Before he closed the Good Times Book Shop in Port Jefferson, New York to move into semi-retirement, Michael Mart was the president of the Antiquarian Book Dealers Association of Long Island. While in the store one afternoon, he and Suffolk County Poet Laureate and published author George Wallace created Poetry Vlog.
Mart credits Apple’s Steve Jobs and Rocketboom’s Andrew Baron for inspiring him to create his own video blog. But it was only upon meeting Wallace, the editor and publisher of the online magazine PoetryBay, that he knew what he wanted to vlog about poetry.
Using Wallace’s connections to poets worldwide and Mart’s expertise with iMovie, the duo shot their first videos in Mart’s bookstore in April 2006, culminating in a host of videos, created and user-submitted, that have been flooding the vlog on a weekly basis ever since.
The site is quite simple, which serves the poetry well. Having a poet simply sit in front of the camera with a nice background and usually just read his or her piece (rather than emote or “slam” it) makes the site a breath of fresh air. The introduction to each piece restates the site’s mission and gives some background on the poet and his or her work, with a helpful list of links below the site directing viewers to the poet’s publications and/or website.
Frequent contributor Edward Stever’s six poems range from the serious (“Sonogram at Four Months”) to the absurd (“Freudian Daydream”). The latter evokes some strange images of neon condoms being hurled at an inflatable doll. And another, “At the Bottom of It All,” breaks down all poetry barriers by describing the contents of a bathroom trash bin. I also got my kicks watching Edgar Carlson read his poems. He has quite an obsession with black and white and doesn’t quite look like your typical poet. Mankh is much more the stereotype here; his cadence has the iconic poetry slam vibe in his sexual poem, “The Night I Rose in Love.”
Viewers can leave anonymous analytical comments on each reading as well.
It’s easy to see why Mart tapped Wallace to be the site’s poetry editor. Not only did he provide the inspiration for the site, but he’s also a talented poet. His readings from his book, “When I Was Dead”, provide some of the vlog’s strongest moments. The style and content is contemporary and he relies heavily on imagery, which can be incredibly alluring, particularly towards the end of the excerpt he selected to share here.