Motionpoems broadens the audience for poetry by turning great contemporary poems into short films.
In 2008, animator/producer Angella Kassube animated one of Todd Boss‘s poems. The results were so compelling that Boss and Kassube began introducing other poets to other video artists. A year later, a public screening in Minneapolis drew a standing-room-only crowd of 150+ to see 12 pieces dubbed motionpoems… and a new hybrid form was born. Since then, motionpoems have appeared in mainstream media, blogs, YouTube, international film festivals, classrooms, art galleries, and here on our website. Our films premiere annually at the Walker Art Center.
Todd and Angella Tell the Motionpoems Story
OUR PRODUCTION TEAM
Motionpoems is a formal collaboration between these world-class professionals:
- Todd Boss, co-founder, Executive and Artistic Director, poet and public artist
- Egg Creative, a leading provider of original and licensed music for film, television, and advertising
- Amanda Miller, senior producer with many years of experience, currently at Psyop in LA
- Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP)-MN, a leading resource for indie filmmakers
Motionpoems partners with publishers to procure poems for each season of 12+ films. Partnering publishers have included Milkweed Editions, Copper Canyon Press, Graywolf Press, Farrar Straus & Giroux, Wave Books and McSweeney’s, plus leading poetry periodicals like Alaska Quarterly Review, American Poetry Review, The Believer, Tin House, and others. We also enjoy a long-term content-sharing relationship with Scribner’s annual Best American Poetry anthology.
Poems are selected from partnering publishers’ forthcoming titles, and offered to our network of filmmakers. Poets in previous seasons have included Pulitzer winners Mark Strand and Richard Wilbur, as well as many other celebrated writers. Poets retain the rights to their poems and sign a standard film contract with Motionpoems.
Season 6 is a special collaboration with VIDA: WOMEN IN THE ARTS, designed to balance the Motionpoems ecosystem with more poetry by women.
VIDEO ARTIST SELECTION
Our video artists come to us in a variety of ways. Some approach us. Others are approached by us. Our network is always growing. We seek innovative, thoughtful leaders in the field who demonstrate a desire to push themselves into new creative territory and engage new forms. All our film artists are offered a standard contract that protects their rights to their work. We support their work with production oversight, collaborator facilitation, and audio supervision as needed. 95% of our video artists have reported “awesome” or “supremely awesome” experiences working with us!
Video artists work from completed poems. Poets are not required to work directly with video artists. Video artists are given free rein to be their own creative directors on their projects. Motionpoems’ team is available to advise poets and video artists, and to connect the project with additional creative talent as needed. A small stipend rewards video artists who complete projects on deadline and whose work is selected for screening.
SCREENING and DISTRIBUTION
A dozen poems annually are selected for public screening at our annual festival and premiere. In 2009, 2010, and 2011, premieres at Open Book in Minneapolis were sponsored by the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. Since then, our premieres are co-hosted by The Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis-St Paul International Film Festival. Premieres, hosted by Todd Boss, encourage audiences to dialogue with artists. In coming years, regional premieres in additional markets, including Miami and Los Angeles, will be added to our calendar. Motionpoems are made available online, monthly, after the premiere, so they can be shared freely. Talks are underway with regional and national broadcasters about distribution, and we welcome more such conversations.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Motionpoems’ activities are overseen by:
Vice President, Established Brands, Inc.
Angella Kassube (co-founder)
Producer, HDMG Post Audio + Effects
Attorney, Gray, Plant, Mooty, Mooty & Bennett
Jeff Rathermel (chair)
Executive Director, Minnesota Center for Book Arts
Daniel Slager (vice chair)
Publisher and CEO, Milkweed Editions
Director, Walker Art Center’s MNartists.org
Susan Smoluchowski (secy/treas)
Executive Director, The Film Society of Minneapolis St Paul
“Astonishing, powerful, and hilarious. Motionpoems is leading a poetry renaissance.”
“I feel confident in my prediction that more and more arranged marriages will be made between poetry and video—confident enough to call this a trend. The idea of basing a video on a poem may one day seem as natural and inevitable as the setting of poems to music used to be.”
—David Lehman in his introduction to Best American Poetry 2012
“See for yourself, but be warned: [a motionpoem] is so striking and cinematic … you can’t just watch it once. Most people replay [it] several times because each viewing pulls them deeper into the poem.”
—Christian Science Monitor
“Of all the new ways people are trying to disseminate the art form of poetry, I think Motionpoems is one of the most original and the one to appeal most to lovers of poetry, particularly to younger people, and that’s important: among them are the poets of the future, and among them are readers of the future.”
—Thomas Lux, poet
“Today I had a new agency client here. He was talking to me about doing an animation for him. Showed him my motionpoem and he was blown away, completely sold on what I could do for his project. I got the job!”
—a Motionpoems animator
“As part of this fall’s creative writing course, each student had to make a motionpoem. We screened them last night. They are fabulous! A few of them blew my mind.”
—Jami Macarty, teacher
“BRILLIANT! Exactly the atmosphere I was hoping for. Perfect. The music is right, too. It would have been so easy to overdo it, both the reading and the music. I love the way it turned out. Thank you so much… THIS IS FUN!”
—Dag Straumsvåg, poet
“I rather love the freedoms the filmmaker took with the poem, the images …that are not literally in the poem but open up a new interpretive experience, an addition to the poem rather than merely an illustration of it. Some of my friends don’t like these liberties, but to me it’s the open exchange of such collaborations that makes them satisfying. My poem becomes a beginning and not an end.”
—David Mason, poet
“Motionpoems is a visionary endeavor made actual, an ongoing project that has become cafe, guest house, gallery, and experimental stage where words and images can meet, converse, barn-raise, feast, and dance.”
—Jane Hirshfield, poet
“I just have to support what I see as a significant synergy in the arts—what you’re doing seems exciting, logical, natural, and necessary. I liked what Angella said about poems being “perfect scripts”—and that makes sense to me. I’ve always believed that the arts should cross-pollinate. Inspiration leads to inspiration.
—L. S. Klatt, poet