Friday, July 1, 2011

New Process Video: A Brain, a Heart, a Home, the Nerve

I have a new process video for you today! I received some very good feedback on my first process video (for the poem "Dissonance"), and thought I'd try again.

Just like the first time, I already knew I wanted to work with images by Tim Gough (I took a long time perusing his portfolio---there was one with a lion that I almost used, but went back to the first picture that had grabbed me). The image reminded me of a cave painting....a yeti and an aquaman warming their hands around a fire, perhaps.

I started thinking about fires, and that was my way into this poem. I changed the opening of this poem several times, as you'll see....I didn't know how far to go with the Oz stuff. An idea I keep circling back to is the concept of our needs being what we seek/bring to the world (not unlike in The Wizard of Oz...those characters are obsessed with attaining certain attributes from an external source, but because of their fixation, they are already armed with those strengths). And that warning that the Wizard shouts out: "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" I am always interested in how things work, so I would pay TONS of attention to the man behind the curtain.

Process Video 2: A Brain, a Heart, a Home, the Nerve (poem) from Hannah Stephenson on Vimeo.

Are there ideas you notice yourself circling around recently/always? Heard any inspiring music lately? This week I have been blissing out to Gayngs and Sigur Ros (an article about this to follow!). Hope you like this Being John Malkovich (well, Being Hannah Stephenson)-esque video. As always, thank you so much for reading, and for all the thought-provoking comments this week.


  1. I think it's awesome that you share your process openly and lovingly. :)

  2. I always enjoy seeing process images or, now, videos of how artists work, you included. The speed that your cursor moves makes your writing seem so effortless. I know, of course, it's not. Having completed that 30-day #Trust30 writing projected, I continue to have great admiration for your ability to write a new poem every day.

  3. Love this! So inspiring. Is there some special program you use to record your screen, or is it built into the Mac?

  4. It is fascinating to see somebody else's mode. I end up thinking how very differently we all work, yet all with the same goal...

  5. Thanks, everyone! I wanted to respond to Donna's question---it is easy to record your desktop with Quicktime. All you have to do is select "New Screen Recording" in the program (but to change the speed of the video, you'll need some kind of editing tool like iMovie).

  6. Hannah, it's always a pleasure getting a peek inside your amazing mind. I kind of wondered how you connected that image to your poem, now I know!

  7. You are a memory poet! I’ve never seen anything like this. A whole poem soups to nuts: inspiration, composition and revision, all self-contained in a virtual world. I watched both videos a couple of times it was so fascinating. It reminds me of a new-tech version of the William Stafford archives, but so much easier to follow. As with that voluminous repository, the “secret sauce” is never revealed (the great lines and thoughts just flow out while the branches and roots are like so many weeds and rocks carefully pruned and placed), and I find myself wondering too why certain word choices get changed (why “flimsy” yellow twine becomes “thin”, people no longer are “equipped with” limited tolerance but “possess” it, “each other” becomes “together”, etc.) There’s a certain precision of heart-centered thought at work there, what La Belette Rouge calls your “numinous mind” (I love that!), but it is, like all depictions of process I suppose, inscrutable.

    Bless you for the guts it takes to let others get so close. I couldn’t capture my process in this way even if I was willing to (which I’m not!). I rarely compose poems on the keyboard (though I "e-write" prose and blog comments almost exclusively). I rarely if ever find inspiration in art outside of the occasional line or poem (I’m into writing down the stuff that happens around me in tiny notebooks filled with alien hieroglyphics). I like difficult and noisy places to write (while driving is a favorite of mine), but like Dave Bonta I can’t write while music is playing. I also do mucho editing on blogger, both before and after I post (ever-mindful that the constant changes he required in expensive printer’s proofs literally killed Baudelaire – why not keep changing it if you can?) But besides all that, our processes are exactly the same!

    Thanks as well for updating your bloglist. I’m honored that a Huffpost poet links to me!

  8. Thanks, Hannah! I do also have iMovie, so I might give it a try. We were thinking it might be interesting to do with our new Reflex project - record the thought process for the blog. Never would have thought of it if not for your generous sharing of your process.

  9. oh wow, so I'm feeling a bit slow but I think I finally get that this is how you work.... what an amazing thing to witness Hannah. oh wow it's like I just peeked into your mind... hmmmmmm...



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