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Guest Post: Visions of the Moon by Erica Goss

Erica Goss, the poet who wrote Wild Place, continues to keep us up to date on her 12 Moons project with vocal talents of Nic S. and the musical talents of Kathy McTavish. We’ll be sure to keep everyone in the look on this collaborative project. Check out the first guest post, her Writing Down the Moon guest post, her Voice of the Moon guest post, and the Music of the Moon guest post.

Please gave Erica a warm welcome.

complex flavors:
bark mulch, oyster shell,
lime, charcoal,
stone releasing
the sun’s warmth
at night.

        from “Strawberry Moon” by Erica Goss

As I wrote in the first blog post for 12 Moons, the video artist Swoon envisioned this project, put the artistic team together, and created the twelve videos using my poems, Nic S.’s voice, and Kathy McTavish’s music. Swoon is a video-quilter, turning poetry, voice, music and images into haunting and beautiful experiences. From the tentative beginnings of this project, which began with two poems I sent him in a “what do you think” email, he imagined a series of twelve videos based on those and ten more poems, each one titled after a traditional name for the full moon.

Swoon’s video poems have been described as dream-like, full of flickering images, color, and sound. They don’t tell stories chronologically; like dreams, they deliver an experience that’s difficult to describe. As Swoon himself says, “Videos should not just show what’s going on in the poem – as in, the poem mentions a leaf falling and sure enough, you see a leaf falling. I want something that takes more imagination.” (You can read an interview with Swoon in my column at Connotation Press.

I asked Swoon about his inspiration for what became 12 Moons.

“You sent me those two poems, ‘Strawberry Moon’ and ‘Snow Moon,’ and mentioned it was going to be a series. I had just done Circle and was looking for another bigger project. I immediately saw a ‘calendar of video poems.’”

Each of the videos is both separate and linked. How did you find the common thread that connects them?

“For me the common thread is your voice in those poems. So when you read them or hear them read out loud by Nic, they all connect by the choice of words, their rhythm…all different but all from the same source. When you watch and listen to the videos, that connection is made stronger because of Kathy’s sounds. I also made visual links between them, small blips from one video appear in the next one.”

12 Moons is a linked work, like your film Circle. Do you anticipate making longer films in the future?

“I would love to. I have this idea for a more ‘regular’ short film, with a regular storyline and characters, but with all of the dialog coming from poetry. It’s going to take time and money to make that, and as we speak, I don’t have enough of both to do so now.”

Can you describe why certain poems attract you as a filmmaker?

“No. I just follow my gut. It can be the poem as a whole, a certain phrase, a word, the rhythm and music of the poem … the title even. When I read (or rather listen, because I prefer to hear poetry) and I get images, it takes me places. It’s a good poem for me. The overall ‘music of the poem’ must appeal. It’s hard to put a finger on – it’s a gut feeling.”

When I watch your videos, I often feel that you make the unseen visible. Is that a deliberate decision you make?

“Yes and no. I look for underlying thoughts in a poem (very often my own thoughts, I guess – my projections) and try to give the video visual hints of that. Not even visualize those thoughts literally, but more of a hint, an atmosphere. I try and combine that with the actual lines or words of the poem.”

Your work respects the poetry. It never uses a poem as a vehicle for visual expression. How do you achieve the balance of image, sound and word?

“Trial and error. I begin, create, mix and hope for the best. Sometimes it works, very often it doesn’t and I try again. But even when it doesn’t, it might still be a good video for another reason, or for something else. It’s like a John Cage quote I recently read: ‘Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.’ I think I like to work by those lines.”

Here is the trailer for 12 Moons:

12 Moons (teaser) from Marc Neys (aka Swoon) on Vimeo.

12 Moons is an artwork combining poetry, voice, music and video. Twelve poems written by Erica Goss form the narrative. The poems move through a year of full moons, reflecting the hidden influence of the moon on one person’s life. Kathy McTavish’s original music adds complexity to Nic S.’s intense and compelling narration, framed by Swoon’s precise editing of sound and image, which creates a miniature universe for each poem within the context of the project.

12 Moons will appear beginning January 2014 at Atticus Review.

Here are links to the artists involved in 12 Moons:

  • Swoon’s website
  • Kathy McTavish’s website
  • Erica Goss’s website
  • Erica Goss’s column on video poetry.

How excited are you to get your hands on this project?

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