Multimedia Poetry Course at GrubStreet

During the fall term I had the opportunity to teach Multimedia Poetry, the first multi-week course of its kind to be offered at GrubStreet. In this six-week class we explored and experimented with multimedia poetry—poetry combined with video, still images, audio, typography, animation, movement, live performance, and other content forms. Each week we viewed and discussed example works—many from Moving Poems, as well as other sources—paying close attention to author-made multimedia projects (as opposed to collaborations). We then brainstormed and began drafting or adapting our own poems for the week’s project assignment. Students were encouraged to experiment with whatever tech or traditional tools they had available to them. Each week in class students shared their previous week’s projects for workshop discussion.


Videopoet Martha McCollough (see her works in TriQuarterly here and in Moving Poems here was a guest visiting artist at our final multimedia poetry class, during which she viewed and commented on several class member projects, plus showed several of her works then discussed techniques, process, markets and more with us.


Below is a sampling of works created by members of the Fall 2014 Multimedia Poetry class. Enjoy!


And be sure to watch for Multimedia Poetry in upcoming GrubStreet course offerings!



Erica Charis, poet


Twice Shy, 2014, still photography and audio 

Artist’s comments on this project: This short poem seemed the perfect companion to my friend Courtney Benbernou's series of photographs "On My Lips." I paired the reading with selected works that seemed to enhance the lines using iMovie's slideshow feature. This was my first video poem project.


Storm & Silence, 2014, video and audio

Artist’s comments on this project: This sonnet was commissioned by Lisa Emmons as a prelude for a dance work she choreographed by the same name. The poem was included in the program at the premier of the work  as performed by Form Contemporary Dance Theatre at the Hamilton Fringe Festival. I used the footage from the dance performance and an original musical work that was also commissioned for the work and over-laid a reading of the poem, giving the three works a chance to interact more directly.




Kathryn Grove, Interdisciplinary Artist


December 20, 2011, 2014, video

Artist’s comments on this project: This work is an expression of the struggles between lightness and dark, and the string of beauty between the two. Originally written as a stream of consciousness piece in 2011, I revisited this work in 2014 and adapted a section of it for this film. My hope is that the intimate nature of the film and its ability to amplify mood enhances the piece and allows the viewer to be further enveloped by the work.




Julia Hubbell, Multimedia Artist


After the Morning, 2014, video and audio 

Artist ’s comments on this project: How do we move on and begin again? How do we accept the things from our past as parts of our lives without running away from our true selves? In relationships, I have found that when things don't work out the way we want them too, it is a struggle to change ourselves and what went wrong without feelings of anger and self-hate. 


Whatever Will Be, 2014, video and audio 

Artist’s comments on this project: In this work I asked each participant to name three things they worry about in their lives and to pose with an object(s) that they would take from their home if it were on fire. I wanted to create portraits of people exhibiting their greatest worries about themselves and/or the world juxtaposed with the one or two things they feel they would actually need in a high anxiety situation.  




Sarah Rushford, Interdisciplinary Artist

Whip, 2014, video and audio

Artist’s comments on this project: This work includes a strange rhyming poem about horsehair with abstract shots of horsehair as a textile. The language and video content seem to fold back on themselves, as a whip does.


Boys win faster, 2014, collage

It is his cold rain to eat, 2014, collage

Artist’s comments on this project: On the left is the unaltered scan of a page from a grammar school workbook, and on the right is a page with identical tatters, tears, and marks as the original that presents a poem that appropriates, edits, and rearranges content from the original page. The poem is an interpretation of subtextual meaning of the workbook page.





Featured Image By Perfíndigo (Own work) CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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About the Author

Holly Thompson is the author of the young adult verse novels The Language Inside and Orchards, winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature (both Delacorte/Random House), and the middle grade verse novel Falling into the Dragon's Mouth (Henry Holt). She is also author of the adult novel Ash (Stone Bridge Press), the picture books The Wakame Gatherers (Shen's/Lee & Low) Twilight Chant (Clarion), and One Wave at a Time (Albert Whitman), and she compiled and edited Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction--An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories (Stone Bridge Press) to support teens in 2011 tsunami impacted areas of Tohoku. Originally from Massachusetts and a longtime resident of Japan, she holds a B.A. in biology and an M.A. from the NYU Creative Writing Program and serves as Co-Regional Advisor for SCBWI Japan. Holly visits schools and offers workshops in the U.S., Japan and internationally, and teaches creative writing at Grub Street, Yokohama City University and U.C. Berkeley Extension.

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