Sunday, April 20, 2014

Poet Christopher Merrill at the LAT Festival of Books

Last week at the Los Angeles Time Festival of Books went well. I found the slim tripod that I could carry in my handbag. That helps to stabilize a lot of the recordings.

This is Christopher Merrill reading at the Poetry stage on campus at University of Southern California. It took a while to find the poetry stage. USC is a big campus and there were a lot of people checking out the doings on a Sunday afternoon. My toe bones were aching but I found it.

Here is the thing; traditional poetry readings can be visually electrifying. Or contemplative. I'm a little bit sad that people think that every poetry reading needs to be a competition or delivered in a bam, bam, super slam means of getting into your head.

Do not miss understand me; I like the bam bam. I like the contemplative too.

Traditional non-juiced up poetry is hard to record. Especially if you are just aiming a camera at the poet. And you have one camera. And you only get one chance to get it right.

I have been told that you need to mix it up visually every 10 to 15 seconds. Keep the video short.  Find the story and use the tools to tell it.

The reason being is that modern video viewers have very short attentions spans. That is true.

Then again, poems don't always comply with short attention spanned people. You might need to listen more than see. Maybe the poem requires you to slow down. Be still. Listen.

Some would argue that audio only would be more appropriate. Or the use of an audio foundation with photography would better serve the poem. That could be true as well.

For me, this is a moment in time with a poet. This is how some people recite poetry. I did add a visual break in a section of the video but that was to hid my zooming into his space more than to give the viewer a break.

Could I have don't better? Yes, in hindsight I could have recorded more coverage of his face, hands and the environment.

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