Local teacher's videopoem draws international attention

A local author’s videopoem has been accepted into two international festivals.

Al Rempel is a high-school physics teacher whose artistic side is explored through the written word. He collaborated with other artists to create a multimedia project.

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I've In the Rain is Rempel's poem that he's decided to expand. He reached out to an artistic Italian friend, Sando Pecchiari, to translate and recite the poem while American Erica Goss set the music and images into the video format.

The videopoem will be showcased at the ZEBRA poetry film festival in Berlin, the oldest and largest festivals of its kind and the Ó Bhéal International Poetry-Film Competition in Cork, Ireland. Videopoems are a fairly new art form and the ZEBRA is the first festival to celebrate the format. It started in 2002 and is considered the most prestigious festival.

Years ago, Rempel stumbled on a videopoem on Facebook and knew it would be something he'd like to explore.

He started with a poem he wrote about his daughter's first year of life called Eloise.

"That's when I really started getting interested in it but I didn't have the ability to do the tech side," Rempel said. "I liked taking pictures growing up and I was an amateur photographer but I didn't have the proper technology to do videos or to put it together."

He soon partnered up with Steph St. Laurent, a local filmmaker.

"I would supply the poem and sometimes the idea and he would supply the imagery and put it all together and other local artists like Jeremy Stewart would compose some original music that would be put to the video," Rempel said. "So we've done collaborations like that."

I've In the Rain is an international collaboration. 

"My poet friend in Italy had translated the poem and sent it to me reading it," Rempel said. "And I thought ‘wow this is so beautiful.’ I mean everything sounds great in Italian, of course, but this just sounded so fantastic I thought I can't just let this be a sound file that I share with a few friends."

He reached out to Erica Goss in Oregon, who creates videopoems and had reviewed one of Rempel's earlier videopoems.

Goss put it all together and then sent it back to Rempel.

"And it was fantastic," he said.

He was inspired to send it out for submission into videopoem film festivals.

Rempel already has three books of poetry and a handful of chapbooks to go with his growing inventory of videopoems.

His inspiration for I've In the Rain was a variety of images colliding in his mind's eye from different times and places.

"It's like a painter mixing paint," Rempel. "One blends into another. I remember one was when I was sitting in a car in the parking lot at Parkwood Mall and the rain was coming down."

A couple arguing outside their car came to mind.

"And so I was thinking about relationships negotiated in the rain and then some of the sound imagery - the ping and the pang - was from one of our older houses that had a down spout that would make these really odds sounds when it rained - so that was another image that came from another place and time."

Rempel hopes everyone will enjoy the poem, he said.

"What's fascinating to me is that when a poem becomes a videopoem it becomes something different from the original poem," Rempel said. "The interpretation changes and that's fine for me. It kind of finds its own legs."

Here is the link to I've In the Rain.

For more information and works by Rempel, visit www.alrempel.com.

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