Bushwick-based filmmaker Michelle Cheripka wants to change the way you feel about poetry. And she’s doing that in a very big way. To celebrate National Poetry Month this April, her initiative, The Visible Poetry Project, will digitally release one stunning visual short per day, featuring the collaborative work of one filmmaker, paired with one poet. That’s 30 poets with 30 filmmakers for 30 days. Each short film is incredibly diverse in style, averages around 2-3 minutes and will be released every day of April at 3 p.m. EST on Vimeo.
The brand-new initiative features an eclectic mix of filmmakers from different backgrounds and of diverse ages and work disciplines. Some are NYU students, others are critically acclaimed artists like Dutch animator Anna Eijsbouts and documentarian Frances Negrón-Muntaner (“War in Guam”).
Once the thirty artists were chosen from a combination of submissions and outreach, each filmmaker selected a poet to collaborate with based on what themes they wanted to explore and what they felt could work well visually for their particular medium. The selected poetry varies from originals to classics and sometimes include notable names like Neil Gaiman (“The Sandman,” “Coraline”) and Tato Laviera.
“Pairing film and poetry together is a great way to reevaluate the use of certain mediums and to show how they can work together in a beautiful way,” Cheripka explains.
“We wanted the filmmakers to be able to connect with a poet whose work really spoke to them and to also see them rethinking the way they approach their own medium. To see them applying grammar to visual film has been amazing, especially in seeing how different the interpretations can be.”
Some of the filmmaker-poet partnerships are long-distance, like Cheripka, whose poet is based in Beijing, which creates almost an interactive, pen-pal relationship. Many other duos happen to be New York City-based and have become fast friends from their work process, bouncing ideas off of each other in person.
Cheripka along with the three other Visible Poetry Project executive producers not only coordinated the project logistics, but they all served as creative advisors and mentors to the artists involved.
Each creator brings a unique and vital role to the team: Cheripka and Alex Max both work in TV and media production; Bedstuy-based Christina Ellsberg is a poet herself; and Nick Scherma was raised in the film world and takes on the Visible Poetry Project’s business development.
Aside from creating the day-by-day Vimeo series, the executive team has facilitated partnerships with National Poetry Month and Brooklyn’s Kids Film Fest among others, in addition to hosting weekly screenings at venues in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Sleepy Hollow and Beijing.
Cheripka wants their “audience to have the realization that poetry is very accessible. As an English major in school, I was exposed to a lot of poetry, but talking to many others about it, I think poetry is often seen as archaic or outdated.”
“Poetry is an amazing medium to be raw and vulnerable within—anyone can do it. It’s as simple as picking up the pencil. I would love for people to walk away from the initiative, realizing that poetry can be so integrated in our lives. Poets are not just the Shakespeares of the world, one could be a nineteen year-old girl from Stanford…it’s such an outlet.”
Tomorrow at 3 p.m. EST, the Visible Poetry Project’s first short film goes live! Enjoy the daily visual interpretations and consider attending one of the live screenings. Check out the trailer below:
Photo by Steve Johnson via Flickr.