• 2014-03-31


the 50 words project - a collection of spoken word motion poems


Create a poem on the theme of “Beginnings”. Make it exactly 50 words in length. Have the poet come down to the studio to voice it. Compose a musical soundtrack. Produce a motion poem. Publish it on the inter-web. Repeat once monthly.

Why motion poems?

The 50 Words Project did not start out as a series of motion poems. Initially, the initial idea was to commission a series of 50-word poems. The poet wrote their piece, then came down to the studio to record it over a click track. Later, the spoken word would be chopped up and remixed, diced and sliced, then re-assembled, re-imagined, in post, to ambient, minimal techno music.

Once all the pieces were produced, something strange began to happen. The pieces started to whisper back. They wanted to be “bigger”. They wanted “more”. They wanted to be taken to the next level.

If the written poem is the first level, then the addition of improvised music would be the second level. What would come next? Perhaps the next stage is to fuse the words and the musical performance to moving images? Motion poems!

Why 50 Words?

The 50 Words idea was born in Jasper and Hinton. It came about as a result of beat poetry workshops my friend Mark Kozub conducted there. Kozub spoke about how the workshops were split into two parts. Initially, there would be no limitation to the length of the poems. However, in the second half of the course he placed the 50 word limitation. The limitation caused the participants to place more focus on distilling the piece to it’s essence. Anything extraneous was removed. The quality of the works was profoundly improved.

Who Am I?

My name is Randall Edwards. I’m one of the founding fathers of the Raving Poets, an improvised beat poet experience which ran for 10 years from 2001 to 2011. In that time I’ve probably heard a million poems by a hundred thousand poets. Okay, no. That’s an exaggeration.

In many respects, the 50 words project seems to be a logical evolution of the performance poetry idea. Raving Poets allowed the poet to bring a poem and perform it live against a backdrop of improvised music. The 50 words project takes the word off the page, animate it and place it into the digital realm. To help give these poems a life of their own after they have left the hands of the poet.


Thanks to Mark Kozub, Michael Gravel and Amy Willans for their encouragement and help to shepherd this project through. A special thank you to the home team: Karen, Kate and Aidan; for their unending inspiration and support.