The past few days, I have been using a single poem across multiple media (taking part virtually in a National Writing Project writing marathon underway in New Orleans called Finding Your Muse), trying to shape and reshape it with tools at hand to see how the poem might remain in the center of presentation. I think it worked, and I think each piece of media composition gave the poem a little twist.
I began here, on paper, with thoughts of a poem about music and New Orleans and jazz, and my own work as a college student listening to early jazz in order to understand our country’s history and its original art form. I scribble out a lot when I write. I mostly use pen and paper for poetry because I like the writing to be tangible and scratchable (is that a word?) as I write and move things around. On the computer, when I write drafts of poems, I lose my trails (I know, there are revision steps in software but I find them rather cumbersome — I need something like a shadow revision button that allows me to see shadows of what I have written, removed, shifted, etc.).
I then moved the poem into two different formats for Kinetic Typography. In one, I used Prezi and in the other, I used Keynote (exported to YouTube). I can’t say I was all that happy with either one of them, although the process of decided font size, path of the viewer, animation of words to emphasize meaning, design elements and more were intriguing to consider for a poem written outside of the kinetic typography experience, if that makes sense. In other words, I did not write the poem, thinking: I am going to animate this sucker. I reverse-engineered it, and so that made the compositional act a little tricky.
Next, I created a digital story with the Adobe Voice app. Now, I like Voice for its simplicity and user-friendly design, but I don’t like how you can’t share it beyond an embed from the Adobe site. You can’t export the digital story to YouTube, and you can’t save it as a video file on your mobile device (although I guess you could screencast it and save it that way). As a digital story, the poem did come alive, I think, as I chose specific images to create a sense of place for the poem. I did not like the limited selection of music soundtrack, and don’t feel that part of the emotional undercurrent did justice to the sentiment of the poem itself.
The next variation was visual, as I used a site called Visual Poetry to create another way of reading the poem, where the words become the paint on the canvas that becomes the new version of the poem. The site allows you to use words as lines for images, if that makes sense, and so the poem became a Shape Poem of sorts. Here, I found myself paying closer attention to phrases within lines, thinking about what words I wanted outside of the poem itself. It took more than a few tries at Visual Poetry to get what I wanted because you have to be careful and thoughtful about what words you use, and when. I broke the poem down into parts before reassembling them as a Shape Poem.
Normally, I would have created a podcast version earlier in the process of writing a poem. Here, for some reason, it took me nearly to the end. I knew I needed some jazz sounds underneath my voice, so I used FreeSound to find some street musicians, and layered that audio under my podcast of the poem, giving a sense of jazz infused atmosphere (I hope).
The final variation, as shared yesterday, shared the poem over at Poetry Genius, which allows you to annotate text (your own work or the work of others, and the Genius family has spaces for songs, essays, etc.) and open up the annotations for others. This work allowed me to layer in thoughts on top of the poem, to give some context, and I played with text, images, audio, and video annotations. It was intriguing to step back from the poem, and try to offer personal insights, sparked by phrases in the lines of the poem.
One addition thing: as I have been re-composing this poem over the past week, so has my friend, Terry, been doing work on his own poem (The World is Curving), and our sharing has mingled with each other in various social media spaces. I’ve been inspired by what Terry has done, and I began to consider connections between our two works of writing. I tried to visualize the ways our writing processes were becoming entangled in a good way, and created this:
Peace (in the poem of many colors),