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We've been discussing for a while the importance of form in class and how it relates to our perception of a given work. I've needed to consider form a lot as a creative writing major, and I realized today that a really good way to examine form's importance is by looking at kinetic typography. I've embedded a video of a spoken-word poetry performance turned into a kinetic typography video as an example.

Spoken word poetry by itself is an interesting form of literature. The form of a spoken-word poem exists only in the way we hear it, unless the poet keeps a written copy somewhere. We need to listen instead of read. However, in this video, the creator mixed a spoken-word poem with kinetic typography, giving the listener something to view as well. And rather than simply putting the words of the poem in the video, the creator animates them, adding a whole new element to the experience of this poem.

I thought it might be interesting to discuss how this changes our perception of the poem – any thoughts?


  1. Unknown User (ggs1)

    I like this.  I find that spoken word poetry is very much about what the person is saying, but to see it transcribed in a kinetic typography was a different way of understanding it.  I think it added to the meaning of it because it expressed what the poet was saying by making the words move with the speaker.  When he spoke faster or in a different tone, the video reflected it.  While spoken word has a lot to do with the gestures and the intensity of the speaker in person, this still gave off a lot of the effect that you would get from gestures through the words.  I think this is relatable to the class too because it shows how as students of the english language we have to expose ourselves to different mediums of literature and this is a mixture of poetry and speech.

  2. Unknown User (co9)

    As an avid fan of typography (especially of the kinetic variety), I was pretty gleeful to see this pop up on the blog.  For me, the connection between typography and words/literature has always been interpretation.  To expand, the way (or form) which the typographer chooses to present the words of whatever it is that they're rendering reflects how they interpret the work.  If the typographer interprets a certain word as important, that word may be presented as larger than others, and if a certain word or phrase exudes a certain tone, the typographer may take that and interpret it by using a specific font–for instance, if a phrase is somber or businesslike, the typographer might use a Times font, but if something is enthusiastic or cheerful, the typographer could interpret and reflect that with a (tastefully selected) sans-serif, perky sort of font.  The addition of audio to the typographical mix adds another element, though.  Unless the typographer and the person reading the poem are one and the same, the typography is then influenced not only by the typographer's interpretation of the text, but also the speaker's.  If a speaker emphasizes a certain word or speaks a certain phrase quickly, then the typographer's interpretation of the piece will be shaped by the speaker's interpretation, and thus that certain word might be presented in a large font, while that certain phrase would scroll across the screen faster than others. 

    What I think this all boils down to in terms of form versus meaning is that, one, form derives from meaning when based upon interpretation, and two, the form of our interpretation is in turn also influenced by the interpretations of others who came before us.  Of course, this only applies to form and meaning as the reader sees them–the perspective is entirely different when one is the author of a work–but the practice of typography is an excellent visual guide (form) to illustrate this form/meaning duality (meaning) we've been discussing and pondering over in class.

  3. Unknown User (lmg19)

    This is so cool! I watched the video while studying with a group of friends. They listened in the background and thought it was really interesting, too (they're biology majors by the way). I believe the voice is the most powerful tool for a writer, especially when the audience does not have access to the written piece. It forces the audience to literally lean in and pay more attention to the words because they know if they miss a line then they will not be able to find it again. It also creates more of a physical connection between the writer/speaker and the audience. The author can place more emphasis on the parts s/he feels are the most important, and their natural voice makes it a more personal and familiar experience, and you can get a sense of their personality. I could tell the author was humorous and a bit of a character as he read his poem and it made the poem more upbeat. He was very casual, as well, which made me very comfortable. The author also sped up his speech ad if he was escalating to a climax, and he was getting us as listeners excited too. His frantic speech may not have been detected if we read it in front of us.