MOVERS AND SHAKERS: K.A. Hays’ Motionpoem Premieres in MPLS

Since relocating to Minneapolis from the East Coast last year, I have grown to love much about the Land of Many Lakes. For one, I love how the weather here — no matter how frigid and snowy — continues to call people out of their homes and onto the streets. Art and culture, for this reason, seem to thrive best in this Midwestern Refrigerator. Risks are taken. Things deteriorate.  The leftovers collaborate and welcome the freezer burn. The art here smells kinda funky, but is always fresh.

I particularly love this city for its funky-fresh approach to art, especially when some element of re-thinking/remixing is involved. This past October, my friends Kristin, Reinhardt, and I went to one such event that prides itself in the art of collaboration: the Opening Night Screening of the 2012 Motionpoems at Open Book in Minneapolis. In case you’re not familiar, Motionpoems is a nonprofit production company founded by animator / producer Angella Kassube and poet Todd Boss, two local artists who found the beauty in linking word artists with video artists to create short films for the big screen.

Together, these artists make poems move. And, boy, are they moving.

There at Open Book, we noshed on popcorn, drank hoppy beer, and nerded out from the back row as each work was introduced, played, and then elaborated upon by the visual artists in a quick Q&A. This particular batch of moving babies featured select poets from the Best American Poetry anthology, which, by happy coincidence, featured our very own Katie Hays. Needless to say, I was most excited to see her work and reveled in the opportunity to rep the 17837 in the 55404. I love the sound that two worlds make when they crash together!

Now I could go on and on about how cool it was to know the poet and see the poem animated in this strange space, or how disjointed I felt when someone else who was clearly not Katie (but was Angela Kassube!) provided the voice-over for the poem, or how badly I wanted to open my window when I got home and cry out, now, weather, do you understand? But I figure it’s better to show rather than tell such things to you. Full disclosure: I postponed my thoughts on Katie’s Motionpoem for two months for exactly this reason: I wanted you all to see how cool it was, not just take my word for it.

JUST AS, AFTER A POINT, JOB CRIED OUT a poem by K.A. Hays from Motionpoems on Vimeo.

Overall, it’s safe to say that the cinema of my mind was blown.  I also found myself invigorated by the vast opportunities that exist for poetry outside of 8 1/2 x 11 page. Poetry, these artists have realized, does not have to be so pretentious, so white bread, so — I love/hate to say it, BUT I WILL SAY IT — anthologized in order to be considered moving. Really, these works were moving because they provided opportunity and access to its audience and other artists to be moving. And for this new sense of direction for poetry,  I am grateful… and relieved.

What are your thoughts? What’d you think of Katie’s Motionpoem? In what ways may you/have you found your writing treading into other mediums, or resisting such cross-pollination? Let us know in the comments below!

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One thought on “MOVERS AND SHAKERS: K.A. Hays’ Motionpoem Premieres in MPLS

  1. I was so excited to see a new post up on the Afterword, and love your description of this event and Minneapolis in general. And Katie´s motionpoem is awesome! It makes me think of my poetry seminar with Nance Van Winkle my senior year at Bucknell. Our final project was called “Poetry Off the Page”. It was neat to see all the different projects. Some people made videos, motionpoems, like the ones above, though they were both poet and animator. Kathryn Brownstone, ’09, did a really neat project where she spray painted (with washable paint) the horse she rode with words like “run”, and then took pictures of him/her in motion. I did a project with fimo clay, first pressing words and poems into it, and then making figures like a tree, calf, and stacks of blocks, which I wrote lines from poems on. I still have them and could postpics of them here on the Afterword…I love projects of cross-pollination as you called it.

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