Monday, March 24, 2014

A New Incarnation for "Orchids"

If you're not familiar with Nic Sebastian's The Poetry Storehouse, you must get familiar. It's a wonderful resource of poems, audios, and videos. Poets are invited to submit poems. If selected, the poems are posted at the site. The poets may then send in an audio for each poem. Nic and her team of readers may also choose to make an audio of a poem. The poem and audio are then made available for a "remix." Someone who has skill in making videos may select one of the poems and transform it into a video. The videos sometimes incorporate video clips from other sources and sometimes are made from still images. A music track is added. The result is a new version of the poem. I've viewed a number of these remixes and they are of incredible beauty.

Nic, who is a wonderful reader of poetry—she has a great voice and really captures the pulse of a poem—made an audio of my poem, "Orchids," from my book, What Feeds Us. I was delighted with that and then some days later completely thrilled with the video she made of the poem. Here's the poem:

Orchids

    They are hot and moist in operation, under the
    dominion of Venus, and provoke lust exceedingly.

        —The British Herbal Guide, 1653

Such flowers must be used with discretion.
Love of them becomes obsession.

A man pursues an orchid as he once
pursued a green-eyed woman. He hunts

in Florida swamps, Thailand, and Brazil,
delirious with lust, blissed on the smell

of dust and mulch, steamy veil of moisture,
breathing pores on leaves, tessellated lure

of waxy sepals, pouched lips, and tubers,
stamen and pistil twisted together,

inflorescence of Phalaenopsis,
Vanda Sanderiana, Cryptanthus.

Dream-haunted nights—ghost, slipper, and spider,
the deep plunge to the nectar inside her.


Now take a look at what Nic did with the poem:


As if that weren't enough bountiful gift for me, another filmmaker, Paul Broderick, also chose the same poem and audio for a new video and produced a very different version, also fantastic. I'm glad I don't have to choose only one. I love them both.

Check out Paul's version:



If I were still teaching, I think it would be fun to do a lesson with the poem and videos. Ask students to read and respond to the poem. Show the two videos and ask students to compare and contrast. Then perhaps ask them to find a poem they like and make a video.

All of the videos produced by The Poetry Storehouse are available at their Vimeo page.


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