Creative writing, poetry, visual poetry, screenwriting, journalism, video production
Born in Budapest, based in Montreal until 1983, Tom Konyves is one of the original seven poets dubbed The Vehicule Poets; his work is distinguished by Dadaist/Surrealist/experimental writings, performance works and videopoems.
He has published 6 books of poetry, most recently "Perfect Answers to Silent Questions", by Ekstasis Editions, Victoria, BC. In 2007, he published a novella, OOSOOM (Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind) with BookThug, Toronto.
In 1978, he coined the term 'videopoetry' to describe his multimedia work, and is considered to be one of the original pioneers of the form. He is the author of "Videopoetry: A Manifesto", published on Sept. 6, 2011.
As one of the leading theorists of the genre of videopoetry - his Manifesto was reposted on numerous blogs, including W.J.T. Mitchell's Critical Inquiry, and to date has been accessed on issuu.com by more than 12,000 readers in 62 countries - he has been invited to address festivals, conferences and symposia in Buenos Aires, Berlin, New York, London, Amsterdam, Montpellier, among others.
Between 1983-2006, he was Executive Producer of AM Productions, producing numerous documentaries, music videos, as well as other corporate, educational and government multimedia productions.
Konyves has initiated many public poetry projects, including Poesie En Mouvement/Poetry On The Buses (Montreal, 1979), Performance Art in Quebec, a six-hour TV series (Cable TV, 1980), Montreal’s first Concrete Poetry Exhibition (Vehicule Art, 1980), The Great Canadian Poetry Machine (Vancouver, Expo 86). He curated the screenings of videopoems at The Text Festival (Bury, England, 2010) and at the Montpellier Poetry/Translation/Film Conference (2015) and has given numerous poetry performances.
Since 2006, he has developed and taught courses in screenwriting, video production, creative visual writing and journalism at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, British Columbia.
To inspire. To be inspired.
I wonder if I could ever have inspired a student to appreciate any work without being inspired by it myself. A more intriguing question could be, “Inspire, yes, but to what end?”
As a rule, I believe the goals of teaching are to provide students with the skills to understand fundamental concepts, encourage critical thinking, develop problem-solving strategies for short and long-term projects, and foster a genuine interest for life-long learning. These objectives can be met when we feel “inspired” or passionate about a topic and equally passionate about communicating that topic to others. On the other hand, if the goal is to teach the skills to create or produce an “original” work, then another source of inspiration is required: namely, communicating the personal experience or “atmosphere” of the creative process. Abstract principles have a way of becoming more real by recounting these pertinent personal experiences.
I like to think of the creative process as essential in the daily life of an artist’s journey. As a teacher, I become the spiritual guide on this journey - as well as the knowledgeable scout - pointing out the obstacles as well as the hidden treasure. I want them to feel safe on this journey - an environment so safe that they become willing to risk embarrassment for the potential rewards of pushing their own intellectual limits.
“Something’s got to be said for the other side.”
I wrote this line many years ago; it was one of ninety-nine odd, surreal “one-liners” published (in collaboration with fellow Vehicule poet Ken Norris) in a collection called Proverbsi (Asylum Publishing, 1978). As the encapsulation of my interpretation of the Dadaist (and Blakean) principle of the union of opposites, my concern with perception and perspectives, it represents the notion that there is always another way of looking at things. Pedagogically, I use it here to express a goal of learning: the necessity of questioning, not to shy away from advancing positions on controversial issues that may go against the grain of conventional wisdom. In challenging conventional wisdom, one has to be passionate about ideas or politics, and to be passionate is one of the sign-posts on my students’ journey.
Teaching literature and composition.
Helping students develop a sense of context is essential to the appreciation of good writing. I see my role as their connection with the real world, past and present, helping them become aware and apply the relevance of fiction to their own experiences.
To improve the technical and stylistic proficiency of their own writing, students must be provided not only with a range of writing assignments, but a “steady diet” of opportunities to reveal the inner workings of their technique.
For creative writing, the key is to develop a personal voice, a unique voice. My own experience tells me what a long difficult process this could be. Years and layers of preconceptions, influences, and others’ opinions could easily bury the singular voice. Through personal interaction,I learn that every student has a story. By discovering these “stories”, I discover something about who they are, which enables me to identify with them and design a learning module which “speaks” to them.
Teaching integrated media.
As a multimedia artist whose expertise is based on language (poetry) expressed in visual terms, I spent a good part of my ‘formative’ years justifying the use of poetry in visual works, first to myself, then to others. By visual works, I meant “videopoetry” as well as “concrete” or “found” poetry. Fortunately, the dilemma was limited to the literary milieu; visual artists had accepted poetry – well, at least the use of text – as a matter of course. Eventually, I found a satisfactory solution to the dilemma: I focused on producing works which then became prototypes of the new medium. Today, I can see the usefulness of justifying works in a classroom: the ongoing discussion of aesthetic principles is vital to the development of critical thinking.
I also consider the use of text in performance as a visual work. Much of what passes for “performance poetry” today is memorized dramatic presentation; there is no substitute for the “poetic experience” in a performance which, by my definition, is a visual expression.
Collaborations and collaborative learning.
My involvement with the practice of creating collaborative works has always been rewarding; working with artists from other disciplines I found that the give-and-take of improvisation invariably generates a new source of poetic inspiration.
In video, collaboration creates the seamless unfolding of the production process. Teaching video at The New Media Institute, I learned more about the students in two days of on-location shooting than weeks in a lecture room; the “group dynamics” revealed tendencies we would discuss later in the classroom. Some students assumed their roles effortlessly. Others couldn’t wait to inter themselves in the edit suite where they could be left alone hours on end, meticulously working on mere seconds of a scene.
Witnessing the gradual fusion of these arbitrarily assigned individuals into a cohesive team is one of the many satisfactions of working with groups; so is the advantage to create opportunities for students to define, if not who they are, who they can become.
I want my students to realize the extent to which text and image are a part of our lives. I want them to feel my enthusiasm and my commitment and to carry that forward in their own work
INVITED LECTURER, PRESENTER, FESTIVALS/CONFERENCES
Mount Allison University Fredericton
Artist in Residence (Video Poetry)
John Abbott CEGEP Montreal
Lecturer (Poetry and Video)
League of Canadian Poets Edmonton
Panelist (The Poem Made Visible)
International Spoken Word Festival Calgary
Circus ofWords Festival Montreal
Videobardo Festival Buenos Aires
Presenter (Videopoetry and The Road to the Barraca Vorticista)
Creative Writing Programs Calgary
Artist Talk (Videopoetry)
School of Visual Arts New York
Panelist (Writing and The Visual Arts)
National Poetry Foundation Orono, MA
Panelist (The 80s in Film and Video)
University of Bath Bath, UK
Keynote Address (Poetry and Film: State of the Union)
Zebra International Poetry Film Berlin
Panelist (What is a Poetry Film)
Memphis College of Art Memphis, TN
Lecture (Love, Poetry &Videopoetry)
E-Poetry Festival 2013London, UK
Presenter (Videopoetry and The Avant Garde)
(Re)Versed Poetry Film Festival Amsterdam
Presenter (Introduction to Videopoetry)
University of Montpellier Montpellier, FR
Keynote Address –The Transformation of Poetry in the Age of the Image
CYCLOP Video Festival Kyiv, Ukraine
Voicing the City In/Verse Symposium
Surrey, BC Presenter
Love Poems Asylum Press, 1974
Proverbsi (with Ken Norris) Asylum Press, 1978
No Parking Vehicule Press, 1978
Poetry in Performance The Muses’ Company, 1982
Ex Perimeter Caitlin Press, 1988
Sleepwalking among the Camels: New and Selected Poems The Muses’ Company, 1995
O.O.S.O.O.M. (Out of Sight, Out of Mind) BookThug, 2007
Perfect Answers to Silent Questions Ekstasis Editions, 2015
in A Critical (Ninth) Assembling: Essays on Visual Literature Assembling Press, 1979
Richard Kostelanetz, ed.
Two Replies to Louis Dudek
in A Real Good Goosin’ : Talking Poetics with The Vehicule Poets Maker Press, 1981
in The Insecurity of Art: Essays on Poetics Véhicule Press, 1982
Ken Norris, Peter Van Toorn, ed.
L’aventure de l’amour individuel et de la société in Ecrire L’Amour
Editions de l’Hexagone, 1984
The Effect on the Audience Was Not Meant to Be Satisfying Véhicule Press, 2007
and Something’s Got To Be Said For The Other Side
in LANGUAGE ACTS: English Poetry in Quebec 1970-2000,
Jason Camlot and Todd Swift, ed.
Concrete, Visual, Video Poetry: Wascana Review, University
A Model for Teaching Creative Visual Writing of Regina, 2011
in Wascana Review, Vol. 43, No 1
Videopoetry: A Manifesto
Critical Inquiry Blog, 2012