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.
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!