Animated Poetry: A Starting Point

Ah, the art of poetry. The hobby of sappy teens lost in romance and old men sitting around with their fine teas. Well actually, no. Poetry can be about anything, for anyone, and comes in all sorts of shapes and forms. Some poems carry powerful messages and others are just for fun. Take a look at the lyrics of songs, you’ll see what I mean.

Poetry can be performed in a plethora of ways, including by song, stage performance, and even in animation. Animated poetry carries extra appeal, as it takes well written work and gives it a visual representation to go with it. The visual aspect helps the audience get immersed in the poem and brings out the emotional expression the writer is trying to portray. Animation does this well, as it can work with many different art forms and aesthetics. For anyone looking to the art of animated poetry, here’s a starting list of great poems with their visual interpretations. To help experience the poems, there is the option of turning closed captions on so the words can be visible. These poems have been picked for their diversity, to show what kinds of poems are out there to enjoy.

1. Storm By Tim Minchin

Tim Minchin's Storm the Animated Movie

Storm is a break from the emotional tidal wave poetry can drag us into and instead gives us an Australian comedian with a point or two to make. This hilarious poem represents all of us that are fed up with the annoying hipsters of society. Sick of hearing about zodiac signs and medicine conspiracies? Ever want to go on a rant about the lack of logic in some of your friends beliefs? Well Minchin does it for you with some light jazz and plenty of bluntness. Storm is a great example of how poetry can be about anything, even hipsters in London and those fed up with them, plus you get to listen to Minchin’s accent.

2. To This Day Project By Shane Koyczan

To This Day Project - Shane Koyczan

Now there is a lot of great work by Shane Koyczan. He is an overall talented writer and his work is often emotional, inspirational, and is in collaboration with other artists. You might want to brace yourself for this one, it might hit you in the feels. This anti-bullying video is absolutely beautiful in so many ways. From the animation to the music to the poem itself this video reminds us all what it’s like to go through life as the underdog and why we need to fight against the issue of bullying many still face today. The reason why this poem has “project” in its title is because it is part of an anti-bullying movement Koyczan has started. This video is a collaboration from many different people with many talents that went into it. Koyczan has a couple of other animated poems including Troll and Shoulders, so if you like this then there’s more from his corner.

3. The Dead By Billy Collins

The Dead - Billy Collins Animated Poetry

This is simply a nice and short poem with some animation to accompany it. Nothing too fancy. It’s a good choice if you’re looking for something light to watch, plus Collins is one of those poets you’ll find everywhere so if you’re trying to get into poetry in general he’s a name to know. The Dead is about how the spirits of the dead watch the living, in a not so creepy kind of way. Unlike the rest on this list, this poem isn’t narrated by Collins himself but the producer does have a whole YouTube channel of Collins’ work animated and ready to be watched if you’re interested in more of his work.

4. When Love Arrives By Sarah Kay And Phil Kaye

Another light and sweet poem, this time about the realizations of relationships. Both comedic and lighthearted, When Love Arrives is like a breath of fresh air after all the heavy poetry that tugs at our heart-strings. It’s also a reminder of how fun poetry can be. Although this video is more of a Typography rather than a full animated video, it’s still visually appealing and adds to the enjoyment of the poem. When Love Arrives is less of a sappy love poem and more about the life lessons learned from relationships and accepting both life and people for who they are. This poem is from a live performance from Kay and Kaye, with the audience to accompany your own reactions.

5. There’s a Man in the Woods By Jacob Streilein

Want some suspense? There’s a Man in the Woods offers a great build up of thrill as the poem progresses and the plot thickens. This poem is about how a man lost his job and the bitterness he carries with him. If you think being an elementary school teacher is easy, think again. This video and poem go hand-in-hand as the visuals show you what lines of the poem really means by showing, not telling what is happening while keeping you on you’re toes. There’s a Man in the Woods shows how fast life can turn around and how far a little lie can go. There is a YouTube channel full of other work by students in the CalArts animation program if you’re interested in what else they have to show.

There are plenty of other poems out there. Both and have a library of animated poems to delve into. If there are any other videos like these that should be mentioned say so in the comments along with your reactions to the videos! Be sure to check out some of the other work by these poets as well.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. Emily Deibler

    Thanks for this great list of animated poems! What a cool idea. I love the tone of this piece as well.

  2. I really liked the first animated poem.

  3. If reading a poem is like reading the poet’s mind, then experiencing an animated poem is like reaching into the poet’s soul. Especially if the art and photography are also original works of the poet.

  4. This makes it obvious that poetry will NEVER become a lost art!

  5. Jacque Venus Tobias

    LaRose- thank you for this introduction to a new aspect of expressing poetry. I think I have found a new project!!!!!

  6. Munjeera

    Awesome article!

  7. Berenice Trej

    My interest in animated poetry stems from the relatively new field of kinetic typography.

  8. I’ll have to try this animation idea with my own poems. Thanks for introducing me to it.

  9. I can see tech-poetry reaching a whole new young generation of poets. It is appealing and adds more dimensions to an already off-the-chart art.

    • whilesome

      You are right about technology bringing poetry to the younger generation. I never even thought about that – how wonderful!

  10. Emmaline

    I loved all of the video poems. But this one is for me personally the best one.

  11. For someone like me, who has little to no animation experience, this was most interesting. Thanks!

  12. Tom Waits’ reading of Charles Bukowski’s “Nirvana” is fantastic:

  13. I love the way technology has made it easy to make animated poetry.

  14. Wow I absolutely fell in love ..These are so awesome ,I just want too say thank you…

  15. This inspired my creativity to experiment with animation.

  16. As a writer myself, the animation, video editing, are strong mediums of expression and prose.

  17. The Best Cigarette by Collins is great.

  18. nick jago

    great thx

  19. The videos are so inspirational.

  20. I love Billy Collins. I’m incorporating music and sound with my poetry right now. This is just inspiring me to get filming and editing as well!

  21. I love animated poetry texts.

  22. Thank you, much appreciated.

  23. I really enjoyed this.

  24. Very cool! And now I’m off to learn more about Tim Minchin.

  25. Here’s another one, my favorite, Roll the Dice – Charles Bukowski

  26. EarlGreyTRex

    To This Day by Shane Koyczan changed my life! I was pumped to see it on this list. For most of my life, I’ve been less than interested in poetry. I guess it was a little too vague for me. But in To This Day, I saw something new and exciting. I was wrapped around every word like I was in the climax of an amazing speech or the depths of a good story.
    Story-telling is important in my culture. It’s how we explain everything from our religion to our histories. This is an amazing way to tell a story and I’m excited to see animated poetry grow.

  27. Amazing poetry, never thought of it as a visual medium before. Fantastic!

  28. Very interesting, this is one of my favourite poetry animations: Allen Ginsberg`s, Howl.

  29. I enjoyed these.Watching and listening. Thanks.

  30. I really like this idea…unfortunately I am currently in China and cannot access the animations😨…will try again in another country…

  31. Lexzie

    This was lovely.

  32. I just love “there’s a man in the woods” it has all of that spooky goodness I love in a poem.

    • IRBurnett

      My thoughts exactly. There are few things better than good poetry and stellar animation with a healthy dose of beautiful darkness.

  33. Poetry, you beautiful, dying, experimental medium of creative expression. I ask the question of poetry and how will it evolve? It seems that a poem can only gain real traction in the public eye through the medium of animation, music and branding. I’ll admit to not being unable to retain my attention on a book of poetry where there are other mediums available. The “To This Day Project” was my first real exposure to contemporary poetry; it was so beautiful that it made me take a poetry class where I gained a true appreciation of poetry. But when the chips have fallen, if I was to chose between reading a novel, reading a book of poetry, or watching a video, a book of poetry would be dead last. However, when a poem is animated and made available via different artistic mediums it takes the cake. Soon the world of written poetry will draw to a close and animated poetry will be the only way for an artist to display their art; but what happens to those poets who can’t get their hands on or afford an animation team?

  34. Emily Esten

    Great introduction to animated poetry…I remember seeing the “To This Day Project” awhile back.

  35. Pamela Maria

    Honestly this is so inspiring. I love poetry; reading, writing, enjoying it but it is a dying medium in terms of popularity and it can be difficult to sit through and enjoy. This is such a great way to not only mix media with it but also to refresh the genre! This also reminds me of this video game that came out a few months ago called “Elegy for a Dead World “. It’s function is to turn players into writers and poets and although I haven’t tried it out yet, I really love the idea of mixing digital media with traditional media. Reading, writing length novels, poetry, journalism is all turning into a dying art (slowly) and it’s nice to see new things created to change the game.

  36. I love that poetry, despite getting less attention than many other art forms, still manages to flourish and develop like this. Multimedia poems like this are not only enjoyable in their own right, but push both poets and visual artists/animators to adapt to different artistic conventions, which drives art as a whole forward.

  37. As much as animating poetry seems like a cool idea I just don’t see how it can add anything to poetry. Poetry is created to be read and heard – that’s its primary domain – where it is truly powerful. Adding images distracts from the sound and taste of words. I’m not saying it’s not a promising new form of art, but I feel like the poetry itself would have to be created with the intention of being animated for the end product to have much interest.

  38. Lauren Mead

    What a great list of animated poems!

  39. Thanks so much for this entry and the two libraries I knew nothing about. Poets are so heavily committed to the printed page, it is good to know there are so many experimenting with visual accompaniment, Personally, I thing the book is a dying breed and poets need to explore You Tube and USB’s that people can plug into their cars an listen in a traffic jam instead of building to road rage.

  40. I really like the idea of animated poetry, but I would also echo @dwitmer’s comment. What these videos are doing, in a sense, is substituting for what has long been the work of the human imagination- envisioning and creating explicit meaning out of words on a page. It can be a tool for furthering poetry, but it can also take away from the original experience of reading it and creating it for yourself from the clues the poet leaves.

  41. alexpaulsen

    I love Shane Koyczan’s poem about bullying, it’s excellently potrayed through the animation.

  42. Thank you for the visually interesting animations. I am not sure how poetry relates to text that is very explaining. In poetry one does not tell what happens in a linear way, that is the art of it. Adding animation to the narrator’s voice makes the poem less free to be interpreted. Animated poetic documentary captures the essence of poetry. Check that term if you are interested of poetic poetic expression.

  43. artificial

    great article, and Billy Collins always…

  44. Hi, Above are some awesome animated poetry movies. I was creating some animated poetry videos myself on YouTube and Googled animated poetry and that’s how I found this site. My YouTube is Variety Videos. My animated poetry music videos aren’t great like these above but are just of an animated character reciting an olden day poem. I try to write some poems myself although I’m not very good and can’t think of metaphors for poems.

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