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The Force of Poetry

A movie directed by Toni Seger

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'Art has a civilizing effect on people.'

  • Sep 6, 2009
Rating:
+3
Poet Timothy Victor Richardson has in this DVD taken poetry in general (and his own poetry from his volume of poems 'AFFLICTED LOVE') to a different level. Not satisfied to spread his very committed beliefs about poetry (and all of art) being necessary to the civilization of mankind by stopping with the printed page, he here in this DVD produced and directed by Toni Seger elects to talk to the audience about his concept of poetry in a conversational manner. The setting is one of Richardson simply sitting in a chair on a set, reading from a manuscript of notes about his philosophy, and then sharing his own poems by reading them while each of the unfolding poems is translated to phrases before our eyes. Richardson makes the understanding of his particular penchant for sonnets and odes and the manner in which he deals with rhyming a classroom feeling discussion. That part works very well.

Where the DVD falls a bit short is the rather monotone reading of the poetry by the man who wrote the words. While it is a pleasure to see and hear the poet himself (archival significance being one reason to record this), Richardson's delivery hardly gives his poems the ability to take flight. One is left wishing he had selected an actor to read the poems, leaving the discussion and the philosophy to Richardson. For example, one of his better poems, 'Narcissus in the Mall' has the potential of being tragically beautiful, yet here it sounds somewhat like a monotone grocery list.

Other poets are now reading their poetry on the various sites available on the computer - sites with such gentle dignity as [...] - it is another, more easily available method of hearing poetry read aloud. But the act of creating this DVD is a sound idea. This DVD can be transported to the classroom or the book club with ease and gives more insight into the art of writing poetry than many books of similar content. Grady Harp, September 09

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About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #42
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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Technology provides new ways to enjoy poetry. Film makes it possible for poetry to have a visual face. "The Force of Poetry" is a poetry reading and talk on the meaning, mechanics and significance of poetry. In an hour long program, poet Timothy Victor Richardson whose work impressed Nobel Laureate Joseph Brodsky, starting in 1986, reads from his collection, "Afflicted Love". The film goes far beyond a poetry reading. It uses the visual medium of television to put poetry on the screen, line by line, as it is being read. Further, as Richardson reads, lines appear on the screen allowing the viewer to watch the poem grow and the shape of its stanzas emerge and when the poet explains the complexities of formal forms, lines are highlighted to explain rhythm and rhyme.

Richardson enjoys using verse forms like sonnets and odes. As he explains different forms, lines are color coated to show rhymes or other aspects of the poetry he is describing. Meter is discussed in a segment in which Richardson uses a jazz practice pad to tap out rhythms.

Asked why poetry is so important, Richardson quotes Joseph Brodsky: "...verse writing is an extraordinary accelerator of consciousness, of thinking, of comprehending the universe." Then, he relates a story of how one of Brodsky's poems gave a prisoner in the Gulag the strength to survive. "We shouldn't take our freedoms for granted or confuse art with entertainment. Great art can possess the moral force to save lives. In the aggregate, art can keep...

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Director: Toni Seger
Screen Writer: Timothy Victor Richardson
DVD Release Date: June 15, 2009
Runtime: 57 minutes
Studio: CreateSpace
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