Poetry in Motion (film)

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Poetry in Motion
Poetry in Motion.jpg
Film poster
Directed byRon Mann
CinematographyRobert Fresco
Edited byPeter Wintonick
Release date
  • 1982 (1982)
Running time
91 minutes

Poetry in Motion is a 1982 Canadian documentary film directed by Ron Mann featuring contemporary North American poetry and music. Featured are some of the Black Mountain poets, Beats, minimalist poets, and avant-garde poets. It was released in theaters, later being distributed on VHS, LaserDisc, and DVD. [1] An extended CD-ROM version was also released. [2]


Poetry in Motion is Mann's second feature film after Imagine the Sound. While watching John Giorno and William S. Burroughs at a rock club, Mann discovered Giorno's Dial-A-Poem recordings during a break in the performance. The director later decided to create an anthology of "post-Beat" poets for a film. His idea was based on the poem anthology publication The New American Poetry 1945–1960 by Donald Allen.[3] The first poet to say that they were interested in being in the film was Allen Ginsberg.[4] Almost 40 poets performed more than 75 poems, and filmmaker Emile de Antonio helped cut down the filmed material to 90 minutes long. The film is interspersed with parts of an interview with Charles Bukowski. Performers include Allen Ginsberg, Kenward Elmslie, and Anne Waldman.[3] A CD-ROM version was released with poems which were never in the film. All 47 hours of footage are held at the Art Gallery of Ontario.[4]


The film was originally released in theaters.[5] It was later released on VHS, LaserDisc, and DVD. It was released on VHS in 1986 and on DVD in 2002.[4][6]


A review in the book Of-Hollywood Movies says, "If you aren't a student of contemporary poetry, Poetry in Motion serves as an excellent introduction. If you are, it's orgasmic".[7] The film has been criticized for including only four Canadian poets, but proponents stated that "the film is a new genre that elides criticism based in nationalism".[5]


  1. ^ Amazon.com
  2. ^ Poetry in Motion, By Ron Mann on Vimeo
  3. ^ a b Diggory, Terrence (2009). Encyclopedia of the New York School Poets. Infobase Publishing. p. 382. ISBN 9781438119052.
  4. ^ a b c Nester, Daniel (April 11, 2012). "Still Moving". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Ruth Lerner, Loren (1997). Canadian Film and Video: A Bibliography and Guide to the Literature, Volume 1; Volume 7. University of Toronto Press. p. 1182. ISBN 9780802029881.
  6. ^ "Poetry in Motion (1982)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  7. ^ Skorman, Richard (1989). Off-Hollywood Movies: A Film Lover's Guide. Harmony Books. p. 256. ISBN 0517568632.

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