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Getting Your Feet Wet

Mood: Celebratory | Drinking: *Clink*

water1

Come on in, the water’s fine!

I’m so very pleased to introduce you to ladonnawitmer.com, version 4.0. She’s been a long time coming — nearly a year, in fact, and I couldn’t be happier that I finally get to show her off to the world.

I’d like to give you a quick tour, but first I have to thank a few people who pulled a lot of strings and spent a lot of their late-night and weekend time to make this happen.

First, let’s talk about my far-away friend Eric Oehrl, working his Flashmaster magic out there in the wilds of Michigan. The nifty navigation over there on the left? That’s Eric. The amazingly awesome Flash movie that now introduces this site (lovingly dubbed “the cinébyte”) — that’s Eric, too. EO, my friend, without you, none of this would have been as moving. I bow down before your mad skilz. You rule.

Next, the ever-lovely Miz Kathy Azada. My partner in various crimes, misdemeanors and art projects. Kathy has already brought one miracle to life in the form of our art & poetry book, The Secrets of Falling. And have you seen all those must-collect postcards in our shiny new Store? Those are all designed by the fabulous Kathy, too. My friend, you make all things lovely. Thanks for dreaming with me.

None of these dot com shenanigans would ever have happened if not for one mister Chris Brown, my fearless web guru. It was he who came to me sometime last year and said, “We’re gonna redo your website.” And I was all, “Pshaw, why? I like it the way it is.” And he said, “No, trust me, we can make it better.” And I’m so friggin’ glad I listened! Chris, if this site doesn’t get you a truckload of new clients, nothing will. Thank you a thousand times over.

If you’re wondering who shot all these gorgeous underwater photos, may I direct your attention to my all-too-often behind-the-scenes husband, Bruce. One day last summer whilst on vacation in Mexico, I pulled a red ball gown out of my suitcase, handed him a waterproof camera and said, “Let’s go down to the pool.” One hour and lots of “1-2-3-holdyourbreath” counts later, we had a roll of film (yes, old school) full of aqua and red. (Check out Bruce’s gallery to see all the photos from the underwater shoot.) Thanks for going along with my crazy scheme, Bruce. As always, I owe you one.

Be sure to click around this site from top to bottom, starting with the home url, www.ladonnawitmer.com, where you’ll be instantly immersed in a mini-cinépoem called “Submersion” that will take you on an underwater adventure. Be sure you have your sound turned on for that one.

You’ll notice that some things that are familiar — The Writer still contains some foul language pertaining to one Mr. Johnny Depp, but check out the wee seahorse for a new treat. The Library still contains music from Franky & Wil, along with poems for your reading pleasure, but the poems are new.

The Others still contains links to lots of old friends, and a few new ones, too. And you can still send me an email via Says You, but you can also now comment on this blog — I know lots of you have asked me about that over the years, so you’d better make use of it!

Speaking of this blog, She Says is now a fully functional weblog with an RSS feed and everything, so you can add me to your blog roll and all that fun stuff. You can also search the archives via keyword for old entries, if you’re into that sort of thing. All of the old entries made the migration to their shiny new home.

The Cinépoems have a lovely new page with an upgraded and higher-quality video player for your viewing pleasure. We’ll be making ongoing improvements to that page over the next few months, too, because we’re not satisfied with mere perfection. Must. Keep. Tweaking.

Oh, and notice that the newest cinépoem is one you haven’t seen yet… Bright Neon Love was shot in Las Vegas over the holidays and gets to debut with the big site unveil, that lucky little poem.

The Gallery has been completely retooled — all the old photos are still there, but they’re much easier to view now. There are new photos, too, from Bruce, from a fabulous young photographer named Caitlin Bellah, and from recent cinépoem shoots as well, so be sure to check that out.

And finally — my pet project — our Store. My two books, Shedding the Angel Skin and The Secrets of Falling are available for purchase (and well worth the asking price), as always, but now you can also get yourself some of those pretty postcards I mentioned earlier, as well as a few photographic art prints.

The Store lives on etsy.com, which is an amazing site in its own right and one of my new favorite things ever. Lots of very cool artists hawking their wares on Etsy, so be sure to explore. After you purchase a book and some postcards, of course.

So that’s the tour. Please make yourself at home, get a little wet, and let me know what you think. I’m off to go splash around a little myself. I just don’t get tired of playing with all these new toys!

-Lo, who should mention that it’s not really about drowning.

Something in the Air

Mood: balmy | Drinking: just-brewed iced tea

beelike

Spring. Love. Change. Whatever you wanna call it, there’s definitely something in the air, tingling along your scalp, settling in your stomach. Things, they are a-happenin’.

I know you don’t want to believe it, since you’ve been hearing this for awhile now, but big new things are imminent, IMMINENT I tell you, in this webspace!

My web guru Chris, design maven Kathy, and Flash superstar Eric have been busy as proverbial bees these last weeks, and even longer, getting something special ready to live and breathe.

We’re down to the final tweaks, the last-minute changes, the buffing and polishing now. I re-recorded some poetry trax at Chris’s house just yesterday morning (because the first track wasn’t perfect enough for you, dear reader). Feel free to start your countdown.

Other things are lining up, too. In cinépoetry land, Michelle and I have ambitious plans for the next shoot, and we’re meeting with brave volunteers Jimmy & Emanuela on Wednesday to lay down some vocal trax in preparation for that.

Meanwhile, when the shiny new site launches, a new cinépoem will be piggybacking. Bright Neon Love, shot in Vegas over the holidays, is in the can and ready to make your acquaintance, so don’t neglect The Cinépoems page when you’re exploring the new site.

Things are afoot for me personally, too. Some big decisions, some big dreams, and some not so boldprint events that I’ll be babbling about here shortly.

But for now, I must beg your patience. It’s all very much worth the wait, I promise. Any day now…

-Lo, who stuffs sleeves full of tricks.

Behind the Cinépoetry

Mood: lagging behind | Drinking:  Lipton’s

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Someone recently asked me to explain the poem-cinépoem relationship. As in, which comes first? Are poems written specifically for a shoot, or does the shoot use a particular poem that lends itself to visual aid?

The answer is Yes. Both happen.

There have been times when we just want to film a new cinépoem. So I’ll rifle through my stack of finished poetry until I find one that strikes my fancy. Maybe its one that reminds me of a certain place or scenery. Maybe it’s a topic that’s close to my heart at the time. Maybe it just sounds like something that would be interesting to interpret through moving pictures. Whatever it is that I’m looking for, one particular poem will usually rise to the top of the stack.

Other times, I know that I’m going on a shoot to a particular location, so I’ll write a poem with a shoot in mind, molding it to fit the scene. Or we’ll have a new shooting technique that we want to try, so I’ll write for that. This is something that’s happening right now, actually.

My cinépoem partner, Michelle, and I have been discussing a new method we’d like to try out on a cinépoem. The catch is that it requires a very specific type of poem, a poem that lends itself to multiple interpretations. So far I’ve got the first stanza nailed down. The rest of it is still percolating. Once I get all the words pried out of my brain and onto paper, we can start planning the shoot.

Which leads to the next question: Who directs the cinépoem shoot? How do you know what you’re going to be filming?

Because we use my poetry for the cinépoems, I’m the one who comes up with something that we call the “shoot sheet”. The shoot sheet breaks the poem down into visual bites, the poem on one side of the page, the corresponding scenes we want to shoot on the other.

Sometimes the shoot sheet is simply a guide for general ideas that we want to capture. Other times it is a line by line, shot by shot, very literal script that we follow.

Most cinépoem shoots last only one day, although the prepartion for the shoot may begin months in advance. In fact, the writing, preparation, location scouting, volunteer recruiting, prop scavenging part of the process is more time-consuming than the shoot itself.

Then, once we’ve got the raw footage in the can, we have to begin the other time-consuming process — editing. Michelle and I both have very busy schedules, but we always edit together. So finding time when we both can sit down in front of a deck of computers and start splicing scenes together is always tricky. But we always manage.

We usually lay down the vocal track first, and then the music track, if we have it. Then we pull out the shoot sheet again and begin lining up scenes with sections of poetry. Of course, this is after Michelle has combed through all of the footage and picked the best and brightest takes for our use.

Usually for a 2 to 3 minute cinépoem, we’ll shoot 2 to 4 hours of footage. Multiple takes, multiple angles, B-roll fill-in footage — there’s a lot going on in those cinépoems.

We spend several weeks on the editing process, and then once everything’s finally polished to (near) perfection, we send our new little hatchling out into the world to meet all of you.

Speaking of which, there’s a new cinépoem about halfway through the editing process called Bright Neon Love. That should be online within the next month or so. Then in May we’ll begin shooting scenes for the next cinépoem. It doesn’t have a name yet, but it does have two new cast members: Jimmy and Lindsay. You’ll meet them soon.

So. That’s a bit of a look behind the scenes at our little cinépoem factory. Hope you enjoyed the tour.

-Lo, procrastinating on the percolating.

(P.S. That’s Abattoir on the big screen at last year’s Berkeley Film & Video Fest.)

Applique Something Shiny

Mood: Endless | Drinking: Tea

car_lex

Oh. My. God.

I have been waiting sooooooo long to show you this cinépoem and at (very) long last, it’s finished!

Homeland Security is up on the cinépoems page and also on YouTube.

We shot it in Santa Cruz, CA in August with two gorgeous ladies, Carly & Lex, and a couple of masks. The poem (which is included in The Secrets of Falling) is a very dual-natured sort of beast, as you’ll hear, and so is the cinépoem. Michelle & I are really happy with how it all turned out.

Big ups, too, to our fine composer, Aaron Purvis. He created a delightful soundtrack that fits perfectly with the mood of this little poem, and I can’t thank him enough.

So go. Enjoy our new little story

Lo, with Elmer’s edible paste.

Gooooold!

goldmedal
Mood: Buzzing
Drinking: Tea with melty ice

The Berkeley Film Fest is always a treat. Mel Vapour and crew are always incredibly kind, and this year was no exception.

This year they gave us gold medals. One for me, one for my cinepoetry partner Michelle. That’s my shiny piece on the right.

Award winning is always fun, especially when followed by a giant cheeseburger.

So after collecting our medals and watching the elderly people in the audience freak out a little during the bloody screening of Abattoir (when seen on a huge screen, it does look a bit more violent than it does on a wee web window), Shel and I and a bunch of our pals headed over to Nation’s for some giant burgers and, in some cases, pecan pie.

Nothing like following up a gross-out fest like Abattoir with some red meat.

Anyway, a big fuzzy thanks to all of you who showed up on Friday night for the festivities, and to all of you who couldn’t be there in the flesh, but sent your well-wishes.

And an even bigger thanks to the Berkeley Film Fest folks, my fabulous cinepoetry partner Michelle, and all of you who volunteered to get blood-spattered for free. You know who you are.

-Lo, feelin’ the lurve.

Festivus for the Rest of Us

berkeley08
Mood: Yup
Drinking: Yip

This weekend, the loverly berg of Berkeley plays host to the annual Berkeley Film and Video Festival.

One of our fine cinepoems, Abattoir, has been selected to play on the silver screen this year. It has also, for the 3rd year in a row, earned us a shiny trophy.

And by us, of course, I mean my partner in cinepoetry, Michelle Brown. The pair of us will make the trek across the Bay Bridge this Friday evening to collect our winnings and watch our bloody work freak everyone out, man.

You can come to, oh random blog reader, if you find yourself in or around the Bay Area. The film fest is playing at the Landmark Shattuck Cinema in downtown Berkeley. Tickets are $13. Abattoir shows up on the big screen at 7:55pm on Friday. Get all the details here.

And you can see the Abattoir trailer here. Yes. We have a trailer. Aren’t we snazzy?
Huzzah.

-Lo, who never gets tired of collecting shiny gold prizes.

It Was All Yellow

yella_cows
Mood: Chillaxed
Drinking: Sweet Tea

At long last, a new cinépoem has arrived.

Shot last November in the central valley of California (Pachecho Pass, Gilroy, Dinuba, Reedley, etc.), “Yellow” is a departure from the norm, if there has indeed been any kind of norm with our cinépoems.

It’s a mellow little fellow with more of an outward-facing perspective than most of my work, which tends to be introspective and more emotional.

Michelle and I tried to do something a little different with the visual representation of this poem to match the different tone of voice. We hope you like it.

Go get Yellow
YouTube Yellow

-Lo, who is quite a fan of roadside fruit stands.

Cinco de Mayonnaise

buffysing2
Mood: Revving Up
Drinking: Nada

After 30 days of daily poem posts, I feel all rusty and creaky returning to the status quo of weekly(ish) posts.

But real life cannot sustain daily poems, at least not the kind of life I’m in the habit of living.

It was a brilliant idea, though, wasn’t it? Even though I thought myself insane in the beginning, I found it fairly easy to get into the regular rhythm of writing a poem a day, especially when I gave myself permission to post poems that unapologetically sucked or (this was even harder) poems that had the potential to be so amazing, but needed a few more days or weeks of percolating and editing.

Some of these un-percolated poems (Je t’aime, for instance, which now has a new name) are being re-thought and re-written as I type. Ok, not as I type, but in the general background of the return to real life, they are being revised.

Someday I’ll post them again in their better, shinier, actually finished form.

The best thing about all of this was that I wrote so many things that never would have been explored had I not given myself the daily deadline. Honey, for example, was an amazing accident, and I don’t think I would have thought to explore my personal history with bee stings had I not been wracking my brain for any scrap of story that could be whipped up into a poem.

The second best thing that happened was that I started tearing through several of the poetry collections I purchased back in January at the Associated Writing Programs conference in New York. I don’t make it a regular habit to read lots of poetry books, and it’s completely my loss. I found so much inspiration in the words of other poets, and I’m now simultaneously reading the work of Galway Kinnell, Laure-Anne Bosselaar, and Elizabeth Bradfield. What a feast!

So farewell, National Poetry Month celebration. Perhaps we’ll meet again next year.

A few bits of newsy things:
1. Michelle and I are editing a new cinepoem called “Yellow”
2. There is a ladonnawitmerdotcom refresh in the works that will include a real RSS blog feed (yay)
3. The Secrets of Falling is reviewed in the May issue of The Other Herald

All good things, all keeping me busy, busy, busy. Seems to be the way I like it… and off I go.

-Lo, with a “Grrrr” and an “Arrrgh”.

Earthquake Weather

flameon
Mood: Funky
Drinking: Water

Earthquake Weather

And in that moment I knew
what my choice would be.
What, indeed, it already was,
as if all my life I had been
waiting for someone
just to ask the right question.

A question of love, yes,
and a question of lust, too,
but when you lay back
the skin of the thing
and find fire pulsing
in its core, then
you need only review
the essence of flame
to reach your answer.

If you want to burn
without getting burned
you must either
carry ice in your veins
or flame out before morning.

I have always been afraid of fire.
When playing with matches,
I am careful to singe only
fingertips.
Caution serves one well
in earthquake weather.

Now I can’t sleep
until you come home.
Last night I lay in bed
and wished the neighbor
would turn out his light.
And in that moment I knew
what my choice would be.

Without you here to cool me
I begin a slow burn.
When morning comes,
you will find only ashes
between the sheets.

There is no such thing
as one true love
so pick your number
wisely.

I know you’ll be awhile figuring that one out. I’m still working on it, myself. So here’s some fun new things to distract you.

My favorite Wicker Kid has been writing again. I highly suggest you read his new posts over at The Wicker Chronicles.

A lovely lady from the UK named Melissa contacted me over the weekend to ask if she could add some cinepoetry to her website. And that’s how Bored Now and Slow Roast came to be a part of Beat the Dust TV. Check it out.

-Lo, who thinks the last stanza, though possibly misplaced, is the key.

Breaking News

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Mood: Barefoot
Drinking: Tea

In a break from our regularly-scheduled poem-a-day programming for this fine month of April, I’d like to bring you some hot-off-the press news:
A new cinépoem has been released into the wild.

Yes, I know you thought I’d forgotten all about those cinépoems, but they’re still cooking.

This one, “Strange”, was shot in the Superstition Wilderness in Arizona on January 15, just two days after my half-marathon. So if I look a bit sore, I was.

Something very special to note about this cinépoem, besides the amazing scenery, is that for the first time ever, we have an original score! Thanks to the fine talents of our new friend Aaron M. M. Purvis, who composed and performed this fine piece of music that fits so perfectly with our strange little video.

As always, you can find the newest cinépoem on the Cinépoems page. You can also trot over to YouTube and see it there.

And stay tuned for poetry month poem #13, coming later today…

-Lo, who wants to be lazier.