The first frames of Kristin Radtke’s video essay “That Kind of Daughter” show a lighted square projected onto a screen, reminiscent of 1970s home movies. In a moment, the black-and-white cut-out shape of a finger appears, and then another; two hands materialize holding a baby chick. “My mother feeds them bananas out of her hands,” says Radtke’s voiceover in a dreamy, melodious tone. “And when they get sick, my father hits them over the head with the thick end of a screwdriver and throws their bodies into the woods.”
Video essays, along with cinepoems and video fiction, offer editors of literary journals an exciting new way to engage online readers. Writers previously restricted to text have taken up cameras and microphones – and, in Radtke’s case, paper and scissors for stop-motion photography – to create short films inspired by their own words.