REEL poetry/Houston TX 2019,
Houston’s first international poetry film festival, produced by Public
was impressive in its inaugural year, and already promises
to be back next year, and then either annually or biannually
after that. The three-day event included live poetry
performances, a panel discussion, and a workshop, in addition to
featuring more than fifty films, ranging from documentaries and
poetry films to videos extending poetry in all directions, from
calligraphy and graphic design to dance and art performances,
wordless narratives, concrete poetry, and abstract animation.
Rather than trying to distinguish poetry films (films of poems)
from film poetry (whose lineage derives from early 20th century
experimental film and the “pure cinema” of dadaists and
surrealists, such as Man Ray), REELpoetry advocates a big-tent
approach, preferring an expansive canon rather than a narrow
REELpoetry’s eclectic curatorial vision produced a diverse and
lively program of 36 films, some of which have already been
featured on Moving Poems, or in other poetry film festivals, but
also others that highlight new voices and disparate
inspirations. Most of the films are available on the web, so
what follows is a compendium with links, so that you can watch
them in one place. When a particular film is unavailable, a link
to the filmmaker/poet’s website or social media is provided
The festival itself commissioned one film, which opened the
cinepoetry screenings: 7 Seas, by Kyra
based on excerpts from Emily Dickinson’s poems about bodies of
The festival also gave out two awards with cash prizes, the
judges award, which went to The
Opened Field (Helmie
Stills, filmmaker; Don Bury, poet), and an audience choice
award, which went to I
Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast (Dan
Sickles, filmmaker; Melissa Studdard, poet).
Houston is a diverse and eclectic city that is proud of its
support for the arts, and both REELpoetry and Public Poetry
benefit from that climate, enjoying strong community interest,
institutional support, and grant funding. Media coverage for
REELpoetry 2019 was impressive, including articles in the Houston
and Culture Texas.
The festival also provided lodging for poets/filmmakers who
attended the event, and the schedule included times and places
for mingling and sharing ideas. The inaugural festival set a
high bar, and promises even better next year.
A Trending Houston
ENTERTAINMENT // MOVIES
Film and poetry merge at
By Jef Rouner,
Correspondent March 20, 2019
A work from Kyra Clegg in
You know poetry, right? It’s that thing that people in cultured
clubs shout at you over a jazz saxophonist or read in classes
where the books don’t have dragons on the front. You’re not
wrong, but there is a lot more than that, something that the new
REELpoetry festival is keen to highlight.
The format is cinepoetry, a film-centric expression of the
medium invented by celebrated surrealist Man Ray in the 1920s.
The term encompasses all the intersections of poetry and film,
from biopics and concert films to more experimental expressions
of poetry through a camera lens as Ray did.
REELpoetry is international in scope and Houston’s first
poetry-film festival. It features artists from Austria,
Australia, Canada, England, Finland, France, Germany, India,
Ireland, Scotland, Taiwan and Ukraine as well homegrown poets
eager to show off what the city can do.
The festival is under the umbrella of Public Poetry, which for
more than seven years has been working diligently to expand the
presence of verse in H-Town with monthly readings, workshops,
open mics and even bringing U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinksy to
town to establish a Favorite Poem Project.
“Film is a great way to be introduced to poetry because of the
dimension it adds to it,” says Public Poetry director and
REELpoetry executive director Fran Sanders. “It’s a great way to
learn about a poet’s life’s work or the work of people who are
long dead. That’s a very unique thing film can accomplish. For
poets, it’s another way to think about their work, what it can
do and how people can engage in it.
“Poetry as an art form is not well understood by the general
public,” Sanders adds. “It’s funny to me that people will say,
‘I don’t like poetry’ based on one experience. They would never
say that about music based on one song. I hope this will be
another song for people.”
A collection of short films opens the festival Friday at Café
Brasil and Saturday at University of Houston-Downtown, all under
five minutes and many featuring collaborations among Houstonians
of multiple disciplines. Margo Stutts Toombs, known for what she
jokingly calls her “old lady raps,” teamed up with poet Louisa
Smith and artist Cookie Wells for a piece called “Body
Language.” Wells and Smith played off each other in mutual
inspiration as Toombs filmed and a dancer performed
interpretations of the work, including themes of water shot
during rainstorms at Evelyn’s Park.
“When you’re creating something, it shows how people can make
something greater than they do individually,” Toombs says.
The screenings will include live performances by some of the
poets narrating the works. Others are more experimental,
including a silent piece that uses images in metered cadence to
express the poem. Think of it like speed dating for visual
“If you don’t like it, it will be gone in a minute or two,”
Other screenings are more traditional films, including Robert
Frank’s “This Song for Jack,” celebrating the work of Jack
Kerouac through readings, and the Beat-poetry short film “Pull
The centerpiece, though, is “BadddDDD Sonia Sanchez,” a stirring
biopic of the revolutionary poet who helped spearhead the Black
Arts Movement. The movie is an exhilarating celebration of her
life and words as she looks back on her long career. Plans to
have Sanchez present at REELpoetry were unfortunately scuttled
because of her health. Instead, the film will be accompanied
with a talk by Houston poet Ayokunle Falomo.
Modest in scope, REELpoetry is nonetheless a powerful entry into
the city’s ever-expanding arts scene. Poetry has long thrived in
Houston, and the festival adds a dimension that allows audiences
to appreciate the medium.
“It’s yet another indication for the very strong arts scenes we
have in Houston,” REELpoetry public relations director Billie
Duncan says. “It’s also wonderful because so much of it is
collaborative. Filmmakers, artists, dancers … all coming
together to make these startling pieces of art.”
HOUSTON PUBLIC MEDIA
ARTS & CULTURE
Houston Kicks Off Its First International Poetry
A collaborative art form that is not often showcased by
itself will now have its own festival in Houston.
CATHERINE LU | POSTED ON MARCH 21, 2019, 2:35 PM
Cinepoetry is a genre that blends
poetry and film, with a myriad of approaches. It’s often a film
that features a poem, as well as collaborations with musicians
and artists — but it doesn’t have to.
“One of the cinepoems [in the festival] is actually silent. But
you get to see the poetic expression, if you will. It has its
own rhythm and meter even though it lacks words,” said Fran
Sanders, founder and director of REELpoetry, a poetry film
festival sponsored by her organization,
The three-day event will screen about 40 cinepoems from over a
dozen countries, plus documentaries and videos. The festival
opens with a showcase of local poets, at times reading live
on-stage, alongside videos of their past performances in a “4-D”
Sanders said that, as a genre, cinepoetry is not usually shown
by itself, but with Houston’s active poetry and film scene, she
decided to focus on it and create the city’s first international
festival of this kind.
“I think it will introduce a whole new audience to some really
exciting poetry that’s going on at this time all over Houston,
all over the country and all over the world,” she said.
The plan is to make REELpoetry an annual or biennial festival.
“There is so much exciting material that’s out there, this is
just the tip of the iceberg,” said Sanders.
“I thought, people need to see this. People need to know who she
is and what she’s accomplished,” she said.
A screening of BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez will be the centerpiece of
the festival. The film showcases Sanchez’s life, beliefs, vision
and ground-breaking poetry. But it’s also Sanchez’s approach to
social justice through her life and art that Sanders hopes
audiences will take with them beyond the festival.
“Poetry is a really unique and valuable way of transforming the
world. Poetry is enormously powerful, and this film about
Sonia Sanchez gives you a sense of what the real power of
poetry can be,” Sanders said.
The festival takes place March 22 – 24, at various venues.
While not quite as ancient as
all nine muses of the arts, the conversation between the arts of
poetry and film goes back some time. REELpoetry,
curated by Toni Holland, is Public
Poetry’s first poetry film event, featuring documentaries,
workshops, panels, poetry performances, and cinepoetry.
What is cinepoetry? Is it
just films about poetry? Or with poems in them? Public Poetry
director Fran Sanders says what differentiates cinepoetry is the
fact that it takes the poet as departure. The poet is the
beginning, explicitly or implicitly.
Culled from submissions from
many different countries all over the world, the cinepoems that
will screen include everything from silent films, narratives,
the experimental, the not-so-experimental, and more.
Conceptually, the cinepoem has roots all over. Connections can
be drawn to many different points throughout art history: Stan
Brackhage’s “silent poems,” Man Ray’s films, Mallarmé’s poetry,
FLUXUS “intermedia,” and much more.
Like other modern genres, its
genre is generally outlined by its commitment to being
genre-less. Holland says, “What sets Reel Poetry/Houston TX
apart from other concurrent filmic poetics is an abounding
embrace of all literary and artistic practices, rather than an
impulse to respond to one literary trajectory.” Holland will be
teaching a Cinepoetry workshop on March 23, at 9:30 a.m. at
Saturday night features a
screening of BaddDDD
Sonia Sanchez, a documentary about poet, educator,
dramatist, and activist Sonia Sanchez, known for being one of
the leaders of the Black Arts Movement. Sanchez, who won the
2018 Wallace Stevens Award for poetry (among many other awards),
describes herself as ““a woman with razor blades between my
teeth.” Described by Maya Angelou, she is “a lion in
BaddDDD is a thorough
portrait of Sanchez’s journey as a writer, legacy within the
world of poetry, and impact as an activist. Surrounding its
narrative core are readings and performances by Sanchez and
others. Accompanied by jazz, her spoken-word performances
illuminate the vigorous, dynamic power of her poetry and ability
to take poetry far beyond the page. BaddDDD screens
Saturday, March 23 at 7 p.m at UH-Downtown and Sunday, March 24
at 4:25 p.m. at MATCH.
REELpoetry will feature two
short Robert Frank films centered around the Beats. Pull
my Daisy (1959) is a rough, rambling adaptation of an act
from an unfinished Jack Kerouac play. Kerouac improvises
voice-over narration while Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Alice
Neel, and others act out a sort of spontaneous “romp.” It is a
celebration of the improvisational, sprawling Beat Generation
ethos. Also showing is Frank’s rarer This
Song for Jack (1983), featuring Allen Ginsberg, William
Burroughs, and John Clellon Holmes.
Both films will be introduced
by Marian Luntz, curator of films at the MFAH,
on March 24 at 1:20 p.m. at MATCH. After the films, REELpoetry
will feature a Writers in the Schools (WITS) video, and a poetry
performance featuring poet Stalina Villareal (HTX) and vocalist
Ivette Roman (HTX). Outspoken Bean will premiere #midweekstanzas Season
3. Video screenings and performances at Brasil on Match 22 at
8:30 pm, and an after party at Rudyard’s on March 23 at 9 p.m
complete the festival.
In addition to REELpoetry,
Public Poetry has put on regular and special programming since
2011. Their Monthly Library Reading series combines all
different types and levels of poets together for readings at
libraries throughout Houston, everything from kids mentored by
WITS to Pulitzer Prize nominees. Audience members are invited to
read one of their favorite poems (their own, or by someone else)
during “half-time.” The library reading series takes place at 2
p.m. the first Saturday of every month. They also run an open
mic, hosted by Outspoken Bean. Their PM Show is a collaborative
effort between poets and musicians, each one featuring different
performers. On April 13, they offer a “Poetry Ride,” which is a
trip to and back from the Round Top Poetry Festival. The
festival features readings, talks, dinner, and more.
Lone Star Life
Houston’s first REELpoetry happens March 22-24
Sunday, March 17, 2019
REELpoetry, curated by Toni
Holland, is Public Poetry’s first poetry film event, featuring
documentaries, workshops, panels, poetry performances, and
What is cinepoetry? Public Poetry
director Fran Sanders says cinepoetry takes the poet as
departure: The poet is the beginning. Chosen from submissions
from all over the world, the cinepoems that will screen include
everything from silent films, narratives, the experimental, the
traditional, and more.
Holland told Arts & Culture Texas,
“What sets Reel Poetry/Houston TX apart from other concurrent
filmic poetics is an abounding embrace of all literary and
artistic practices, rather than an impulse to respond to one
literary trajectory.” Holland will be teaching a Cinepoetry
workshop on March 23, at 9:30 a.m. at UH-Downtown.
Saturday night features a screening of BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, a
documentary about poet, educator, dramatist, and activist Sonia
Sanchez, known for being one of the leaders of the Black Arts
BaddDDD is a thorough portrait of
Sanchez’s journey as a writer, legacy within the world of
poetry, and impact as an activist. Surrounding its narrative
core are readings and performances by Sanchez and others,
accompanied by jazz. BaddDDD screens Saturday, March 23 at 7
p.m. at UH-Downtown and Sunday, March 24 at 4:25 p.m. at MATCH.
REELpoetry will feature two short
Robert Frank films centered around the Beats, Pull my Daisy
(1959) and This Song for Jack (1983). After the films,
REELpoetry will feature a Writers in the Schools (WITS) video,
and a poetry performance featuring poet Stalina Villareal and
vocalist Ivette Roman. Outspoken Bean will premiere
#midweekstanzas Season 3.
WEEKEND EVENT PLANNER Here are the top 10 things to do in Houston
By Craig D. Lindsey
Mar 21, 2019, 6:00 am Idina Menzel
Frozen star Idina Menzel will bring a cool performance to
Houston. Photo by Natasha Desai
Space City fans, do you like Mars Rovers?
This Saturday, dozens of Houston-area elementary- and
middle-school students will gather at the University of Houston
Student Center South Houston Room to wrap up a six-week mission
to build a model rover for a science mission on the surface of
Mars. Their innovative creations, which are supposed to be made
from $25 worth of common household items (toilet paper, aluminum
foil, paper towels, etc.) will be displayed during the 2019 Mars
Rover Celebration, starting at 9 am.
If you're not in a space-age kind of mood, here are some other
things going on:
Thursday, March 21 Cocktails & Conversations at The Health Museum
It looks like The Health Museum is looking to get people into
their operation — and getting them to know more about their
bodies — by promising booze. The museum will host its first
Cocktails & Conversations event during Free Family Thursday.
Susan L. Perkins, curator of the traveling exhibition The Secret
World Inside You; and Dr. Herbert L. DuPont, president and CEO
of the Kelsey Research Foundation, will discuss micro biomes.
Atash Kadeh Temple Grand Opening/Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony
Have you ever heard of the 4,000-year-old Zoroastrian faith?
It's a monotheistic faith with roots in the Persian Empire that
operates on the ideals of “good thoughts, good words and good
deeds” and “there is only one path – the path of truth.” Those
who practice this religion around these parts will be happy to
learn that the Atash Kadeh Temple -- the first of its kind in
the U.S. — will be opening its doors this weekend. This gives
them a sacred and quiet place for worship and meditation. 7:20
Friday, March 22 The Bunny Photo Experience at Katy Mills Mill
The Easter Bunny is coming to town, people. This is not a drill!
Ol' bunny will be doing photo ops at Katy Mills Mall, starting
this Friday and continuing through Saturday, April 20. Not only
will kids have the chance to visit with the bunny and take home
a treasured snapshot of the fun occasion, people with all
spectrums of special needs can enjoy this holiday tradition
through sensory-friendly, Caring Bunny events on Sunday, March
31 and Sunday, April 7. 11 am.
Five Funny French Films at MFAH
It's that time of year when the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
aims to bring in cinephile Francophiles with a quintet of
tummy-tickling, French comedies screening this weekend. This
year, the museum has four recently released films, featuring
performances from such stars as Melanie Laurent, Miou-Miou, and
Oscar winner Jean Dujardin. There will be also be a screening of
the 1938 film The Baker's Wife (La femme du boulanger), which
Orson Welles once called "a perfect movie." 7 pm and 9:15 pm (5
All weekend long, the international film and poetry event known
as REELpoetry will feature documentaries, artist cinefilms and
videos shown at multiple venues. International, national,
regional, and local poets, as well as filmmakers and artists,
will be in attendance. Things will kick off at Brasil with a
Houston video screening, poetry performances, and a preview of
the Sonia Sanchez documentary BaddDDD Sonia Sanchez, which will
screen on Saturday and Sunday. 8:30 pm.
Saturday, March 23 Theatre Under The Stars 50th Anniversary Season Gala
Do you ever think Idina Menzel is fed up with the Adele Dazeem
jokes by now? We're asking because Menzel will be the headlining
performer at Theatre Under The Stars's 50th Anniversary Season
Gala, and it just had us thinking about that strange time John
Travolta introduced the Frozen star by that name at the Oscars.
Anyway, this evening honoring TUTS’ past board chairs and
presidents will also feature silent and live fundraising
auctions. 6:30 pm.
Mark C. Austin's Birthday Charity Concert at Heights Theater
As the manager for such phenomenal, local bands as The Tontons,
Mark C. Austin has made it his priority to make sure everybody
knows Houston is bubbling with top-notch, musical talent. Those
who would like to thank him for his efforts can attend his 42nd
birthday party this weekend, which also doubles as charity
concert, with all the proceeds benefitting Life Gift of Houston.
Dumpstaphunk will serve as the headlining band, with DJ Sun
working the turntables. 7-11 pm.
Da Camera presents Mark Guiliana
Mark Guiliana, one of the world's leading drummers and recipient
of the Best Jazz Drummer title in 2017's Modern Drummer Readers
Poll, is making his debut appearance in Houston on Saturday.
He'll be performing with his newest project Space Heroes,
featuring bassist Chris Morrissey and saxophonists Mike Lewis
and Jason Rigby. According to Guiliana, "space" is referring to
the space he and his crew will be exploring since there's not a
guitarist or keyboardist in this quartet. 8 pm.
Sunday, March 24 Cigna Sunday Streets 2019 Spring Season
Cigna Sunday Streets starts up another season of giving people
some outdoor fun around here. They'll be hitting Midtown and
Alief in April and May, respectively, but, for this weekend,
they're gonna take over The Heights. Part bike tour, part
walking tour, this street shindig promotes outdoor activities
and health with a friendly dose of community, as well as also
offer an economic stimulus for the neighborhood. Noon.
KPFT Birthday Benefit Concert at the Heights Theater
Somehow, some way, KPFT, everybody's favorite, community-based
radio station, has made it to its 49th birthday. And they're
celebrating with a concert bash, featuring Ruthie Foster, Jimmie
Dale Gilmore, Rosie Flores, Charlie Faye & the Fayettes, and The
Peterson Brothers. The crew from GenerAsian Radio will be laying
down world beats to kick things off. Proceeds from ticket sales
will help provide much-needed support for KPFT. 4-9 pm.