 minutes is reaching into the meditative mind, the deep undercurrent of our consciousness.

You want to be busy, busy and run, run, and can't. You can turn the video off, or watch in palatable bites. But it won't speed up or become visually active. Tangled Garden is the opposite of a pinball machine. It is intentionally diametrically opposed to the bustling, busy life.

One can either take the sustained meditation, or they can't. I have added a few extras, the figure that appears and disappears in the second and third poems, the unmasking at the end. So there is movement, some pinball motion.

The main focus, and where there is movement is the vegetation of the background. This is the star of the film.

The earth.

All three poems are about the earth. Yes, I am a woman, as a woman I approach out of my own subjectivity. The earth is imaged as a strange mother. The earth gives us life and recycles us back into new life when we die. Nature is one huge mass of copulating organisms and plants, full of a sexual, creative energy I call the "green fire."

My muse the earth, the great earth mother, is imaged as a vegetative women, that figure is almost horrific, death become life, mulch of leaves and grasses and floral colours rising from the forest floor. A slow dance. Have you seen the Alexander McQueen dresses made of twigs, brome, leaves, flowers? I saw them after I had made this film and was delighted, amazed. I'll dig them up and show you on Facebook.

While McQueen's vision of an earth goddess is more like a Shakespearean sonnet, mine is more chthonic.

While it was entirely unconscious, with the paper mache mask I had made and the dance in High Park with my daughter nearby offering protection to the space I was moving and unlayering in a psychic sense to, and the editing, a process of pure magic, editing is always this, I was shocked to realize that the figure in Tangled Garden is the same figure that emerged in a dream (which the second poem is about) that I had 30 years ago!

These ruminations and thoughts and explorations of Nature that are expressed through the three long surreal poems in Tangled Garden have been with my all my life.

I lived in an African jungle until I was nearly 7, in Zambia in what was then the largest game park in Africa, beside the Zambesi River, 200 miles from the nearest town. We had a compound of mud huts.

So the jungle is very deep in me, and the video, despite being made in Canada in a city, contains the richness of the tangled gardens of my whole life.

It is a strange, surreal world that seems to be evoking intensities in people. Some seem to really love it and it has been called a 'magnum opus' - and it is, for me it is. And others, like you, have difficulty with it.

Yet the reasons you give, dear Swoon, and I do appreciate your struggling with this long art film, are ones I knew would be problemmatic to some while I was working on it, and yet, the meditative mind won out.

When you meditate long enough, the tangle of thoughts eventually stills and then you can hear the singing of the garden of the earth.

Thanks for your long and detailed comment - I think my work must strike a special key because when you respond it's with a mixture of yes and no, a complexity of diagonals and opposites that I appreciate.

Look at what I've written in response! You're evoking a response that is certainly of more depth than normal.

You are my teacher, and I continue to learn through our discussions.


Brenda, Thanks for this explanation. And yes, as said before, it's good you did this exactly the way you felt it needed to be done. That is what makes it great (even if some, like me, find it hard to take in) I think that's what good art must be...a personal statement regardless of what 'others' might think about it.

So thanks. Thanks for sharing this. This work, these thoughts and this personal addendum.

Just keep exploring and doing exactly what and how you want to...

Best M.

This comment thread occurred February 8 - 10th, 2012, at Vimeo. Swoon's comments posted with his permission.

These are the Alexander McQueen dresses I was referring to in this comment thread.... aren't they beautiful. The flowers and foliage are real, and were apparently quite something to see since they were wilting, drying out, in the process of decay, and hence quite a fashion statement on the ephemerality of beauty...


Thursday, December 15, 2011

London Poetry Systems features my videopoem, Voicings

My videopoem, Voicings, was featured on L|P|S! I'm delighted! London Poetry Systems writes: "Each month one video makes it onto the Systems homepage." It's here, on Vimeo: The YouTube upload is embedded below. (It was actually one of the rehearsals ::smiling:: I thought to upload different versions at different sites. ::smiling:: The final version is here.)
London Poetry Systems is an open cross-media poetry platform. This channel is an archive of cross-media poetry. Check out the featured videos and if you'd like to know more about what we do, and/or contribute in some way, please visit the Systems at:

Voicings by Brenda Clews

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Sunday, December 04, 2011

Video Poetry: Voicings

Voicings by Brenda Clews

Besides reading it at a poetry event last week, I videoed 3 rehearsals, and memorized it for this videopoem of Voicings, a prose poem that I wrote some years ago and revised recently. This poem also made it to the top of SoundClick's Poetry charts in 2007.

Is there anything wrong with the lowly poetry reading? Attending poetry readings is one of my favourite activities. Perhaps that enjoyment carries across. With my own videopoetry, when I perform a piece, it garners more views than my videos of imagery with a voiceover. I cannot do it - show myself - without a sense of humour, though.

However, for once I didn't obscure the realism of the camera and instead allow myself to be seen. The reading is virtually untouched footage straight from the camera.

My fascination with multiplicity, multiples remains, though. Nodes, modules, events, thoughts, memories, everything is intersecting, widely missing the connection, intwined, separated, in the flow together or opposing each other. Vectors pulse everywhere in an ongoing processes of embodiment, momentary materializations.

We are layered, enfolded. I am composed of at least two, and usually more. My dopplegängers often show up in my videos; sometimes they get carried away and dance the words of the world. Ventriloquist, yes, but the main figure speaks and she, the double, explains. Like captions. Or perhaps she is the emotion within the words. The spirit fighting to get out. Anyway, she takes over at the end, dancing, and some of the colours and shapes remind me of ancient Sumerian myth, and Polynesian spirit charms.

She is Semiotic, rhizome, an off shoot of the woman speaking of words in a worded world.

That is a solid silver Sari wedding belt that I am wearing as a necklace. I only wear it on special occasions.

Likely I will spend hours subtitling this, but not now. So here is the prose poem:


voices, buzzing paths, the expanse we walk through, dark, hoverings in the distance like our hidden thoughts, climbing the insides of our minds, echo chambers, repetitions, stress points, gasps, retreats, revolving around and around, circling,

spinach and feta cheese and pink salmon, sanpellegrino limonata, juices, absorbing, digesting, flowing to all cells, hollow drums, rain sticks beating on the inside, slipped discs, swollen tissue, torn hearts healing,

voices, fragments of conversations, hearing pathways, following lines of letters, words randomly interspersed, little collections of refuse, humming things, what's being said and what's being thought at variance, then laughter,

a music, endless conversations in all minds in all places, air, water, land, cities, streets, buildings, rooms, film and tv and computer screens, talking, echoing, blaring, string-theories of words accompanying the world’s activities, thought flying through words, fleshed words, graced words, like balls flying far beyond the baseball bats in the floodlit diamonds, and racing, running, billowing in the green grass blue sky up into outer space,

billions of conversations, no stopping, the telling, others, ourselves, reams, skin of naked words, a love of words, conceptualizations, significations, words that are real, sensual, rolling, synaesthetic experiences, how our tongues love to form sweet angry hot explanatory seductive smart gossipy sophisticated kind compassionate judgmental searing truthful words for speaking, writing, dreaming,

and when yours and my words meet, from my lips to your ears, from your lips to my ears, in the air trance entrance  ringing cymbals  crystal singing,  guttural, ethereal,  whispering, our longing, who cares what we say, ecstatic light levitating, our tongues interlinking, ruby flame of our bodies, our
hearts speaking,

Also, I composed the background soundtrack in GarageBand.

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