This weekend, the TED-Ed channel on YouTube launched their new series ‘There’s A Poem For That‘ which, according to them, “features animated interpretations of poems both old and new that give language to some of life’s biggest feelings”. Poetry nerd as I am, I, of course, got very excited and had to check it out immediately. Here are some of my thoughts:
I really like that the series includes both well known poems by the ‘classic’ poets as well as newer poems by poets I haven’t heard of before. From what I can see at this point, all new poems are read by the authors themselves, which I believe gives them an extra dimension. In this way, the poet isn’t limited to sending their message through the text alone, but they can also enhance or contradict it with their tone of voice. All poems are read in an animated, passionate voice that reminds of slam poetry and gives them (especially the older poems) an extra breath of life.
I believe that the animations are done by different artist, but I’m unsure because the video description only names the author of the poem and the director of the video (a shame, really). They vary in style, colourfulness and degree of abstraction, and seem to cater to a range of different tastes. Not all of them appeal to me personally.
Most animations seem to capture the poem’s spirit rather than the exact words, and offer the artist’s own interpretation to the text. In this way, they aren’t just pretty pictures to entertain us while we listen, but really add another layer to the experience. For example, in the video for The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost the two paths do not both lead through the woods, but one leads back into the house, adding the layer of ‘the safety of familiarity’ to the road more travelled by.
I would have liked it if the text of the poem was integrated in the video or even given in the description. In some of the videos the speech is quite fast, and some of the poems use creative, complicated sentence structures that may be easier to follow when reading along. I also find the balance between the spoken text and the music a bit off sometimes.
I’m not as much of a fan of the series as I thought I would be, but I am very curious to see what the rest of the videos are like. If you’ve seen any of the videos, please let me know what you think! Which is your favourite?