The film-poem (also called the poetic avant-garde film, verse-film or verse-documentary) is a label first applied to American avant-garde films released after World War II. During this time, the relationship between film and poetry was debated. James Peterson in Dreams of Chaos, Visions of Order said, "In practice, the film poem label was primarily an emblem of the avant-garde's difference from the commercial narrative film." Peterson reported that in the 1950s, overviews of avant-garde films "generally identified two genres: the film poem and the graphic cinema". By the 1990s, the avant-garde cinema encompassed the term "film-poem" in addition to different strains of filmmaking. Film-poems are considered "personal films" and are seen "as autonomous, standing apart from traditions and genres". They are "an open, unpredictable experience" due to eschewing extrinsic expectations based on commercial films. Peterson said, "The viewer's cycles of anticipation and satisfaction derive primarily from the film's intrinsic structure." The film-poems are personal as well as private: "Many film poems document intimate moments of the filmmaker's life."
- Peter Atkinson. "Poetic licence: Issues of signification and authorship in British television versedocumentary, 1986-96".
- Peterson 1994, p. 10
- Peterson 1994, p. 29
- Peterson 1994, p. 30
- Peterson 1994, p. 31
- Peterson 1994, p. 32
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