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The intersection of poetry and video

Here, we will explore the intersection of poetry and video. In the same way that the Fantasia films - or indeed any music videos- provide moving visual backdrops for music, animation and video footage can provide moving backdrops for text- especially poetry.

Broadly speaking, there are two main ways to add moving backdrops to existing poems: adding animation, or adding video footage. So how do you go about creating such backdrops?

Animated Poems


Let's start with perhaps the more intimidating option- adding animation. Animation might seem unapproachable and difficult, but it's conceptually a fairly easy thing to do. Just remember that animation is nothing more than a sequence of images that are each slightly different from the last. A flipbook presents a very early example of 'animation.'

So how do you go about creating such a flipbook? Well, one simple answer is to make it by hand. Although this can work wonderfully- think of the early Disney movies where each frame was hand-painted by a team of artists- it is incredibly time-consuming.

Luckily, we have access to computers- and that makes things easier. There are a huge number of computer programs that you can use to produce animations! Some are professional quality drawing programs that you can download, often for free. Others are simple drawing programs, where you can use copy/paste to create many similar images with minimal effort.

The program I used in the example below to assemble images is Adobe Premiere Pro, but any video editing program will do. One free option is lightworks, but there are many different choices out there.

Choreographed Poems


An alternative to producing animation is to collect video footage and use that as the backdrop for your poem. The only downside to using this method is that unless you manage to take all the relevant footage in one take, you'll certainly need video-editing software to put the pieces together. 

Also note that the line between a recorded slam poem and a video poem is very thin!

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