“Make me a Doorway” is an intriguing piece of video poetry by Jesse Russell Brooks, which features several poems written and performed by Alexzenia Davis. Davis reads the poems in a fast, clipped rhythm which some might find hard to follow, but her intricate texts provide a subtle exploration of relationships and emotional projection, written with a distinctive voice and crisp images. The poems are addressed to a friend or a lover, and above all, she wants to be seen for who she really is. She pleads to be seen as necessary, vibrant, and not simply as a screen for another person’s obsessions: “Do not make me a doorway to a past you disowned.”
Brooks accompanies these poems with a complex montage, intercutting footage of three different women. portrayed by Davis herself, Erika Ewing and Laila Petrone. Each woman has a very different presence, but they are all gazing inward, thinking intently about what is going on in the space between themselves and the hand of an intruder, who is seen knocking on several doorways.
The rhythm of Brooks’ editing cuts contrapuntally against the rhythm of the poetry, and his images refer to the text only obliquely. Rather than limiting Davis’ poetry by illustrating it literally, Brooks amplifies it by creating a visual counterpart, allowing the three characters to be imagined as both inspiring and writing the poems. This visual strategy helps us to hear inside of the poems, and enlarges their possibilities.