Featured Writer: David Fraser

GV6 THE ODYSSEY- Poets, Passion and Poetry

The Odyssey Cover

A Bob Bryan Film
Bryan World Productions, LLC
P.O. Box 74033, Los Angles, CA 90004
Ascent Aspirations Magazine
A Review by David Fraser
Bob Bryan’s documentary film, GV6 THE ODYSSEY – Poets, Passion and Poetry is a monumental achievement. Thirty-one contemporary American poets candidly open their souls with their comments and the sharing of their work. Bob Bryan takes the material filmed with each poet and creatively edits the footage into a cohesive presentation interspersed with text, graphics and visual images to produce a stunning film depicting the universality of poetry, full of messages that can be applied to any form of creative endeavor.
Poets such as Wanda Coleman, Kamau Daaood, Brendan Constantine, Victoria Chang, Steve Goldman, Chungmi Kim, FrancEye, Lynne Thompson and all the rest explore what poetry is about, the relationship between the writer and the reader/listener, taboos and fears, the power of poetry, and the relationship with truth and self-discovery. In the process they reveal their personalities, expose their struggles, give us their poetic voice and show us how their ideas evolve and how others can learn to write poetry. There is an openness that is full of eclectic ideas that never even closely approaches the pedantic. Bob Bryan clearly manipulates the infrastructure in his editing process but this does not detract from the cohesive messages that are both bombarding and calming. Opposite feelings and ideas are expressed by the various poets and these ideas are often juxtaposed to produce an enlightening, revealing sense of what poetry is, what passions are involved and how poetry is created. The messages are so real and down to earth that they appeal to everyone; established, emerging, or beginning poets and to students who are still hesitant to wade into the language.
The poets in various comments and readings show what poetry is about and their passion for the spoken word and in the process, they expose their raw feelings. Some talk of the searching for self, of being honest, of writing as a form of therapy. One poet (Wanda Coleman) says “I am in constant dialogue with myself” and explains how poems emerge. Jennifer Tseng speaks about getting creations out of herself as if she is getting rid of toxins. When asked about taboos many felt that the writer is obligated to write about them (Shahe Mankerian). Others talked about suffering and traumas, and phantoms (Chungmi Kim), while others spoke of being sometimes too afraid of making wrong moves even though they know it is important to let go and be more fearless (Victoria Chang).
In the process of the film the audience is brought toward an understanding of the process as each poet opens up bits of him or herself in genuine and truthful ways. We get ideas about what poetry is – “poetry is a second use of language”, “it translates the velocity of expression to the stillness of art” (Brendan Constantine), “poetry is hell, a kick in the gut, an emotional reaction” (Dr. Thea Iberall) , “interaction, dance, song, meaning and sound and sometimes a tightened ball of reality" (Marcielle Brandler), and  “a process of reshaping a feeling’.
Through each poet’s passion we see the power of poetry to “lift the spirit, address the agonies of life, and to bring us together to make sense of this life” (Rod Bradley) . The writers reminisce about their youth and how they came to poetry. Parts of the film focus on bringing poetry into the classroom and how students need to write about things for which they have passion (Johnny Masuda). There is a sense of the sacred here where the students are not taught poetry but are a part of a genuine process that evokes poetry and helps them to hear language, and see images and emotions as raw material for making poetry. The poets speak of helping themselves and others to look inward and outward and to try to see how these two connect (Kamau Daaood). Advice is given to find your voice, to write and write until you find your voice, in the process of reviewing everyday life and getting it all out (Johnny Masuda)!  We are reminded to be courageous when we write even though the open truthfulness involves some fear and discomfort.
The ideas are a buffet from which we can all feast. Some feel poetry is born within them; others feel we can all learn to write poetry; most however see the teaching of poetry more as a process of guiding, of standing at the crossroads and pointing the way (Nika Hoffman). In terms of where ideas come from, some allude to the imagery of dreams (Harryette Mullen), others prefer the muses and acknowledge the need to stay in touch and not neglect them, one poet (Catherine Daly) doesn’t believe in gods or muses and knows the treads come from within, another feels a big silence that comes from different places, places of joy and places of turmoil. Kamau Daaood in his deep baritone saxophone voice says, “it comes like water; it just flows as if you are channeling the stuff”.
The film is a great accomplishment that is deeply, insightful, entertaining and functionally practical for anyone interested in any creative art form, and especially poetry. Doors are opened through the raw honesty of the responses. Veils of mystery are peeled way exposing the human condition and the efforts and struggles to make sense of the life around us. Poets, writers, artists, teachers, and students will find this film a must-see experience. You will return to it time and again for inspiration, motivation and entertainment.

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