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Poetry in Motion (1982)

Helen Adam , Miguel Algarín , Ron Mann  |  NR |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Helen Adam, Miguel Algarín, Amiri Baraka, Ted Berrigan, Charles Bukowski
  • Directors: Ron Mann
  • Producers: Ron Mann, John Giorno, Murray Sweigman
  • Format: Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Homevision
  • DVD Release Date: July 23, 2002
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000067IY5
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #304,020 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Poetry in Motion" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Over one hour of additional performances seen here for the first time
  • Interview with Ron Mann

Editorial Reviews

Award winning director Ron Mann filmed over 75 poets and writers for what AMERICAN FILM called "the Woodstock of Poetry". Ginsberg, Burroughs, Baraka, Giorno, Ondaatje, Bukowski, and Di Prima are just a few of the "beat" poets featured for the first time in this groundbreaking film. Through the spoken word they reinvented language giving a fresh, loud voice to an era contending with major change. Like Walt Whitman before them, these poets felt their world deeply, and sought the assemblage of words to bemoan its injustices and celebrate its multitudinous beauty. For younger generations Poetry in Motion is one of the few remaining documents that capture the genius and innovations of post-modern American poetry. Home Vision Entertainment is proud to present this well-crafted documentary on DVD for the first time.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetry Brought to Life May 31, 2002
"Poetry in Motion" is an early documentary by Ron Mann, who is now more widely known for his documentaries "Grass" and "Comic Book Confidential". As with most of Mann's documentaries, he partly uses this film as an excuse to explore "alternative culture" by meeting with people he admires and capturing it all on film (something most people would love to be able to do for a living). But, as always with Mann, the product is meaningful and insightful, as well as entertaining and educational for anyone with an interest in the arts and culture, and not self-indulgent or fluffy.
In some of the most interesting parts of the film, Charles Bukowski bravely dismisses most poetry, including most poems considered to be classics, as boring and pretentious and lacking in any meaning to the average person, and is equally critical of most people making a living as poets. In fact, his rant strongly reflects the feelings (usually not so well expressed) of most people I knew in highschool. But while Bukowski makes a great point, the rest of the film manages to prove that at least some poets are not guilty of such crimes as it brings their works to life.
Most of the film consists of various poets, some unfortunately now departed, performing one of their poems, plus there are a few scenes wherein several of them explain their philosophies about poetry and its performance.
The performance styles of each poet varies as greatly as the contents of their poems. Some poets are accompanied by background music or actually turn their poems into songs. Others incorporate dance or other visuals. Others merely read out their poems (some, e.g. Jonathan Carroll, with more feeling than others), sometimes proving that a poem is an intrinsically beautiful thing without a big production.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good look at poetry as performance art. July 26, 2007
By Annette
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Poetry is subjective and therefore difficult to say what one individual finds good or bad another would agree with. My opinion of the poetry presented in the film aside, this film presented a good look at various styles of poetry. Some of the poets are so long winded that you lose interest in the performance and what they are saying. Then there are those whose poetry and/or style are well worth wading through the others. All in all this is a good retrospective of the emergence of and use of various styles of poetry and poetry as performance art.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars RE More Poetry December 14, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
This is a well intended video, that relies too much on performance & not enough on the poetry itself. Strong appearances by Bukowski, Berrigan & Waldman make it worth seeing. I would have liked to have seen more like these. But instead there is too much singing & back up bands. Not all poets are good performers. The ultimate performance is on the page not the stage anyway, but here the performances are taken out of context. It tries too hard to be the Woodstock of poetry. I would like to see more of what these poets did best.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Musicality of Words August 9, 2006
Poetry in Motion is a blast from the poetry past and shows poets struggling to get their ideas across in a variety of musical mediums. While the methods they use are entertaining to observe, I started to miss the silence needed to contemplate the subtleties of the language being used. The words flew by so fast and were crowded out with music and a leaning towards a more speedy presentation. At times poets played with ideas and created musical instruments to give background music and dimension to the readings. One poet wore a tie that played like a miniature piano.

Some of the poets seemed to be somewhat uncomfortable with the transparency of being on camera. As if by reading their poems, suddenly they were more intimate with the audience than before. Helen Adams came completely unglued in front of the camera, as if possessed by some muse. Her highly entertaining and eccentric style is even more enhanced when you start to observe her office surroundings. She playfully feeds off her poems and hardly reads them at all. She truly performs her poems with an advanced memory and captures all the subtleties of the language and sends your imagination on quite a journey. There are two readings on the DVD, one is in the "additional footage" section and could be considered a bit of a ghost story.

Throughout this DVD you can observe poets stepping out of their private writing lives and in front of the camera where they tell their stories, explain how they became poets and explore their artistic freedom with audience participation. This may inspire you to attend a poetry reading, read your poems out loud or to record your poetry on CD.

~The Rebecca Review
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beats live on February 24, 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I have had Poetry in Motion since the 80s, but on VHS tape. Now, no one has a VCR anymore, so I had to go to DVD. I'm glad I did; I had been worrying that the tape would break. For those of you who are not aware of this video, let me tell you that it is well worth seeing, particularly for the joy of seeing/hearing Ginsberg read and seeing/hearing a very young Tom Waits. There is a bit of grossness on there, thanks to Bukowski, and there is one annoying performance, but the rest is golden.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good old hippie poetry and interviews September 2, 2003
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Get this tape!! Steal it from a friend if necessary, but see it, especially if you were a child of the 60's or are interested in these kinky, highly creative citizens.
Seeing and hearing these talented writers read is just plain awesome!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Beat Poets
Nice to hear all the Beat Poets and some new faces performing their works.
Published 1 month ago by John Ziskowski
4.0 out of 5 stars A must for all Beat wannabe folk
Their poem, that of a group introduced as the Four Horsemen, were but one of so many, yet theirs was without words. Nice. Got to love a poem without words. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Dan E. Nicholas
2.0 out of 5 stars I expected more
I expected more. I purchased this film along with Slamnation and Fooling with Words. The film barely kept me engaged and the poetry and performances were lackluster. Read more
Published on October 8, 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars When can I get this on DVD
The world of VHS is over - bring on the DVD. This is one of the most fantastic group of poets ever assembled on one video. There should be move videos/DVDs for me to gobble up. Read more
Published on February 24, 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars i wont speak for the other reviewers
but every time this film is shown at a theater, i always see it because i love to find out what makes a poet a poet and what creative processes they use to make poetry... Read more
Published on January 24, 2001 by Erren Geraud Kelly
2.0 out of 5 stars The good, the bad, the Bukowski
"Poetry in Motion" somehow won an award for best documentary in the early '80s despite the seeming litmitations of not really being a documentary and also of not really... Read more
Published on July 3, 2000 by Joshua W Berk
4.0 out of 5 stars Early Eighties Poetry - A Slice of History
Fans of poetry will love seeing the famous poets read their work. Ginsberg sings "How To Meditate" and Bukowski is sprinkled throughout the film, giving advice to... Read more
Published on July 2, 2000 by Dennis Etzel Jr.
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