flightpath is a cinematic video-poem featuring the art of Tehran artist Shirin Pilehvari in contrast with pristine, old-growth forest in Limehouse, Ontario. My function was writer (poet) & director. Please note full credits in the video and on my YouTube channel for a list of creative collaborators in visual art, music, poetry, narration, translation and editing.
Our core team included Eric Gerrard (camera) and Konrad Skreta (audio and video editing). We created seven video poems between 2009-2013.
In 2020 Konrad Skreta and I collaborated on a 32 minute video poem featuring his experimental animation of my digital collages (and poetry).
When I created the ‘wordless poem’ Never More Together (120 linocut prints – The Porcupine’s Quill) in 2014 I sometimes needed to answer questions like, ‘How is this a poem?’
So I wrote the poem Meditations on a Wordless Poem. In earlier versions I related it to the silent process of carving in lino and creating non-linear poetry via images. I recall describing how I warmed lino under a hot lamp (during a heat wave!) so it would be easier to carve. In the poem found below I abandoned such descriptions, focusing more on the metaphysical. One thing leads to another.
In 2020 Konrad Skreta and I co-directed a 32:28 poetry/art (animation) video based on this poem. Because of Covid, and disruptions, or so I tell myself, I am just now getting around to submitting the video (titled Ode to a Wordless Poem) to festivals.
I watched it again today. Konrad embellished my poetry and images (text-art & visual poetry) by composing ever-shifting & evocative geometric and organic designs. & Within a landscape of psyche, perception and shadow the music too, as well as Konrad’s soundscape, is hypnotic. One thing leads to another.
Meditations on a Wordless Poem
The poem is an image & the image is a poem
Poem is an image passing through the body.
Image contains the rhythmic incantation of voice manipulating shapes
And visual balance –
Image passes into and through the body, embracing rhythmic incantations.
The alchemy of poetry transfigures a blank page into a sequence
Of comprehension –
A sequence of psychic incantation configures the blank page.
The process of transfiguring dross and creating gold
Is recorded two-dimensionally –
A sequence of shapes and visual balance enter your body as
Symbols meet texture in a relationship spanning theory and time.
Theory and time, in place of words, pass through your body.
Epic poetry resembles line and movement
An ancient voice extends invisible realities into song
Songs of prehistory rush forward, intersecting with our surveillance state.
A visual poem is like a city
As the lights go off, a new sound emerges of all that has gone before
Missing words, animals, plants and civilizations are replaced
Epic poetry rushes forward containing new information.
Poetry, pulsing, aims within a sequence of images
Invisible line responds, summoning persona, questing,
Transmitting erotic signals
Light hollows any false reflection
New information transmits erotic signals
The lights in a city fade
Street by street.
As the image is read the pulse of the work transfigures
Surrealism speaks of fragrance and desire
Alchemy embodies fragrance
The alchemical poem juxtaposes human need and the impossible
Human desire interfaces with the surveillance state
The white of the page recorded two-dimensionally
The fragrance of light a dreaming of desire.
Subconscious language is dream entwining both image and word within
Phenomena as natural as the elements.
Original idea & mind entwine both image and dream
Negative space surrounds the image suggesting a missing fragment of verse.
Ecology and psyche blur in the composition of the wordless poem
Suggesting a missing fragment of verse.
The alchemical juxtaposes with the social.
Missing plants and animals pass through your body, a type of social architecture
A type of shorthand evolves, culturally recognized as poetry.
Stanzas and passages translate visually within atmospheres of memory.
Images float in a psychic space of precognition.
Pictograms evolve in the composition of the wordless poem, as ecology and psyche blur.
The fragrance of light is an image passing through your body &
Recognized culturally, in social architecture, as a poem.
Blink your eyes while you turn the page in torchlight & you realize
A poetry video from eight years ago I made with a professional camera operator and video/audio editor, location sound mixer, a drummer, public domain silent film (masters!) footage, Spanish & French translation, urban footage…
Dedicated to my (late) brother Larry, whose birthday is 2/22, who cried over his black fish floating belly up, who slipped climbing the crabapple tree & gashed his belly open with a nail. We passed through the cage of black & white TV broadcasting one Friday late into the night and throughout the weekend until a funeral on Monday.
I think I found the spiral Xray online a couple of years ago. Of course , neither am I claiming any copyright credit for the photographs of J.F.K.’s funeral. A detail from a still photo of a performer riding a horse in my video poem is also in the mix. I will take some credit for that.
I used excerpts from my mother’s journal(s) in some of the poetry. The Super 8 footage is from Kashmir & Europe in the 1960s courtesy T. Nanavati. I remember watching the family black and white television the night of the Kennedy assassination with my mother. The haunting never left me. The Beatles had not yet arrived. The war in Vietnam, ironically enough, was just about to kick in high gear. My father spent the weekend deer hunting. Years later, reading Robert Bly’s Iron John, this hit me like a sledgehammer. Although I view the event through a political prism I choose to deal with it in the context of mythic time.
Director: Steven McCabe
Director of Photography: Eric Gerard
Editor: Cliff Caines
Chanting: Sandra Phillips
Electronic/ambient music: DreamSTATE
Narration: Lynn Harrigan & Tanya Nanavati
Performers: Preethi Gopinath/Tanya Nanavati/Nicole Pillar/Paula Skimin
Poetry: Steven McCabe
Sound & online: Konrad Skręta
My latest video poem (or film poem if you prefer). We originally filmed and recorded the drumming over two years ago for a different project which never saw the light of day. In the meantime I become interested in juxtaposing silent footage with live action. I realized we could use silent movie title cards for the poetry and not compete with the sound of drumming. The poem Transfiguration was originally published in my 1999 collection Radio Picasso (watershedBooks). My poetry videos can be found @ http://www.youtube.com/mccabesteven