blackbird online journal Spring 2008  Vol. 7  No. 1
poetry gallery features

A joint venture of the Department of English at Virginia Commonwealth University and New Virginia Review, Inc.


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About video essays

Like its print counterpart, the video essay is an attempt of personal reflection while engaging with the facts of the world. The video essay, writes Phillip Lopate, “wears proudly the confusion of an independent soul trying to grope in isolation toward truth.” Agnes Varda, the poetic French filmmaker who coined the term cinécriture, or film-writing, best described the promise of the video essay when noting that, for her, writing meant more than simply wording a script. Choosing images, designing sound—these, too, are part of that process. At its best, the video essay combines the visceral power of sound and image, building a sympathetic resonance with language  and taking a direct route to the senses. We believe this emerging form of creative nonfiction to be, by its very nature, personal, poetic, open to invention. We invite your explorations.

Specifically, Blackbird is seeking video essays between two and ten minutes in length (with five to seven minutes being an ideal).

Submissions accepted for publication will be asked for accompanying text, preferably a process statement about your work. 

Work is intended for publication in the v8n2 Fall 2009 issue of Blackbird.

Submitting via email

  • Do NOT send work as an attachment. Rather send an URL link to an online version of work.
  • Send all email submissions to—this email address is a submission drop box only.
  • Begin the subject line of your email with Video Essay.
  • In the body of the email, type or paste your cover letter, which should include:
          your name, mailing address, email address, and phone number.
          the title of submitted work.
          work’s exhibition history (if any).
          URL link to online version of the work.
          (standard formats preferred:  .mov, .avi or .swf)    

Submitting via regular mail

  • Mail your video essay in a page-size manila envelope, your full name and address on the outside, to Editor, Video Essays.
  • Video essay must be submitted in one of the following standard formats: .mov (Quick Time), .avi (AVI file format), or .swf (flash).
  • Include a cover letter, which should include:
                  name, mailing address, email address, and phone number.
                  the  title and length of submitted work.
                  work’s exhibition history (if any).
  • Media must be clearly labeled with name, email, and title of submission.
  • Media will not be returned.
  • All correspondence regarding submissions will be by email.
  • Mail submissions to:
          VCU Department of English
          P.O. Box 843082 
          Richmond, VA 23284-3082

Accepted video work will be hosted on our server and remain online in our archive.

Direct all queries to:

Special thanks to video essayist John Bresland for his generous advice on the language of this call. Likewise to Blackbird's Lee Bloxom for her work spearheading this effort.

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