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In 2009, at AWP in Chicago, a group named MotionPoems mounted a television near the elevator bank and aired some of their cutting-edge collaborations—poets and video artists working together to animate terrific poems. While everyone was rushing around to various sessions, I stood in front of that TV, mesmorized. Then when TriQuarterly switched from print production to an electronic format, I found its collection of video literature, curated at the time by John Bresland and containing primarily video essays but also several cinepoems.

Every time I chanced upon some new video literature, I was enthralled . . . the way a good documentary or feature film can make me forget it’s daylight outside the theater. Added to that magic was the voiceover, a narrator speaking directly to me, with all the poetry and finesse and artistry that I love about great literary writers.

If you asked me in the beginning to explain what video literature is, I would have turned directly to then IHLR Managing Editor, Landon Houle, who had explained it to a local talk-radio DJ: it’s similar to Paul Harvey’s “Like a Farmer” commercial, the ad that aired during Super Bowl XLVII and was so wildly popular that it spawned a slew of “artsy” commercials in the next two Super Bowls. Now, I can also tell you that video literature involves the juxtaposition of words with surprising images—there’s a conversation happening between language and picture in these pieces. And I also know that you can produce a piece of video literature on your cell phone or using the software that comes standard on every laptop or desktop computer these days. Try it!

Since 2013, IHLR has held an annual filmfest, and for the first time last year, it sold out. Here, in our inaugural DVD issue, we’ve collected our favorite pieces from those three festivals. We include video essays from Jacob Cutler, Joe Dornich, Paul Hunton, Joseph Johnston, Laura Marostica, Kristen Radtke, and Kirk Wisland; cinepoems from Trevino L. Brings Plenty, Heid E. Erdrich, and Rebecca Gayle Howell; and one cine-story, Landon Houle’s “One of Us.” Finally, we’ve also included an experimental piece by John Bresland, a “found” video essay featuring actual clips from Peyton Place and haiku from David Trinidad’s book Peyton Place: A Haiku Soap Opera. Bresland continues to be the leading figure in the video literature movement, offering workshops on the production of such films and starting the original collection at TriQuarterly. Now, Bresland has passed the torch, and Kristen Radtke manages the video submissions to TriQuarterly.

Watching the IHLR collection will show you why we’re so enamored with this new form. And every year, between January 1 and March 30, when we’re accepting video literature entries for our annual filmfest, you’ll know what we’re looking for. Every three years, we’ll include our favorites from the filmfests in a DVD issue. We hope to see your submissions, and we hope you enjoy the show!

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