Notes from the first half of the third and final Co-Kisser poetry-film festival


Ethan Marxhausen

On Saturday, I checked out the Co-Kisser Poetry-Film Festival.

Which is what, exactly? The festival, according to festival curator Jen March, is meant to “showcase what people are making and describing as poetry-film.”

A panel of contributing filmmakers seemed to agree on a few unique characteristics of film-poetry. 1) Because it is filmic, it is temporal, as opposed to poetry, which is only two-dimensional. 2) It is both high (digital) and low-tech (analog). 3) It is self-aware.

Although the thirteen short films in the first half of the festival were as diverse as gorp, their thematic similarities—time, structure, existentialism—showed a medium-specific unity of purpose. The relative lack of definition for the genre seems to free the films to deliver fun/infuriating lines like in Ye Mimi's time-focused They are There but I am Not: “A parrot is there/but God is not.”

There was garden-variety poetry as well, but it lived as colorfully as marigolds from last March thanks to (Paper Darts published) Gretchen Marquette's tender reading.

Here are some other highlights from the first half of the festival, which took place on Oct. 19 at the Minneapolis College of Arts and Design (you can locate most of the films featured at the festival via this handy PDF):

The Road

Wayne Nelson & Gretchen Marquette


Gretchen said: “Sometimes my poems tend to be observant about sadder or darker things in life, but I am a really happy and cheerful person. So when people see that...the light is always there with the dark...I feel like they understand.”

MPB Was There Then

Valerie LeBlanc


MPB Was There Then (2011) from Valerie LeBlanc on Vimeo.

Valerie said: “The moment is now, always in the present. Every moment, every nanomoment is measured now, in the digital age. But nothing has changed about the most important moment being now.”

About the MPB (MediaPackBoard), her own invention, she said: “I'm not a mother, but a babypack [worn on the front] just didn't feel right. It made more sense as a backpack. It's part of my life to wear a backpack.”

Rhythm of Structure:
The VideoPoem

John Sims


This hip-hoppy graffittied pastiche apparently inspired the festival to include the category Soul on the Road—Physics, Math, Memory. As mathematical and impliedly transcendent as my Algebra II class, which I also did not understand.

Campground 1945

Wayne Nelson & Bill Reichelt


This one provoked a premature round of applause. My notes next to it in the program read “this fucking thing.”

Curio Cabinet: Part I

Looking forward to (and behind the scenes of) the Twin Cities Book Festival