Given that I am from the
African-American subculture where questions are used to intimidate, oppress
and confuse, it is rare that I enjoy either conducting interviews, or being
the subject of them. However, independent and direct in his manner,
and radiating empathy (without being precious or solicitous), Bob Bryan
interviews his subjects in an unforgettable manner. Cool yet excited,
all in the same moment, he is asks frank, inoffensive questions of genuine
interest. At times his questions are startling, because they force
the interviewee to assess and summarize quickly, leaving very little opportunity
for " B.S.". He does not arouse suspicion, and does not give
off the impression that he has some hidden agenda other than the subject
at hand. Because of his careful research, he asks questions that
have not been asked 100 times before. (In my case, he asked about how I
think! This seldom happens.) This does not mean that a Bob
Bryan interview is easy. It is not, because, in my case, it demanded
that I do some sharp and quick thinking on timeworn-and-worry swollen feet.
Bob Bryan may not know it, but he asks consummate "clean" questions,
questions that are free of the sociological garbage of assumption, implication
and innuendo - questions that told me, in my case, that he was open to
what I had to say, and that if he had any preconceptions, he was keeping
them to himself. The Bob Bryan experience is lean, comfortable and
professional, and one of the best I've ever had.
---Wanda Coleman, Writer, Poet
The Graffiti Verite’ Documentary Series
GV6: The ODYSSEY: Poets, Passion & Poetry
Featuring 31 Contemporary Poets
The Complex & Compelling Face of Poetry
A Bob Bryan Film © Copyright 2006 Bryan World Productions, LLC.
Bryan has captured on DVD / film the inner lining of the poet’s soul. Thirty-one featured poets paint their spiritual word-paths, bringing us along with them until both the poet and the audience converge onto Bryan’s lens. Even if you close your eyes and listen only to the audio, you will hear the symphony of poetic cadence, rhythm and pulsing spirit rising from each line, each image, and each note. Listening to the spoken word removes the prejudices of stringent, suffocating parameters of syntax and pushes you out beyond the fringe of academic paranoia, opening your senses to the intricacy and complexities of experiences as they explode or whisper to your own soul, drawing you into the poet’s voice. Poetic visuals rise off the page, fill the lungs of the poet, ooze out their chest, spilling across the screen. Studying poetry academically can fill your head with words, with rules and metered portions of life – but as we see in this poetic masterpiece, expressing your soul's voice is Poetry that is lived.
Even if all you took away from GV6: THE ODYSSEY: Poets, Passion & Poetry was enjoying the poetry of Askew, Beychok, Bradley, Brandler, Byrne, Campos, Cavat, Chang, Clough, Coleman, Constantine, Daaood, Daly, Danielsen, Dobbs, Dumisani, FrancEyE, Goldman, Hoffman, Dr. Thea Iberall, Kim, Lecrivain, Lummis, Mankerian, Masuda, Mullen, Natal, Rodriguez, Taylor, Thompson, Tseng or Weekley, I would tell you to make sure you buy a few more copies to give as gifts, because this poetic kaleidoscope would be a treasured gift for sure. With Bryan’s gifted direction, the “Poets, Passion & Poetry” segment of the documentary series is much more than poetic genius or a sound-scape of poets reading their work, it is a necessary educational tool for all poets, beginner or seasoned. This should be on every reading list in Middle School grades on to Graduate Level Fine Arts Majors.
The words of wisdom passed on under the section titled: Wise Words of Encouragement from the Poets should be heard by anyone who has ever held a pen or tapped a keyboard, hoping to satisfy the drive inside to press their feelings, their thoughts, their vision onto the page or screen. A very gifted poet, Dr.Thea Iberall shares her expertise on Contextual Poetry and Brendan Constantine, another brilliant poet, illuminates the history of Chapbooks. The light that Dr. Iberall and Constantine shed on these topics are important for all writers and they do a remarkable job of showing rather than telling, thereby drawing the audience into their experience.
As Publisher/Editor of RoadHousePress, poetry columnist for motorcyclegoodies.com, editor for the Poets’ Corner column in Connecticut Cruise News Newspaper I recommend that you not only place this on your Holiday Shopping List, but that you encourage your schools to include this in their Fine Arts or English study programs. Personally, I will keep this copy on hand for my own spiritual development, as Marcielle Brandler advises “Go on your own path and do it the way that feels right to you… poetry is something you want to create from your soul.”
For further information or to purchase a copy of GV6: THE ODYSSEY: Poets, Passion & Poetry or to see the entire documentary series:
Executive Producer / Director
Bob Bryan, BRYAN WORLD PRODUCTIONS, LLC.
P.O. Box 74033, Los Angeles, CA 90004
Please Visit the Graffiti
Verite’ Website: www.graffitiverite.com
and their Passion
By MarySusan Williams-Migneault
© copyright October 2007
Listening to your Plath-like devotional,
watching the vapor that you are,
I realize that—
my mother would have called,
but there are no pay phones in purgatory.
I wonder if it’s true—
that jazz plays on in hell;
maybe witches do indeed ride motorcycles.
I will find out soon enough.
You can add just about anything to pancakes,
if you sing while you stir
and you hold nothing back,
remembering to sift salt from sand.
If you shout your laundry list,
does it wipe the slate clean?
We are all adopted says Gibran
Guess it didn’t work out so well,
for Christ … or me.
The Odyssey: Poets, Passion and Poetry
Features: 31 Contemporary Poets
Producer: Bryan World Productions, LLC.
Publication date: 2006
Length: 72 minutes
An innovative, energetic approach to poetry.
Talented director, Bob Bryan, has in my opinion successfully encapsulated the expertise of thirty-one award winning contemporary poets, whom expose their heart and soul in this exceptional DVD. GV6 The Odyssey; Poets, Passion and Poetry is a lyrical treat for both the eyes and ears. I guarantee it won't fail to uplift and encourage you to put your own poetic imaginative thoughts down on paper. And if you don't know how to start what better place than here.
Suitable for students, established poets or those who are just curious, this is an inspiring documentary. It's fun enough to be entertaining and informative enough to educate. These talented poets offer excerpts of their work, and insights into their personal life, which cover a variety of topics. These include their reasons for writing, the force that drives them, their love of language and freedom of expression. As they share their artistic struggles, frustrations, the discipline required and even the stigma that comes with being a poet, this reviewer sensed their collective creativity and honesty just leap from the screen!
I found this DVD akin to a feel good movie, even though it was a documentary it had a celebratory, yet down to earth feel. These multi-ethnic characters all have diverse backgrounds but share one common goal – to express themselves with a passion and excitement. And it's catching. To be honest, I never thought a documentary on poetry could be so visually pleasing and stimulating.
Special features include 'What is Contextual Poetry?' by Dr. Thea Iberall, Poet, 'What is a chapbook?' by Brendan Constantine, Poet and also the contact information for all 31 published and respected poets. Please take a moment to click on the link below to read about each author.
Link to poet bios:
Embracing alternative views of alternative books, spoken-word audio CD’s, Instructional DVD’s, music, audio learning courses and interactive learning kits. Includes review blog, competitions, newsletters and author interviews. Fiction or non-fiction; if it has an alternative theme, you’ll read about it here.
Viewers who already love poetry will be grateful to have so much solid poetry at hand and hear it read so well by its creators. Those new to poetry or unfamiliar with the art will get a gentle and stimulating education.
High school and college
students, as well as adults, should respond well to the film as there is
so much here to discuss and explore. The bonus features include complete
readings. Recommended for all collections.
Poetry lives here!
—Ernest Jaeger, formerly with North Plainfield Pub. Schs., NJ
Review of GRAFFITI
VERITE' 6 THE ODYSSEY: Poets, Passion & Poetry
Part One, Part Two
This captivating documentary takes an in-depth look at poetry and why people write. Viewers are grabbed from the onset by the eclectic, passion filled voices of those interviewed. As the poets share personal and heartfelt testimonials about what they do it appears that poetry is about survival of the human spirit.
A diverse group of artists from all dimensions and backgrounds take you on individual journeys that explain, define, and capture what it means to be moved by sheer spiritual force to move words felt in the heart and head onto the page. We learn from their stories that sometimes the effort to write is painstakingly difficult.
We find that one has to dig deep in order to reach the core of translating a feeling, vibe or funky emotion that can’t be shaken and that sometimes, the only method of exodus is to ‘get it written.’
The Odyssey works as a teaching tool for educators as well as edutainment for those seeking a closer look into the world of poets and poetry.
Well done, how soon before GV7?
Imani Williams, Writer
‘Voices from an Urban Bush Sistah’
Review of GV6 THE ODYSSEY
by Mindy Nettifee, editor-in-chief Getunderground.com
April is, as "they" say, the cruelest month. April
also happens to be National
Poetry Month, which is kind of appropriate, and I think
T.S. Elliott would
These days, (I know, I actually started a paragraph that way, again) the art form of poetry is no longer certain in its standing, either socially or artistically. Neither are it’s torchbearers, the poets themselves, who are either relegated to the status of secular pope (Maya Angelou), underground art hero (Saul Williams), or mime, and we’re talking street mimes, not the well-paid Cirque de Soleil version, (which pretty much covers everyone else). I’m going to take a leap and say this is because of poetry’s reputation for being boring, corny, or obscure, and with poets’ collective reputation as pompous unbearable prats who speak with the cadence of a Beat caricature. Since I’m not even cringing as I write this, I’m pretty sure that reputation is largely deserved. (Cruel?)
So thank the gods for GV6 The Odyssey: Poets, Passion and Poetry, because while the GetUnderground readership is made up of the kind of people who love a good poem over beer and triscuits, the world, at large, is not. This new documentary from producer Bob Bryan is a well-conceived and well-edited conglomeration of interviews with 31 poets, none of whom are boring, corny or obscure. On the contrary: the 31 poets interviewed span ethnicities, gender, age and creed and are, every single one of them, eloquent and funny and profound. (Peruse the list of all 31 at the end of this article.)
In addition to being delicious, GV6 The Odyssey is also nutritious. As an educational tool, it spans the subject thoroughly, covering topics from why poets write and how they write to how poems work and what makes the art form relevant and necessary. Woven together, Bryan ’s interviews with all the poets become an in depth conversation about the meaning of poetry and the meaning of life.
The weaving works. The interviews are cut with excerpts of the poets reading their own work, and the excerpts are cut with video images that serve as dynamic illustrations of the poems themselves. It’s all refreshingly good. These days I can barely sit through an open reading without wanting to play the drums on the chair in front of me or gouge my own eyes out, and I was engrossed the whole way through. So let me just get to the point: if you teach high school or college English and are afraid to discuss and teach poetry with your students, just skip the rest of this article and go directly to http://graffitiverite.com and order this DVD. And if you are not a such a teacher but know someone who is, order this DVD and give it to them. That’s how I feel about the educational quality of this documentary. The only downside is that there are no outtakes or blooper reel. (There are a few great special features, though.)
Moving on to less important points, some of my favorite parts about GV6 The Odyssey (without quoting like a maniac) are as follows:
If you live in or near Los Angeles, you can see GV6
The Oddyssey on the big screen this month as it tours around.
I personally recommend making it to the Saturday,
April 7th show at The Found Theatre in Long Beach . The show
starts at 8pm and tickets are $10. Learn
more or make a reservation here. Click
here for information on other upcoming tour dates.
And as promised, GV6 features the following poets, (in alphabetical order):
"Hi again Jerry, I just
have to say ONE MORE TIME how much I like / love the dvd.. I've actually
bought quite a few (ahem!) books, cds, dvds etc from myspace 'friends'
which has been great, but this one takes the biscuit. It's such a bloody
good idea. Wish someone in the Scottish poetry scene would produce something
I've watched it a few times now, and feel quite close to the people - I love them all. And, I really like your voice ... it packs a punch. And your words too of course, are great. I'm passing it onto a couple of friends for them to enjoy....
Hmm thanks for bringing this into my life! "
GV6 THE ODYSSEY DVD Directed by
Graffiti Vérité Website: (www.graffitiverite.com)
Reviewed by G. Murray Thomas
The Odyssey is a powerful and varied introduction to modern poetry. Through a combination of interviews and poetry excerpts from 31 SoCal poets, it presents a complex and relatively complete picture of what poetry is. The poets include provide a diverse overview of the poetic talent in SoCal. Among them are Elena Karina Byrne, Jeanette Clough, Wanda Coleman, Kamau Daaood, francEyE, Thea Iberall, Suzanne Lummis and Richard Weekly.
Thank heaven the DVD isn’t as breathless as the press release. “These Poetic Artifacts are likely the Magical by-products of countless hours of disciplined rewriting and soul-searching. This complicated and fastidious process has evolved to a point where each and every passionately inspired word is contemplated, weighed and juxtaposed. Every published ‘word bubble thought’ threatens to be a near-perfect embodiment of that sublime aha birth-marked moment of sublime revelation.” Whew!
Luckily the poets in the video are much more down to earth in their discussions of poetry. They treat poetry as something both magical and everyday. If the video shows anything, it is that poets are eminently qualified to discuss their craft, because they do so poetically. That is, obliquely, rather than trying to hit it squarely.
The Odyssey attempts to answer the great unanswerable question: What is poetry? One of the best definitions I have heard (from one of my college professors) is “the art of saying It [whatever It may be] in other words.” The poets in The Odyssey define poetry by talking about it, without ever actually trying to define it. By circling around the core of what poetry is, they give a fuller picture of poetry and its power than any flat, direct statements could. Perhaps Brendan Constantine say it best: “Life cannot be described as effectively as it can be embodied.”
The movie is shot and edited both creatively and effectively. The structure works well, interspersing the poets’ comments with excerpts from their poetry which illustrate their points. Critically, the complete poems are included as a bonus feature.
The poets are artfully shot in their “natural environments”—offices, classrooms, living rooms and bedrooms—in such a way that the backgrounds offer further glimpses into their character. Also included are images of their respective book covers, which works aesthetically and as an aid to finding their works, if your curiosity is piqued.
Among the bonus features, in addition to the complete poems, are little featurettes on Contextual Poetry, by Thea Iberall, and What is a Chapbook?, by Brendan Constantine. Both are informative sidebars, although perhaps the video medium could have been used more effectively had Constantine actually demonstrated the construction of a chapbook. There are also little words of advice from the poets. These are all good supplements to the issues raised in the movie itself.
The question arises, who is this movie’s intended audience? One obvious answer is teachers and students. Much of the discussion concerns, directly or indirectly, the teaching of poetry. It would make a great video both for teachers to watch, to get ideas on their teaching, and to show in the classroom. (I assume that possible classroom use is the reason for the rather arbitrary censorship in the movie: “Shit” but not “shat”, “fuck” spoken but not printed.) This video would make a very powerful teaching tool, both for stimulating discussions of poetry, and for providing some strong examples of modern poetry.
But I believe this video would work well with a larger audience, namely anyone with a passing interest in poetry. To be honest, I don’t see it capturing the attention of someone who’s already resistant to poetry. It starts with an assumption that poetry is interesting, and doesn’t struggle to grab its audience’s attention. But someone who is already curious would find its revelations fascinating.
In the end, director Bob Bryan has created a thorough
and intelligent introduction to the workings of poetry today.
—G. Murray Thomas
G. Murray Thomas is best known as the editor of Next... Magazine, a poetry calendar/newsmagazine for Southern California. Next... Magazine was published monthly between 1994 and 1998. Thomas currently puts out the Next... Calendar, a monthly listing of poetry events. His latest project is MURRAY, a garage jazz/spoken word band. In MURRAY, Thomas performs his poetry over improvised musical backing. Thomas' first full length collection of poems, Cows on the Freeway, was published by iUniverse in 2000. He has also published four chapbooks, Death to the Real World, Opposite Oceans, Poetry Spilled All Over the Carpet and A Rare Thing. Thomas has performed his poetry all over Southern California, at almost every major poetry venue. He has also performed at Lollapalooza, The Whiskey, The Coach House and the 1996 National Poetry Slam.
The DVD (Graffiti Verite' 6 THE ODYSSEY) is an interesting collage of ideas and personalities that confront the craft of poetry from the perspective of those who practice it. The secret life of poetry, poets, and how they think, work and live, is confessed in a candid style that is sometimes funny, sometimes freaky and sometimes thought provoking. It has an educational feel and would be suitable for teenagers.
In the line up of talking heads there is an eclectic mix of poets, who range from the famous and experienced to the infamous and emerging. These varied perspectives offer vitality to the DVD.
In GV6 you will find 31 poets of varied ethnicities, styles and talents who speak their hearts, minds and passions about poetry. It is clear that poetry is many things to many people, and for some it is an absolute lifesaver. I was especially taken by the discussions in the kitchen with a huge fake spider in the background (Brendan Constantine). Like I said, sometimes freaky...
An impressive quality to the DVD is the honesty of the project and its intent, and the candidness of the poets. No Hollywood face lifts or flattering lighting, no fashion fests or adolescent sniping, a simple gentle reverence for poetry. I hope that the target audience is won over. As Kahlil Gibran once said, 'poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.' Graffiti Verite'6 shows us that this is still a very current view.
Review by Richard Wilhelm /
Emily Dickinson famously said that real poetry made her feel as if her body were so cold no fire could ever warm her or as if the top of her head were taken off. For Johnny Masuda, “Poetry is about kicking your fucking ass.” It amounts to the same thing. All poets strive to write the poem that shocks the reader into awareness, changes the reader in some way, expands a reader’s consciousness. This documentary is a tapestry of 31 voices talking about their views of poetry, what inspires them to write, and their process. I’ll state my one criticism of the film and get it out of the way: one wishes more time were spent with fewer poets so that the viewer got to know several poets and their ideas about writing more intimately. But, as with criticizing a sumptuous seven-course Italian meal because you just can’t eat everything, it’s not the worst of complaints.
Of the 31 poets interviewed in the documentary, only Wanda Coleman and Luis Campos were familiar names to this reviewer. Happily, that is no longer the case. Many fine poets are featured in this film though space does not allow listing them all.
Kamau Daaood describes the writing process as a process of self-discovery, a “looking outward, and a looking inward, looking out again and looking in.” “I’m talking to me, the me that exists in my imagination,” says Wanda Coleman. She says that, for her, the poem is often written before she sets it down on paper.
FrancEyE talks about writing as self-discovery. “I don’t know who I am and I want to find out.” She adds in the bonus Words of Encouragement feature: “You are the only person who ever was, or will be, you.” Chungmi Kim also describes poetry as a search for oneself. She feels that anyone can join in the process, adding that English is not her first language but that she has discovered the joy, the necessity, of trying to render her experience of life into language. Regarding language, Elena Karina Byrne notes the similarities in usage of children, schizophrenics, and poets: “They all use personification, synesthesia, imagery, and different types of poetic language. When a child bumps into a chair, he may say ‘The chair grabbed me.’ Poets want to say that kind of thing.”
“The power of poetry lies in its ability to lift the spirit, to reveal, to make life shimmer with vitality,” says Rod Bradley. Bradley seems a kind of a Keith Richards of poetry, gesturing gracefully with his hands as he speaks, a la Keith, and conveys the impression of having worked at his art a long time. “I don’t feel I have talent sufficient to what I’m feeling but it allows me to try to grasp this thing and, in the end, I feel like I understand something—I don’t know exactly what—a little better. It’s an act of discovery.” He advises poets to be “fearless. Write without fear.”
The 31 poets featured are a diverse group ranging widely in age
and ethnicity. Nineteen are women. Most seem to be West Coast poets but
there are folks from other areas as well. Many indicated that they also
teach. Brendan Constantine observes: “I think that children are
pretty much in a state of shock from the time that they are born until
they are about 21, which is why so many of us spend our early adulthood
deciphering what happened in our childhood.”
The DVD includes as special bonus features: Wise Words of Encouragement From The Poets; Complete Poetry Readings By The 31 Poets; What Is Contextual Poetry?; What Is A Chapbook?; and Poets Contact Info.
The DVD is a stimulating film about poetry and the writing process and a great introduction to some lesser known but compelling voices. Yes, it is a sumptuous feast.
by Richard Wilhelm /Ibbetson Update (Founder Doug Holder)
Bio: Doug Holder, Location: Somerville, Mass., I am the founder of the Ibbetson Street Press of Somerville, Mass. I am currently the arts/editor for "The Somerville News," and the director of the "Newton Free Library Poetry Series," in Newton, Mass. My audio and video taped interviews with contemporary poets are archived at Harvard , Poets House (NYC) and Buffalo University libraries. My articles and poetry have appeared in The Boston Globe, Small Press Review, Cafe Review, Rattle, the new renaissance, The Harvard Mosiac ( Harvard University), Poesy, Main St. Rag, Home Planet News, and many more. I currently host a cable access TV show: "Poet to Poet/Writer to Writer" , and I am on the faculty of Newton Community Education, where I have led poetry workshops for the past five years. My poetry was recently included in "Inside the Outside..." ( Presa Press) an anthology of American Avant-Garde verse. email@example.com
What is poetry and from where does it emerge? What is likened to this creative process? Is it spontaneous, not unlike any other form of creative art? How does poetry affect the poet, and what kind of feelings does it ignite in the reader? How and why does an audience identify with a poet’s personal associations imbedded deep within the poem?
The questions that attempt to identify poetry are but a focused attempt at identifying the creative process and its creations at large, what we generally refer to as ‘art’. Long debated has been the definition of art perhaps because the ambiguity of ‘quality’ seems as subjective as it is intuitively objective. How can there be a universally accepted definition of poetry when meaning is as much a reflection of self as it is of its creator? At the same time, there are large groups of people who concede that ‘this’ is poetic, and ‘that’ is not.
There are as many words endeavoring to define poetry and its creative process as there are poets. Yet poetry means so much to all of them. Bob Bryan has done his best to deal with these questions through his own creative endeavor, a film titled Poets, Passion and Poetry wherein words define them selves on two levels, audio as well as visual. Words are heard in the subtle and concise form of poems reflecting the infinite dimensions of poetic meanings through the dynamics of voice and tone, while images simultaneously allow a visual experience of how words are interpreted through body language. In addition, the 31 diverse writers share their poetic worlds by producing ‘scenes’ of their experiences during the precious moments of the creative process. Each poet delves into his/her personal vision of poetic meaning, including the roles external stimuli play in awakening internal associations, what meaning each derives personally from the creative process, and what triggers each to face conflict within and without by gathering his/her glimpses of life inside the boundaries of a known language and form.
This ‘poetic world’ is a very private world. Nonetheless, it reflects the world the poet dwells in and interacts with, but on a different plane. A poet perceives a ‘scene’ from a unique perspective, from different angles unseen by any commoner. The hubbub of mechanical ruts makes walking through these illusive doors of perception, existing on a deeper level in the realm of yet another dimension, extremely difficult. Wordsworth described poetic expression as a “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings,” but is poetry really just an overflow of feelings verbalized through words? The verbalization of every experience depends on two factors, association and word experience. And both factors are subjective. Besides this “overflow” is not ‘common’ nor an ordinary flow of words, but perhaps a ‘connection’ somewhere within between our intellectual, mechanical, emotional, sexual, and intuitive ‘centers’. Perhaps it is this unique and temporary connection that begins a process creatively compulsive and so full of life. Creation is pro life, a static expression of a living experience, and not merely an arrangement of selected words.
No doubt that poets are choosy about words, but words are only a medium for the recreation of a ‘scene’ perceived by the poet when he/she is ‘linked’ within. The intellectual center gathers and unifies scattered pieces of the ‘scene’, called ideas by some and impressions by many, supported by the mechanical center which keeps on bringing associated impressions to the fore. Meanwhile, the emotional center provides this intellectual exercise a touch of finer energies imbuing the poet with passion. When the poet is thoroughly ‘connected’ he/she may walk into the ‘spaces of time,’ reflecting glimpses of the unknown we call ‘insight’. The architectural and structural exercise is done by the intellectual center either in tandem with the verbalization of the scene or subsequent to the penning. Normally, the matter determines its own form in the course of being produced. Still, as the film clearly illustrates, poets have only their word experiences to choose from. These word experiences compel the poet to subjectively select words that best reflect their moment of ‘connection, vision, glimpse, insight, sense, or emotional realization.' The creative process is a continuous affair and the construction engineer and the architect inside the poet is actively present when the words appear. They play with words and let words play with them.
Normally the word should blend the scene with some kind of refined emotional energies that touch the mind, heart and soul of the reader. This is what causes the reader to identify with any one poem. At the reader’s level, the success of the poem depends on how a reader identifies with the scene that the poet has reconstructed through the poem. This seems like the very ‘scene’ the reader himself / herself was perhaps unable to perceive before with clarity or to verbalize thoroughly, yet the poet’s expression evokes an intense recollection or identification with the reader’s personal experience. Words may differ, but the mood is recognizable, the word experience may also vary between poet and reader, but not the underlying affinity of ideas and/or impressions. The clarity of the scene depends on how succinctly and distinctly one perceives. The extent of SEEING is the success of the seer. Producing the ‘scene’ as seen is the success of the poet in the seer.
One cannot extrapolate any objective truth from a subjective viewpoint, as no answer can ever transcend the periphery of questions. No truth can ever be pronounced final as ‘scenes’ are layered. These layers are the layers and levels of our awareness and from each layer shall appear a new realization, a new dream that is like a dream inside yet another dream. Without the possibility of complete objectivity, these layers may extend infinitely. Dreams, reality, realizations thus prove to be synonyms in this meaning. We can add ‘poem’ to these synonyms, subjectively. But this realization must not prevent humanity from continuing with the journey from one realization to another, from one dream to another opening up doors of perception at different levels, from different layers. Poetry epitomizes these dreams and perceptions as against the so-called day to day realities. Poetry verbalizes these impressions one may happen to register from a different layer.
No doubt that poetry has lost its appropriate place from the
lives of many. It doesn’t touch and imbue the heart and souls as it used
to once upon a time. The hubbub of modern days and its mechanical ways
have killed this precious ‘source’ of life. The hidden persuaders
of technology and its product have penetrated too far deep in the lives
of mankind, displacing poetry from its rightful place. Yet poetry continues
to survive this onslaught of technology. Technological evolution
represents one side of mankind’s growth, but it is not complete without
the evolution of another very important aspect of man’s growth. One
cannot evolve as a whole by emphasizing the material side of life while
ignoring the mind, the heart, and the soul. Poetry is one branch
of art that balances this shortfall of the evolutionary process.
The poets in Bob Bryan’s Poets Passion and Poetry
are a wonderful representation of the beating heart of this
creative evolutionary movement. Through the eyes of a man who is
trying to SEE and capture the ‘scene’ as seen by various
seers, the film transcends the rut of this every day life to explore the
‘spaces of time’ and bring the viewer glimpses of ‘reality’ from an
altogether different layer, gathering some scattered pieces into a unified
whole in an attempt to define poetry using poetry. This film is an
eye turned inwards to SEE from inside to inside a world that exists
beneath the surface of common perception. For me, the film proves
this point that poetry is still ALIVE.
Although this review is filled with so many of my own notions of meaning, of poetry and art, and of humanity itself, I would like to praise the producer of this film for his reliance on the evidence to give evidence, choosing not to narrate his own views, but to explore both creator and creation itself. Normally a film maker focuses on the basic ‘pleasure’ instinct of the viewer rather than stimulating the subdued WILL to MEANING which Bob Bryan has endeavored to focus on, in his own quest for meaning. This film is a documentation of the glimpses of this ‘poetic world’ wherein a poet feels at home, wherein a poet returns, time and again, to evaluate his/her reality. This film penetrates this world of poets and presents a seventy-two minute concise and meaningful account of this world through the very words of those who wander it. Those who shall derive any meaning will also derive pleasure and a subtle charge from watching this film, a definite by product of meaning.
The process of creating is the process of growing, the process of changing the inner value system, the process of living, and the process of defying death. Unlike history true art is not merely created by the victors, nor does it succeed to move humanity as a static document of events or propaganda. No, poetry is an art that gives new meaning and dimension to an old story, the story of mankind’s creative evolution, the story of the ‘other’ side of his destructive nature. In poetry mankind’s potential and essence survives, so long as the poetry survives.
Thank you, Bob, for adding yet another piece to this infinite puzzle
the poet continually strives to pull apart in order to fit together.
by Ashok Sharda
I was a Venice virgin……..until taken one night to a poetry event at Beyond Baroque, back when it was on West Washington Boulevard. Wasn't that a great introduction to Venice? It was Alice through the looking-glass, a whole different world, and this movie reminds me of the excitement and novelty of that long-ago arrival in an unknown country. What a piece of work is GV6: THE ODYSSEY !
Filmed in the intimate settings of the poets' own homes, or in natural surroundings, interview segments alternate with the reading of shorter or longer bits of poetry. There are lots of interesting, quite agreeable visual effects. The whole thing has an amazing unity, considering all the different places where it was shot. Bob Bryan and everyone else involved in the production did a hellacious job.
Of course, I'd be crazy about anything with Wanda Coleman in it. What I like best about GV6, in fact, is that it's packed with Venice poets. Coleman has been on the scene since the Beat days, and her poem "His Old Flame, Lady Venice" is definitive. There's photographer Rod Bradley - check out his business card from the early 80s, with the motto "Neither master nor slave." Luis Campos joined the original Venice Poetry Workshop in 1969. Steve Goldman has run Venice Poetry Readings in the New Library and the Old Jail. Jim Natal and Jeanette Clough do the HyperPoets reading series at the Rose Café.
Most or all of the other 31 poets represented here also have Venice connections of some kind, showing up time after time at Beyond Baroque and other venerable venues, leading workshops, publishing in the Free Venice Beachhead, and so on. The bearded witch of Ocean Park, francEye, is known as the female Charles Bukowski. Lynne Thompson is a self-described "recovering attorney," and Marie Lecrivain is "writer in residence at her apartment." For the most fascinating reader in the group, I'd have to pick Chungmi Kim.
The comments of the poets are grouped together by theme, suggesting that they were asked to elaborate on at least some of the same questions, but no questions are ever heard. The comments are made in such a way that knowing the questions is unnecessary. It's a technique you have to have tried yourself in order to realize how much skill went into the editing.
You can tell that one of the suggested topics was the relationship between poetry and dreams, and another, teaching the young. Several of these poets teach at the college level, others are or have been involved with introducing elementary school children to poetry. Steve Goldman speaks of the need to "evoke poetry from the kids, not to teach it." Wanda Coleman addresses young poets with some very interesting thoughts.
Brendan Constantine, who comes from a theatrical family, talks about how his father asked him the equivalent of "What are you going to be when you grow up?" Momentarily relieved to find that his son had no ambition to be an actor, the father was instantly dismayed when the answer proved to be "poet." How had young Brendan managed to hit upon the one career more hopeless than acting, where even the successful are bums, and the unsuccessful are something even worse?
This movie and its accompanying extras make up a motherlode of quotable remarks and observations. I notice this in particular because I collect quotations and present them organized by topic. Here's an example of my kind of quotation, from Shahe Mankerian:
"The minute that we have the notion that there is such a thing as taboo, I think the writer is obligated, and I underline that word obligated, to write about those issues."
Johnny Masuda, whose work is described as "not for the faint of heart," writes about stuff like being raped as a child. His demeanor can be offputting. "Johnny's the guy that you don't want to come knocking at your door at midnight, because he's not bringing good news." Still, he has nice eyes.
I have only one problem with this movie, and it's as insignificant as a freckle on the Mona Lisa's elbow, but I'm going to mention it anyway. The bleeping of naughty words is not only annoying but inconsistent. I heard a few rude ones with perfect clarity, and a couple of cusses are only partially bleeped. If the bleeping was done in earnest, it's not a very good job. If it was done in a mocking spirit, it's a miscalculation. The very fact that it's unclear whether the bleeps were added with satirical intent, should tell you something.
Is it federally mandated that censored words must be covered up by an extremely irritating and attention-craving audio cue? Couldn't some other sound be substituted - a musical chord, for instance, or even silence? The dreaded bleeps strike a jarring note, and detract from a splendid piece of work that otherwise closely approaches perfection.
For some reason, a recurring vision comes to me where a small group of teenagers gather before a TV, somewhere in rural America, to watch this movie. There still are towns without poetry workshops, and there still are vast distances between places. I can see GV6 becoming a monster hit not only among the urban literati, but among the young and hopeful who live in places where they feel culturally deprived.
Better yet, I'd love to see this movie exported on a large scale. Some foundation should buy thousands of copies and give them away overseas, to anyone who will take them. Let's get something out there to show that America is not all Miami Vice or Dallas, and that Americans are not all Rambo or Britney Spears.
I thought the DVD was really
well done. I particularly liked the diversity of poets, the variety
of voices, and the wide-range of viewpoints. I also liked the pacing
of the DVD--it seemed like you really thought about how to maintain the
interest of the viewer. Since pacing is also important in poetry,
it was interesting to me to see how pacing manifests itself in a visual
Victoria Chang, Poet
Many of my students are purchasing
my books and also the DVD, because of my poetry. Since they love my work,
they are encouraged to investigate more about poetry and poets. It's all
Hope to see you soon.
Nika Hoffman, Poet
Ascent Aspirations Publishing:
Member of the Federation of BC Writers
http://www.bcwriters.com/ Member of WAVE Publications Cooperative
Member of the Canadian Poetry Association http://www.canadianpoetryassoc.com
Member of the Canadian Federation of Poets http://www.federationofpoets.com/
Hearing all those great poems, listening to the poets riff on poetics, listening to dear Brendan explain (in the most concise way ever) what a chapbook is...it was just a treat to watch this DVD. This would be a great tool in the classroom, especially at the high school level.
Here's what I want to thank you for the most tonight: Actually "hearing" Suzanne Lummis. I love her work, but watching and listening to her in GV6 has turned me into a groupie!
Collin Kelley, Atlanta News Group
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA DREAMING: My trip to California in April is shaping up nicely and I just added another reading to my itinerary thanks to Larry Colker and the Redondo Poets. I'll be reading at the Coffee Cartel at Redondo Beach on Tuesday, April 10, at 7:45 p.m. This is such a cool spot and a fantastic reading run by Larry and Jim Doane and I always have a great time there.
Speaking of SoCal poetry, I watched the documentary GV6 The Odyssey: Poets, Passion & Poetry over the weekend. Featuring 31 poets riffing on poetics, the doc is a who's who of the LA scene. What a treat to see Suzanne Lummis read (I love her work, but had never seen her perform), the brilliant Brendan Constantine, Wanda Coleman, Luis Campos, Victoria Chang, Catherine Daly, Marie Lecrivain, Elena Byrne, Harryette Mullen and so many other amazing voices. The film was directed by Bob Bryan as part of his ongoing Graffiti Verite Series about everything from art to hip-hop.
Not only do you get to hear the poets talk about what poetry means to them...and the passion they have for the writing...but you get to see full, uncut readings of poems by each of the poets. Snippets are woven into the doc, but there is a separate section where you get the poems in full. Brendan gives a concise history of the chapbook in another featurette. This would be a perfect classroom tool for any teacher wanting to get their students into poetry. It's also a total immersion into the SoCal scene, which I love.
As a director, Bryan seems to have made all the poets comfortable enough to talk honestly about the creation of their work. I loved how Victoria Chang was so honest about her fears of writing too much truth and she wished she could be more fearless in her writing. Catherine Daly plainly admits she has no belief in god or the always elusive "muse", but finds the poems within herself. And I love how Suzanne tries to explain that unexplainable transfer of energy a poet gets when he/she connects with an audience during a reading. A "third thing" is created, she says, but like her, I've never been able to name it either. Perhaps it's just finding connection. Bryan's documentary does that for sure.
can buy the DVD at www.graffitiverite.com
or it's available for rent on Netflix.
I highly recommend it.
GV6: The Odyssey’s scope is epic, packing 31 poets into 72 minutes of film. This is its greatest weakness but also, in a manner of speaking, its crowning achievement—framing an engrossing narrative despite such a large assemblage. That being said, there is no one subject whose appearance I could do without, but many times found myself wanting a poet to elaborate on their answers (Luis Campos, for example). To be fair, the extras included on the DVD do provide further context.
Bob Bryan make the quick cuts—necessitated by the vast ground that he has to cover—often work to his advantage. The frenzied pace offers images, for example, of Brendan Constantine and Jennifer Tseng juxtaposed—Constantine’s boisterous enthusiasm for his subject serves to illuminate Tseng’s careful, sometimes self-effacing answers. When asked about the nature of poetry, Poet Steve Goldman boisterously offers, “Poetry is life and its avoidance is death” while Tseng tenders her answer: “An internal world”. And they are both absolutely correct.
Interviewed in often private spaces—Bob Bryan elicits candid, thought-provoking answers from his subjects touching on subjects from the personal to the public, the sacred to the profane, touching on elements of culture, family, love, language and self-perception, among others. The movie opens with the statement: “There is no one truth”. Throughout the rest of the film, this statement is echoed in the answers from a plethora of representative poets, whose experiences resonate from varied ethnicities, cultures and ages (although, not necessarily geographies, as the majority appear to be operating out of Southern California). The diversity of his subjects, as Bryan is well aware, serves only to underline and strengthen their similarities: their love of language, and their need to express themselves.
One minor quibble though: what’s with the censoring of words? I realize that this DVD, serving as a basis for beginning writers, is likely destined for the classroom but the censorship is intrusive and not necessary. In the course of the film, Jawanza Dumisani recounts the advice of one of his mentors, “Tell us what you want to tell us and just trust the language. Trust the language.” If there’s one thing this documentary makes an effort to understand, it’s that, if a poets says fuck, they mean “fuck”.
In answering the question “What is poetry?” performance poet Askew offers: “It’s like taking a big shit.” Truer words were never spoken, but their impact is diminished somewhat.
In the waning minutes of the film, South California poet FrancEye offers “Everybody is a poet. They just don’t exercise that part of themselves.” It appears to me that this is a statement Bryan wants his audience to take to the bank, but it’s one that rings particularly hollow–at least to these ears. These poets are not everybody, they are special—by virtue of their genius, their insanity, their egos, their introspection, etc. Some would argue that poets enjoy a privileged and enviable position, having the opportunity to express themselves and contribute to the shaping of American culture in contrast to most individuals who are more or less forced into the passive position of consumer–payment for books or DVDs being their only contributions.
But this, of course, is not what Bryan is after. The film’s message doesn’t play out in the big questions, ie “What is poetry?” or “What is the nature of truth?” but in its multitudinous and divergent answers.
Books publishes titles both online and in print. We present broadsides,
limited-run chapbooks, and perfect bound books of diverse literary forms.
As co-publisher of Ahadada Books, Daniel Sendecki currently serves as book designer and web editor. Most recently he served as Foreign Program Coordinator at Chonnam National University, in Gwangju, Korea. He currently resides in Burlington, Ontario.
I hear that a lot, and honestly, I can't say I believe it.
If you really think no one cares anymore, head over to Google, or whatever search engine turns you on (I prefer the easy ones, obviously) and hunt down web sites like www.pathetic.org, or look up a few e-zines and ask the editors how many submissions they receive in a given period, or head out to the fringe of publishing and see how many writers are kicking ass in the self-publishing field. It's nothing to get excited about, and it's probably not going to change the world anytime soon, but it will prove, if nothing else that poetry's in better shape than some people are saying.
And some people take a completely different route to keep poetry alive, like DVDs, which is one I honestly, for some strange reason, never envisioned as a means to the end of moving poetry along.
Again, I don't know why it never occurred to me that you could promote poetry on DVD. It might have something to do with the way the obvious almost never comes to my mind until it's entirely too late to do anything about it.
But I can't say for sure.
At any rate, that's pretty much what filmmaker Bob Bryan has set out to accomplish with Poets, Passion & Poetry, which is the latest and, according to Bryan, final installment in what has been a six film series dedicated to not only poetry, but to graffiti, and a more specific, focused branch of poetry, hip-hop. To watch even one is to watch a subject that the people involved are clearly immersed in. It's something they know everything there is to know about it, and it's something they want other people to know more about. So far, the series has done quite well to that end, with numerous festival appearances and awards, and positive reviews from just about everybody who's come into contact with it. And it's not difficult to see why, if Poets, Passion & Poetry, which is the one I'm dealing with here and now, has anything to say about it.
Running at about seventy-two minutes, with numerous special features, including complete readings from all thirty-one of the featured names, Poets, Passion & Poetry is an in-depth look at thirty-one different poets, from countless walks of life, philosophies, and personalities. It's not just limited to their own work, which is a major aspect of the documentary and one of its main points, to show you how wildly diverse and varying poetry can be. The documentary also intends to bring you closer to the poets themselves, something that is generally left up to a few words in a short bio on the back of their book. And this where the whole thing held the most interest for me. I love poetry, as it's probably pretty easy to tell, but what I like more, possibly, because I don't deal with it as much is direct contact with the poets themselves. I find that part relentlessly fascinating, to hear where the writer got his start, what brought him in, what keeps him going. I don't think it should be taken as personal gospel, but I do think there's something to be said for listening to your peers, your contemporaries and maybe, at most, using that opportunity to try adding something onto your own ideas and beliefs. The idea is to get you thinking about sides of poetry you might not have looked at before. Poets, Passion & Poetry brings out this opportunity brilliantly, offering more perspective than I think I've ever seen gathered in a single place.
And just so you know, the poetry's not bad either. There's some brilliant, brutal work to be found throughout. It's the kind of insight, intelligence that makes you wonder why these people aren't getting all of the credit they truly deserve. All of them had something to say, but some of them struck me in such a way that I had to seriously wonder why the hell these people aren't in the same regard as Bukowski, Angelou and the like. Of course, there's no guarantee that you're going to love every poet's work. But really, there's nothing about this that demands you do that. In my mind, lining up all these major forces in poetry is a lot like setting up a music festival. If you don't like the first act, well, stick around for the next one, because it's not going to be anything like the one you just saw, and so on. Personally, I found something good or, at the minimum, interesting, in every poet that came on. I can't guarantee watching Poets, Passion & Poetry is going to be like that for everybody, but I can almost definitely promise that you won't be bored. Director Bob Bryan is clearly aiming this at not just people who might be starting out at poetry, but people who have no real experience in the medium to begin with. I honestly think this is the group Bryan wants to approach most of all, more than the people who already have a rough idea of what Bryan's trying to express. I'm talking more about the ones I mentioned at the start of this, who don't think poetry has anything to say in 2006. Bryan wants to prove to those people that the truth of the matter is that poetry is as alive, vibrant, and vicious as it was in the days of Dorothy Parker and Anne Sexton. Thanks to his excellent, well-paced, well-handled direction, I don't think he's going to have any problem continuing to do this, as he's done with the previous five volumes.
This is an essential purchase for anyone who's either already well-immersed into the world of poetry, or someone who just wants to know what the whole thing is about. Bryan is a documentary director of serious, confident talent. He's the kind of guy you want to keep your eye on, because there's a very good chance that anything he happens to be involved with is going to make for an extremely worthwhile trip. For less than forty bucks, you get a documentary that's a prime example of how the phrase "No wasted motion" applies to a film, and you get an in-depth look at some of the most talented, underrated writers of this moment in time.
far as I know, you couldn't possibly ask for more than that.
--Gabriel Ricard is a Staff Interviewer at Unlikely 2.0. You can learn more about him at his bio page.
myainsel, chryslerpoet and I watched GV6: The Odyssey: Poets, Passion & Poetry last night, and it near-well did my brain in. The documentary is filled with excellent poets reading and discussing their work, including Harryette Mullen, Elena Karina Byrne, Jeanette Clough, Wanda Coleman, Brendan Constantine, Kamau Daaood, FrancEyE and Jim Natal -- many of my favorites.
Unlike a lot of documentaries and cinematic treatments of poetry, the discussion was deep and engaging. The poets all had widely different styles and backgrounds, and the overwhelming majority of the poems were excellent. Some of the poets weren't to my taste, but that's to be expected. I really only actively disliked one, and found a couple others dull. The rest were excellent. (There's also some cheesy interstitials that distracted a bit, but ultimately they prove forgivable.)
But more important was the discussion of poetry, hearing so many writers talk unguardedly about process, and about the role poetry plays and can play in the their lives and in the world.
I lament that the conversation about poetry at local readings is facile.
People don't talk about writing much. I think everyone who writes poetry
should watch this DVD. it gives a lot to think about.
---Victor D. Infante
Victor D. Infante His poetry and journalism has been published in dozens of periodicals internationally. He has recently completed his first novel, Nihilist Chic, and is working on a book on writing, How to Succeed As A Failing Writer, and his third screenplay, "The Ones That Got Away." He lives in Worcester, MA, with his wife, Lea. He recently published his eighth chapbook of poetry, Warhol Days.
At present, he is a copy editor for The Worcester Telegram & Gazette, a regular contributor to OC Weekly and a columnist for GotPoetry.com. He is also editor in chief of The November 3rd Club, an online literay journal of political writing.
“Poetry is about kickin' your fu*kin' a*s,” and so begins the 72 minute documentary (GV6 THE ODYSSEY) directed by Bob Bryan in which 31 poets muse about what poetry means to them and to the greater world around them. Some of the poets featured in this video are young, some old, some rich and some poor, with different creeds, beliefs and nationalities, but they are all poets. They read from their own books as we watch on, with images intermitting treating our senses as the words dance from their souls. The video takes the viewer on a trip through the poets psyche, revealing what makes them tick through such subjects as whether to be genuine or not, self discovery, apprehension, fearlessness (or not), inspiration, the dream scape, the muse (or lack thereof), and the interpretation of poetry. This information is exciting, educational and entertaining because it comes straight from the poet, no filter, in their words and actions, their expressions and their writings.
Quite simply, as a writer myself, my eyes didn’t leave the screen until the video ended. It was like nothing I had ever seen or had the pleasure of hearing such sound principles before. It’s hard to understand poetry from books or a classroom, but from the poets minds and voices themselves it all makes perfect sense. That is why this is such a great reference tool, because the poets are passionate, the art is real, and today, not from some textbook.
I think teachers will get a lot out of using this video to inspire their students, and to break through the walls that inhibit young people from putting pen to paper. To help students "discover" their poetic voice, because the main point I took from the video is that poetry is raw, it cannot be controlled or forced, and so the first and most important thing when teaching poetry is simply to get the students to put the pen to the paper and let what may come, come.
You don’t have to be a student, or teacher to find value in this great production though, quite the contrary. It is well put together, entertaining, with great cover art, and is a good reference guide for those of us who write, those who want to write, and simply those who may want to understand what poetry and poets are all about. To me there is poetry in a lot of society these days, specifically music, which is something that we all enjoy.
I highly recommend this video for anyone who has written a poem, would like to in the future, or who just wants to entertain themselves learning about the expression of the poet, which can transcend all form and meaning. I will watch it again and again because as a person, rather then a poet, I am constantly learning about expression, and that is what this video is all about.
-Chad Myers, www.strangeroad.com
Strangeroad.com encompasses the spirit of the counterculture, the artist, the bohemian, and the revolutionary all rolled into one. The inspiration for the site comes from places like San Francisco, New Orleans, Venice Beach, and Austin, Texas; From people like Jim Morrison, Jack Kerouac, Tupac Shakur, Hunter S. Thompson, and Che Chuervo. Basically, the spirit of the underground mixed with the vast possibilities of the internet.
The people of strangeroad.com are committed to the principals of artistic expression and the free flow of ideas. Our main purpose is to provide a venue where independent artists of every kind can display their work for a National audience, as well as a forum for the common citizen to express his or her ideas and opinions.
Executive Producer and Director Bob Bryan
A cyclone collage of images, words and ideas and of course humor. What poetry is; where it came from and where it may go? If its dead, alive or in transition? How many forms it has; if it needs one in the first place? Does any of it make the slightest difference?
All of these questions are asked and explored from a variety of poets. 31 in all give their expertise, share their experiences, from the inside out. This film at times causes tears, reveals hidden hypocrisies, small biting and beautiful glimpses of what may be called "Artistic Truth."
Who am I? "A Dialog with myself..." Wanda Coleman. What is it? What it should be? Not be? Art? Therapy? Clear, unclear, metaphor, feelings...something sacred?
Topics: Sexual Chaos, Nature -Loneliness, Patterns of Relationships, Oppressions and gangland and police responses, "...The Funk of Dreamless men...-- Kamau Daaood.
African Americans, Asian faces, Latina faces, mixed races, angry faces, Armenian voices, women, straight, not so straight, white people ...all tell their stories.
Taboos; deep painful emotions, attacking the past abuser, forbidden feelings... thoughts.
When can you write, where? How long does it take?
Poetry in the classroom... Who is it written for? The Elite? Every man / woman, dirty old men? "In Isolation I create phantoms...." Chungmi Kim
Who is a poet? Everyone ?
Reading them aloud
in public? "...something happens, vivid and alive- A sort of third thing
is created..." Susanne
"De nobis fabula narratur...Their Story is Our story..." Vicarious thinking..." --Elena Karina Byrne.
In the end, there are no conclusions, only their words... the poets speaking for themselves.
If you have an interest in poetry, curiosity, an obsession, watch and take notes.
Love, Peace and Knowledge
--Jack G Bowman, MA MFT
Reviews of my fellow poets projects and published works. Check out more of my reviews and interviews in www.poeticdiversity.org
There is a lot of information in this film and actually could be studied for a semester. One thing " I got " when I was done viewing the film was " just get it down and work it out later."
Thanks for letting me see view the film.
I really hope this is a useful tool for young and old minds."
---Janice M Frucci, Head of Vocational Rehabilitation, South Bend Indiana
Lessons About Life Through
by Michelle Angelini
GV6: The Odyssey: A Bob Bryan film
Take a journey with filmmaker Bob Bryan where 31 published poets give of themselves and their time to share with young less experienced writers. Each poet is unique in their craft and information, so that taken together, the dvd provides a sound basis for beginning writers. While being surrounded by language and events everyday, transforming life's experiences into an art form takes no particular skill except willingness and passion. This passion is what these poets share. As I watched the film, I found myself smiling and nodding when I heard something I learned in the past from verse writing seminars and from some of these poets whom I've had the pleasure of meeting at workshops and poetry readings. Yet, for as many years as I've been writing, I heard such a wealth of information here that it gave me a fresh viewpoint on my own writing.
Thirty-one poets, with unique styles, techniques, backgrounds, and poems, reach across societal boundaries. In this craft, language, passion, and emotions are the common thread tying the artists together. Although each may have a dissimilar way of expression, internal emotion leads them to a similar goal - getting it out of their minds and onto paper or the computer screen. Bob Bryan goes into the homes of most of the poets, so that the casual nature of the interviews makes the young poet feel at ease. While some of the poets read their work, brightly colored words flash across the screen – the content of the poem. Other poets' themes show outdoor scenes, family photos, or their books while they read. This personal glimpse allows the student to see the poet not only as a published writer, but also the person behind the poem. Many times students read the work of a published writer and feel what they've accomplished may be beyond them. But as the poets talk about their craft and share their advice and suggestions, young writers realize this isn't the truth. A single sentence opens the movie, "There is no one truth," and each poet proves it with the diversity of their ideas.
Some of the themes covered include culture, race, family, memories, performance, self-growth, nature, self-discovery, self-perception, language, and love. Yet, these are by no means the only topics the poets write about. Many of the themes blend to make a rich tapestry, uncovered only through the process of time and revision. The poems are self-journeys, which are freeing by their nature. The film is divided into chapters, covering segments of the craft students might not yet understand. And the poets do not by any means agree, giving credence to the quote about there being "no one truth."
If I have any criticism of the film, it is that the poet contact information flashes across the screen too quickly.
The Odyssey has so much valuable information, it is impossible
to process it all in one viewing. It should not only be shown in all verse
writing classes and workshops; it should also be part of the required material
for each student in these classes. Community college and University libraries
should have a copy of it, as the poets presented here are those to whom
the young student aspires. (end)
Poetry speaks in the language of the heart and soul, oftentimes with frank simplicity juxtaposed against magical lyricism. Most of the poets tell us what poetry is to them, and how they “teach” the writing of poetry.
As we listen to snippets of their work, they give us their jazz-wrenching,
slammin’, languid, and bone-cracking words. We can see, taste, hear, and
touch the experiences these writers give us. This documentary is truly
the only of its kind in the universe. I am honored to be one of the poets
included in this work. Groundbreaking!"
Marcielle Brandler, Award-winning author of The Breathing House: Imagist Poems
This production pokes a playful but honest finger in the chest of students while encouraging them to pour, bleed, and / or shout-out the answer into a poem.
In this 72 minute documentary, 31 Poets drop their egos and provide candid commentary on such subjects as a defining poetry, motivations, forms, and processes for writing. The general consensus being that through a 'search for self' and 'artistic discipline,' poetry offers a way of 'bleeding out' toxic infections (through a good ol' number 2) and cleansing them with bleach. Further, they suggest that the power of poetry is to 'lift up the spirit' 'by kicking you in the gut' and 'dragging you through hell' until you learn to stand and run. :)
Included are a number of bonus features for the young mind that wants further encouragement, seeks more poetry examples by the poets from the documentary, has questions regarding publishing, and contact info for the poets presented within.
Overall, I'd say educators are sure to find the hope they've sought...
to set young pens on fire."
---Deidre Elizabeth, Poetry Editor for Erosha & Verse Libre Quarterly
"Hey Bob! Man, I thought I was a genius, but you got me beat from here to Hoboken! Great work!
Of the 31 poets depicted in the film, I note with dismay that 30
of them are not me. "
---Steve Goldman, Poet
I was especially pleased to hear / see my work during the credits. The guitar during the ending piece was completely improvised, and i guess it turned out okay. thank you for including some of my material / ideas in the body of the DVD too. You managed to capture the insanity / sanity part of the mind with some great ideas from the poets.
I have shown it to some friends and family, and they all love it
-Very pro!!! "
---Jerry Danielsen, Poet
Poetry is for all of us and your voice is the perfect harmonic match
to the souls that sing their hearts out in this walk through their lives.
If you didn't grow after watching this film--you're already dead."
---Johnny Masuda, Poet
...And, say, that's great news that your work is getting so much
attention, so quickly. I'll be showing sections of it to my UCLA
Extension group on the last day of class, week after next. "
---Suzanne Lummis, Poet
How do you feel about it? Are you happy? You did a hell of a job? What's next? Vacation? Another film?
Wasssssssssup? Tell me, you GENIUS!
---Brendan Constantine, Poet
I actually found myself liking poets as a whole again. More later..."
--Marie Lecrivain, Poet
I was watching and came in to say a quick bravo===my self-criticism aside, I liked the variety of poets and what they said, the pieces of poems-- I thought the pacing was great too--very important in a doc film like that---the way sometimes the poets' statements spoke to each other--I haven't looked at all the special features yet, just bits, so tonight I will indulge in your genius / generousity.
...well everyone had an element of personalized strength, which must
have been the point--Wanda always packs a punch, Thea I never met before
but enjoyed...I think Victoria's quite smart and FrancEyE is an icon of
the unexpected kind....Great Job --truly---and yes I too loved Brendan's
clips--thought Suzanne was fine--great also and Kamau & Harryette --lovely
---Elena Karina Byrne, Poet
“Poetry is life, and the avoidance of it is death.” – Steve Goldman
“You’re a bum (even) if you’re a success.” – Brendan Constantine
“Poetry (is), a second use of language.” – Brendan Constantine
“It’s like taking a big sh(bleep)it.” – Askew
“Poetry is a tightened ball of reality.” – Marcielle Brandler
“Everybody is a poet. They just don’t exercise that part of themselves.” – FrancEye
“It's like I’m opening up a little bit of myself.” – Keren Taylor
“It’s scripture for them.” – Shahe Mankerian
“Why is the sweat of the heart invisible?” – Kamau Daaood
“The chair grabbed my leg.” – Elena Karina Byrne
“I’m trying to keep you alive!” – Johnny Masuda
“Cats with knives for teeth.” – Brendan Constantine
“(They say) my poem has saved their lives.” – Wanda Coleman
“What you say is more important than the line breaks.” – Marie Lecrivain
“I can teach them forms. But what they put into it is the content.
(I give them) the container,
but what they put into it, is entirely their own.” – Aleida Rodriguez
“Bring in an image that is unique.” – Elena Karina Byrne
“The hypnogogic trance of language.” – Harryette Mullin
“You have to own all of it.” – Askew
“Words began to come out of me. I guess this is poetry?” – Richard Weekley
“You know you’re channeling this stuff.” – Kamau Daaood
“At the core it’s raw.” – Nika Hoffman
“An internal world.” – Jennifer Tseng
And when you hear and see their poems in this video…you’ll feel they’re
worth twice the price of admission! I hope there will be a volume
My only regret is not making more of an effort to be a part of your fine production. It is first rate !
---Don "Kingfisher" Campbell, Poet, Educator
Don "Kingfisher" Campbell teaches writing in the "California
Poets In the Schools" and "Occidental College Upward Bound "
programs and hosts "Tuesday Night Poetry" at Borders Books in Pasadena,