Selected! International Migration & Environmental Film Festival 


Humbled and pleased to announce that three of my cinepoems have been selected to be screened at the International Migration & Environmental Film Festival (Winnipeg, Canada).

The International Migration and Environmental Film Festival is a non-profit cultural organization that raises awareness about migration and environmental issues through the medium of film.

The event will take place virtually October 9-16 via xerb.tv (streaming).

Good blurbs

Fluid art technique. High resolution files suitable for small printable products as well as for large size projects.

“The poetic worlds Vitkauskas creates are like reverse matrioszka, nesting dolls that only expand rather than recede.” 

—Mark Tardi, The Circus of Trust (Dalkey Archive Press, 2017)

Keeping Up With The Huidobros • (New Cinepoem, 2021)

It began with Chilean poet, Vincente Huidobro. The opening / preface of his poetic masterpiece, Altazor, launches into a metaphysical cascade of imagery. This was exciting to a young poet like me—at age 29 with some Spanish knowledge and seeking a manifesto to climb (the name “altazor” is a combination of the noun “altura” / “altitude” and the adjective “azorado” / “bewildered” or “taken aback”). 

I’d been experimenting with layered or looking-glass ekphrasis (a term that I’ve coined for this process). As I create cinepoems, a visual language in of itself, I found this poem in particular to be different: it was fueled by a homophonic translation (three languages fused: English, Spanish, and the visual). From this, a separate Lithuanian poem sprung, inspired by the overlapped sounds of street noise, a looped harpsichord, and selected juxtapositions of the poet’s translated phrases and/or words. Now four languages.

Note: It was also a synchronous discovery to find that the first issue of Huidobro’s international art magazine, Creación, featured Lithuanian-born, Cubist sculptor, Jacques Lipchitz.

(From the Lithuanian, roughly translated):

Ink of dawn
Scales & shells
My life
A falling acrobat
A forgotten ship
Don’t know the birds
Don’t know the river
I was born from the rain
Hungry
Untied
Without a name
Without a nation
Not giving up
I gave everything

Full text of homophonic translation:

KEEPING UP WITH THE HUIDOBROS

I was born at the age of eight on the cut 
of no Christ; gin and tonic was the equator of my 
hairless pain under the geraniums of the German 
piano, a cuddy beneath bergs. I had the blank 
stare of a victim, a relentless bicycle. I breathed 
in the next blind father upon a trapeze bar, I loved 
the daylight, the curtain of every hat. My mother spoke 
with larks coming from her mouth, she embroidered 
buttons to my breast. On the first day, 
I asked the larks to un-beak these buttons, 
to look upon the nudes of the gallery, 
to collect the broken shells of rational hearts. 
Then I created my tongue and braided my grave. 
I constructed my development from my grandmother’s 
slips and Russian soap stars upon the tombs of sublime 
retinal failure. Speeding gold chessboards of sight, 
perhaps they preferred disconnection so as not to see 
the disconnected language sculpted from this life; 
perhaps when disengaged, the last sigh of vision 
delivered untangled tropes. I looked at my fists,
angled as accordions, a horse upon each virgin 
extracted for the stain of sleep, the illusion of hair.
Where the blood of my vain tongue slipped into my 
father’s glass and burned my skin an effigy; of phone 
cords and exoplanets of bound light; each season a blister
of stone; I, a little soldier who fights. All of my
throats the planets, money wired to each wintry
renewal of skin, more skin, all the skin I could
grow. I drank the hunters, the cascades of bile,
each hammer of my selves a bitter astronomy. There
is a secret to my vertigo, it’s my gills
in a sea of handkerchiefs.

“…like a contemporary Tsvetaeva through a landscape of the uncertain and surreal…”

“Splendid, grotesque, violent, but always loving, Lina ramona writes like a contemporary Marina Tsvetaeva through a landscape of the uncertain and surreal; the language is made from the nervousness and energy of every bee in the hive. Part ‘rotten aorta’ and part ‘snapdragon wine’, the poems in HONEY IS A SHE form a buzzing network of inventive beauty.”

—Sandra Simonds, 2015 Akron Poetry Prize Winner

SELECTED! 9th International Video Poetry Festival • Athens, Greece (2021)

I AM THRILLED to have 5 of my short-short cinepoems selected for the 9th International Video Poetry Festival in Athens, Greece in March 2021

The International Video Poetry Festival is organized and promoted by the Institute for Experimental Arts in cooperation with Void Network.

Every year, the committee of the Institute for Experimental Arts selects the 10 most outstanding video poems of the annual festival. Τhe committee is composed of official members of the nonprofit cultural society, the Institute for Experimental Arts.

“…she combines Handmaid’s Tale & mad science with the meaningful meaningless dialogue of politics & propaganda…”

Daniel Borzutzky, 2016 National Book Award Winner (Poetry):

“It is strange to occupy the world of Lina ramona Vitkauskas’ poems, a world where beef takes nebulous forms, Jacques Derrida and Batman speculatively coincide, where cumin forms into fists, where W.H. Auden sets things on fire, while Sartre cowboys ride into a present tense that combines the Handmaid’s Tale with mad science with the meaningful meaningless dialogue of politics and propaganda. But while these poems are filled with wild images, they are also subtle in their devious shifts and proclamations. The dream capsules of amazing nothings of this book are, to paraphrase Wallace Stevens, both there and not there. These poems are fun, soothingly frantic, and optimistically generous.”

More notable quotes…

Sandra Simonds, Winner, Akron Poetry Prize (2015):

“Splendid, grotesque, violent, but always loving, Lina ramona writes like a contemporary Marina Tsvetaeva through a landscape of the uncertain and surreal; the language is made from the nervousness and energy of every bee in the hive. Part ‘rotten aorta’ and part ‘snapdragon wine’, the poems in HONEY IS A SHE form a buzzing network of inventive beauty.”

Bill Knott:

“You’ve discovered/invented a unique new kind of mode in the cinepoem genre — bravo…your method in writing the ‘film ekphrastics’ is unique, innovative, and I’ve never read of anyone else doing it before you…” 

Jill Magi, author of LABOR (Nightboat Books):

“If film is linear, the ultimate time-based medium, during which we are supposed to listen and watch attentively, passively, Lina’s poems in A Neon Tryst talk back. These poems create simultaneity, layers, and distillations toward new narrative logics like ‘Let’s laugh until panties.’ Vitkauskas is watching for the poem in the film, writing her own subtitles (deliciously peculiar subtitles) and in their irreverence they are expansive, wise, and sometimes very funny. Her playful gestures in the face of the tightly choreographed imprint of film create incidental and embodied new texts, and this may very well be a feminist enterprise in its daring, toppling film’s male gaze with ‘I have to half you.’ “

Chuck Stebelton, Winner, Tougher Disguises Jack Spicer Award (2005):

Shooting Dead Films with Poets is an improbable treasure. These fourteen poems call out to Cocteau and draw from the gamut spanning Georgic bees and a Chicago found to be antipodal to the Volga. Subtitles twine immaculately. They invoke a Cyrillic voyeur penning captions for a movie that knows its own Democracy. This is a run of great poems made by great lines, a sequence of gracious acts in which Vitkauskas drops names like Galileo dropped the orange.”

Denise Duhamel, Guest Editor, Best American Poetry (2013):

“Lina ramona Vitkauskas’ poetry is richly textured and layered, a palimpsest pleasure. In THE RANGE OF YOUR AMAZING NOTHING, Ashbery and Superman, Lorca and Jacqueline Bisset, Nancy (the comic strip character) and Forrest Gander all coexist and inform her most amazing verse. While the bright surface of her poetry employs humor and kitsch, the dazzling underside confronts of intolerance and terrorism with a wise brilliance.”

Simone Muench, Suture (Black Lawrence Press, 2017) + 2019 Illinois Arts Council Finalist):

“Vitkauskas’ poems possess the intricate peculiarity of honeycombs and Schiaparelli dresses, as she exquisitely fashions poems out of scientific particulars, cinematic references (‘they place the horse head in the bed’), and metaphors’ associative logic. ‘These girls are brave tailors in the blur of impossible femme,’ and like her own subject, Vitkauskas is fearless as she navigates, interrogates, and ultimately, dislocates conventional gender dynamics: ‘I rip the itch from gender.’ The dynamism, humor, and marvel of her poems recall the surrealist Joyce Mansour, conveying a similar tenor as they negotiate desire and disease, ardor and animosity, with beehive fervor. Be stung and sung in the ‘golden / drip science’ of her resplendent poems.”

Rachael Levitsky, founder and co-director of Belladonna:

“Lina ramona Vitkauskas writes a class of ‘found’ poetry that I will dub ‘found memory’ as she culls the rooms of the poems of the poets to whom she dedicates and finds word objects that make matter (see “Einstein’s Shoes”!) out of historical and spatial distance. Tender, defiant and fun, these poems are making it new.”

Johannes Göransson, The Sugar Book (Tarpaulin Sky, 2015) + co-editor, Action Books & Action, Yes: 

“The ‘trysts’ of Lina Vitkauskas’ book are shot through with ‘neon’—that is, they are saturated with chemicals, textures, atmosphere, and media. According to this synthetic cosmology, ‘In an affair/arms laugh,/they become sheer.’ That is to say, they—arms, bodies, weapons, trysts—become both medium and adjective, both see-through and material. As in Antonioni’s great films, the body is clothes and the clothes are part of the visual atmosphere. A dress moves through a toxic landscape, or a ‘toxic love.’ The ‘trysts’ are movies, fantasies, art. Vitkauskas is ‘surreal, primitive, impressionist, whatever.’ ”

FINALIST! Midwest Video Poetry Fest

I’m thrilled to announce that my cinepoem, I AM NOT YOU ARE, has been selected as a finalist for the inaugural Midwest Video Poetry Fest (2020). The details:

“We received over 1600 submissions and chose just 36 films to include in our two-day festival, which will take place on November 19 and 20, 2020.

At the time of our call for submissions, we planned on holding screenings at Arts + Literature Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin. Due to COVID-19 related local restrictions, we will now stream the programs live on our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/ArtLitLab. “

Poets • (New Cinepoem, 2020) – Featured on Moving Poems.com

In 2013, I set out to write a poetry book that raged against the poetry MFA machine within the corporate-modeled university system. At that time, it was clear that, over the decade previous, universities, which employed most of the poets and writers whom I knew, were looking to level any sense of artistic freedom and turn colleges—places of education—into lucrative assembly lines—created to “churn out” ready-made writer-bots modeled after their “mentors”—and most importantly, to rob them of a fair living wage and and benefits.

I created a series of poems that were each dedicated to a profession—from working class to white collar jobs. The poems were also for those whom I knew at the time who were struggling to balance work “by day” and write/create art “by night”. At the time, I worked as a writer and editor for a major university in their advancement division, so I saw first-hand the emphasis the school placed upon making millions of dollars from donors to puff endowments and funnel $ to high-ranking administrators’ salaries—versus ensuring that part-time and adjunct faculty received fair, living wages and health benefits.

The entire collection, called “Professional Poetry” was meant to pay homage to a wide variety of different professions and/also to mock the commodification/capitalist push within arts organizations and universities to homogenize poetry and relegate anything “experimental” or “controversial” to unseen corners. The flattening of creativity—dictated by rich, white, old men, specifically bankers and/or “executives” who were beholden to pharma mega-corporations—forcefully swept into funding decisions for the arts. If a poet didn’t fit their dictated/defined “category”, or if a poet didn’t subserviently oblige and change their work to suit their framework, then it was deemed unclassifiable and therefore “not fundable”, “not publishable” or “un-useful” to the professional world of poetry that they dominated.

Original poem published here. On Moving Poems here.

“…a Cyrillic voyeur penning captions for a movie that knows its own democracy…”

“Lina ramona’s chapbook, Shooting Dead Films with Poets, is an improbable treasure. These fourteen poems call out to Cocteau and draw from the gamut spanning Georgic bees and a Chicago found to be antipodal to the Volga. Subtitles twine immaculately. They invoke a Cyrillic voyeur penning captions for a movie that knows its own democracy. This is a run of great poems made by great lines, a sequence of gracious acts in which Vitkauskas drops names like Galileo dropped the orange.”
—Chuck Stebelton, Winner of the Tougher Disguises – Jack Spicer Award (2005)

PEN America COVID-19 Relief Grant

I want to extend my sincerest thanks to PEN America for offering me a poet’s COVID-19 relief grant.

In late March, I found out that the 6-month contract job I had lined up for the rest of the year (May-Dec) was no more due to COVID. PEN helped immediately with relief, and offered a poet a chance to weigh in on the current crisis by creating art. I’m seeking publishers for my new collection, Between Plague & Kleptocracy: Invented Poetic Creations & Conversations of Seva & Bill.

Scarcely Gilded • (New Cinepoem, 2020)

From a new poetry collection, “Between Plague & Kleptocracy: Invented Poetic Creations & Conversations of Seva & Bill”, in which I cross-reference poems between Vsevolod Nekrasov & Bill Knott to serve as medium and “translator” of their posthumous conversations / invented collaborations. The poems are written in the voice / tone / style of both Nekrasov & Knott, featuring borrowed lines and found poems within those lines. The poems are the transcripts of their thoughts across astral planes: what they would perhaps discuss in this perilous time in history: of pandemic, of widespread injustice, forced isolation, and of finding ourselves with a traitorous snake oil salesman / neo-Soviet puppet in the WH.

Push <> Pull • New Cinepoem (2020)

After Jeffrey Gibson’s exhibition “Like a Hammer” at Seattle Art Museum (2019), I was inspired to continue exploring more deeply the pagan aspects of my Baltic culture. Gibson explores his own Native American heritage: his works include large and mid-sized figurative objects, text-based wall hangings, a selection of illustrious Everlast beaded punching bags, painted works on rawhide and canvas, as well as videos. He remixes his work to “reveal a distinct visual vocabulary that comes up in his multi-faceted identity”. This really spoke to me, as I continue to identify what it means to be both deeply rooted in pagan themes (nature) while dabbling in the inevitable spaces of fundamental biology (science, medicine): what can be perhaps perceived as the old world and the new colliding. Codes exist in natural places—in cellular (genetic) structures and realms. I wanted to experiment with this in my work. #isolation #nature #biology #virus #crowns #hertitage #Baltic #pagan #Lithuanian

I Am Not You Are • New Cinepoem (2020)

When I wrote my 2013 collection, Professional Poetry, the poems were intended to speak to the value of the working person / poet through the lens of her/his/their “day” jobs and the artist localizing her place in this structure. I examined the commodification of poetry and the absurdity of “mktg” in this space. “I Am Not You Are” was originally not supposed to be included in the collection, but it seemed a fitting end to illustrate the metaphorical tug between “contributing” (economic) member of society (consumer) and a waning citizen (unidentifiable in a petri of metrics and forced identity).

Watch here: https://vimeo.com/395610373

“…a Pynchon-esque bend…images of films translated into other tongues…languages we don’t speak or might not exist….”

“It’s a book of codes and lost histories, grainy film stock and the harder-to-catch frequencies, and there’s a Pynchon-esque bend to the work overall, a sense that the images of these films are being translated into other tongues, maybe even languages we don’t speak ourselves, languages that might not exist. There’s a gap between the hour and the meaning. These poems are like flashing, oblique messages from a dead or yet-to-be country. ” —James Pate, The Fassbinder Diaries (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2013)