On Having My Poem Turned Into A “Motionpoem” Film
by Linda Back McKay, Becketwood Member
With the contest guidelines in one hand and my newly completed poem, “Carousel” in the other, I knew they were meant for each other.
Minnesota poets had been invited to submit one unpublished poem on the subject of “Arrivals & Departures” in celebration of the newly-renovated St. Paul Union Depot. The winning poems would be made into short films by Minnesota filmmakers and projected across the entire front of the Depot building.
The announcement read: Motionpoems and public artist Todd Boss present “Arrivals & Departures at St. Paul Union Depot” a colossal 3D poetry film installation that magically transforms the façade of one of St. Paul’s most impressive landmark buildings.
I had seen some motionpoems, deeply wanted to be one of the poets someday and knew that probably would never happen. But it did. In February I found that I was one of eleven finalists. In April I became one of the four winners. The filmmakers at Pixel Farm had chosen my poem to transform into a motionpoem.
On October 10 and 11, as darkness fell, the four films were projected upon the building from the parking ramp across the street.
Hearing the words of my poem boom through huge speakers like an important announcement was humbling. I had known it would be big but didn’t know I would feel so dwarfed by the experience. Standing there taking it all in, I was taken into the film. It encompassed me. I was light and color, spinning, riding, yearning, doomed, and then, slowly, lowered down into the earth. It was a very close encounter.
The film was exactly what I had in mind – and more so. I think the film helped me peek around the corners of my poem, and under the floorboards, to see further interpretations. Poetry is communication and my messages were successfully conveyed. For me, the additional images, sounds and emotions are multicolored icing on a sumptuous cake.
I used to think of public art as something nice that is just there. I never gave much thought to its interactive potential. During “Carousel” children danced on the grass to the music. People walking by gave double-takes before stopping and gazing up and the building. Some shrugged and kept walking but most seemed mesmerized and watched the whole thing. Seeing so many people seeing my poem, I was struck at how far-reaching and powerful this art form can be. And, as Todd Boss has been known to say, it’s putting poetry right in people’s faces where they can’t ignore it. I believe the world would be a better, kinder place if everyone appreciated and wrote poetry.