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Crossing Genre Boundaries

by Sean Arthur Joyce, 14 November, 2016

In a time when crossing gender boundaries and reinventing them is a relevant social issue, the same is true of crossing genre boundaries. I began my writing career as a poet 30 years ago, when the path to recognition as a poet was very limited—a prescribed set of literary journals in what was in Canada a very small literary community. Now with the advent of digital technology, especially affordable High Definition video, poets such as myself are able to branch out, seek new audiences and develop our craft in a way previously unthinkable.

Let me explain. In 2001, with a grant from BRAVOFact Foundation, I created my first poetry video, The Muse: Chameleon Fire. At that time a state-of-the-art digital editing studio could still cost you tens of thousands of dollars. And in fact, the majority of my $10,000 budget for production then went to editing alone, to produce just six minutes of edited video. Now with the release of my new poetry video, Dead Crow: Prologue, I've been able to produce a video that is twice as long, and with twice the resolution quality, for a fraction of the cost of that first video.

This means that instead of being daunted by production costs I can now plan for a sequel to Dead Crow without having to raise tens of thousands of dollars. And it allows me to fully explore the intersection between literary poetry, mythic storytelling and acting. At a time when audiences are conditioned to expect more and more visual spectacle, with fewer and fewer people actually reading poetry, video provides a vital bridge that can not only keep poetry alive, but reinvigorate it. I see more and more poetry videos turning up on YouTube and I think we may be on the cusp of reviving the ancient art of poetry in a new and exciting way.

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