Heading into Poetry Video Season!

It was exciting to see the poetry videos produced by students enrolled in SFU Surrey’s IAT 344 Moving Images course this term! Several student teams made poetry videos based on a selection of shortlisted adult poems from stage one of the City Poems Contest held earlier this year. (This term served as a trial run before the upcoming launch of the contest’s second stage, which focuses on poetry videos produced by pre-selected public post-secondary classes.)

Most teams worked on the shortlisted site-based poems through the fall, while others worked on different projects. I visited the class early in the term to introduce poetry videos. A few weeks later, guest curator and noted video poet Tom Konyves gave students a tour of his exhibit, Poets with a Video Camera: Videopoetry 1980-2020 at the Surrey Art Gallery.

Tom was also one of the two judges awarding prizes to the student teams at a reception and screening held at the end of term. Given the course requirements, the student teams doing poetry videos (which had to be under 5 minutes in length) also had to film short documentaries where they interviewed the poets. These interviews with the poets often provided fascinating insights into the history and significance of the sites on which the poems were based.

I want to applaud the hardworking student teams and Jay Tseng, the sessional instructor who filled in at the last minute for Kate Hennessy. Kate had originally been set to do the trial run this term, but was pulled away to cover another instructor for a different course, although she’ll be back next term. I was heartened that both Kate and Jay were so open to making poetry videos an optional class assignment. I’m also very grateful to the poets chosen this term who made time to collaborate with their student teams.

Next term should be great too with a new set of SFU IAT 344 students (taught by Kate Hennessy), plus participating classes in animation (Martin Rose) and film studies (Christine Stewart) at Emily Carr University, as well as digital storytelling with UBC’s First Nations & Indigenous Studies (David Gaertner).

Meanwhile, youth finalists from stage one of the City Poems Contest are being offered the opportunity to participate in a free poetry video workshop in the new year to make their own poetry videos/films, facilitated by a local film collective based at the Moberly Arts Centre.

I’m very much looking forward to visiting all the classes and the youth workshops in the new year! There was some very promising work this term, and there’s bound to be more to come. Heather Haley will be judging the contest in the spring. There’ll be an award ceremony and public screening of the winning poetry videos at the Museum of Vancouver on June 11th!