Every year, the Madison Arts and Literature Laboratory hosts the Midwest Video Poetry Fest, a two-day event featuring local and international artists.
This year’s event, which sold out its first night, showcased 29 video poems and four live performances from filmmakers and poets that included Madison locals and European imports. Audience members participated in a Q&A with the artists after the show.
The Midwest Poetry Fest selected diverse works from both artistic mediums, including Dawn Westlakes’ “For the Skeptical,” a video poem with a hip-hop feel, and Pamela Falkenberg’s and Jack Cochran’s silent demonstration of “Hypnic Jerk.”
Although the event exhibited the talent of poets and filmmakers alike, its uniqueness came in the collaboration between the two mediums. By pairing artists with one another, the Arts and Literature Laboratory was able to provide an experience that allowed audience members and creators to enjoy two art forms simultaneously.
Aaron Granat, filmmaker for Dana Maya’s poem "Hallways,” emphasized the power of the combination of film and poetry:
“The two can create this symbiotic relationship where they synthesize something that’s greater than the sum of their parts,” Granat said.
The event also exhibited work from University of Wisconsin-Madison alumni Michelle Kelley, who completed much of her film “Davenport” at UW-Madison.
“I wouldn’t have made this film without UW,” Kelley said. “Had I not been in the program and had instructors that encouraged me to pursue a really grueling, pain-staking, challenging workload, then I wouldn't have done this.”
Other artists found similar creativity and inspiration from their homefront. Milwaukee native Gabrielle Cisneros, creator of film, “Gaps,” said her artistic exploration led her to find ingenuity in the Midwest.
The Midwest feels “existential,” Cisneros said, joking that “the slowness of the Midwest just leads to too much thinking.”
It’s something that can be pretty useful as an artist, she added.