Innovative Jacksonville poet sells DVD

by ANNA RABHAN
Ever wish there were an alternative to those generic, boxed holiday cards -something fun and different that your friends and relatives will be talking about until the next holiday season? An innovative Jacksonville poet has just the thing you’re looking for, and it doesn’t even have to be just for the holiday season!
Mary Jo Trenkler started writing, producing and recording radio commercials in college as a broadcasting major where, because of her thick Southern accent, she went by the radio name “Scarlet.” She also began writing for herself at the same time. She says, “The structure that was required at college gave me a nice balance between it and some more fun … things to write about.” Trenkler went on to a career in broadcasting. She wrote and produced commercials and promotional announcements for two Jacksonville television stations. Her work won her four Florida Emmys.
When she went to work for a local film and video production company, she helped write two screenplays. She also began to write humorous poetry and essays for her own amusement. She didn’t keep them to herself for long though. Trenkler began writing a Community Column at www.jacksonville.com in 2005, called Scarlet’s Rhymes, in which she posted her poems and reflections. “I got the poetry ‘bug’ from my Dad,” says Trenkler. “He liked to write goofy limericks for some of his friends and I began doing some of that in college as well. I would add a Southern accent to it from time to time and people seemed to enjoy it.”
Her poetry posts led a friend to ask her to write poems for Web pages she was designing. Her friend would send a picture and Trenkler would have to write a poem for it. “I called it ‘poetry on demand,'” she says. “It really gave me another good foundation of how to look at something and automatically begin thinking of how I could write a poem about it.”
She would soon need that experience for her biggest poetry project yet – a poetry DVD greeting card. It may sound odd at first, but wait until you hear the story.
Trenkler has an admitted love of family history and is often inspired to write about her grandmothers and their lives on farms “back in the day.” Searching for such inspiration, she happened to Google the name of the small Florida town where her father grew up and came across a site showing an old photograph of a cotton gin that her grandfather had run. She e-mailed the webmaster, hoping to get a copy of the photo. What she got was an unexpected connection.
The website’s creator, New Jersey resident Vic Campbell, also happens to be the son of Trenkler’s father’s best childhood friend. Although Campbell and Trenkler have never met, they hit it off immediately and also found that they had followed similar career paths. In addition to being a webmaster, Campbell shoots, edits and produces video projects.
Campbell had shot some snow scenery video near his home in New Jersey and set it to instrumental music. He asked Trenkler to see if she could write some spoken poetry for the scenes with the idea of selling it as a peaceful, relaxing video for retirement centers, hospitals and nursing homes. And with that, Snowetry was born.
Trenkler was so impressed with the stunning images that she wrote twelve poems and recorded them at a local recording company in short order. When Campbell heard the poetry in her soothing voice and saw how each poem fit so perfectly with the scenery and music, they began to discuss marketing the DVD more broadly as a greeting card.
Trenkler says Snowetry was a special thing to do for her partly because “it gave me the chance to write about snow … which I’ve never seen much of in my life!”
Trenkler and Campbell have been devoted to promoting their Snowetry DVD from the beginning. Campbell set up a website for it and Trenkler posted clips in her Scarlet’s Rhymes column along with short essays about the creation of Snowetry or Snowetry-related reflections. They have approached friends in the business world about financing and approached holiday gift catalogs about listing their DVD.
In addition to being marketed as a scenic video and a DVD greeting card, which buyers can write their greeting directly on, affix a stamp and drop right in the mail, the project may have other personalities in the near future. Trenkler contacted another community columnist, freelance writer and creative manager Deborah Hansen (http://home.comcast.net/~debrhan48/site/), about other ideas for marketing the winter-themed poetry video. Hansen, a former teacher, viewed the video and immediately suggested that it could be a great tool to teach poetry and other subjects in schools. The two are currently collaborating to write curricula and create resources for school use of the DVD. They will attend the Home Educators Resources and Information convention on July 17 and 18 in order to demonstrate to home educators how the DVD could be used as a teaching tool.
Meanwhile, Trenkler continues to work hard with her husband and brother-in-law at their vending business, Imbiss Vending. “But,” she says, “I do consider myself a writer first.” Since she has joined the freelance writers group founded by Deborah Hansen, she says she has “been inspired and encouraged to possibly write a book of poetry.”
The Snowetry DVD is available at www.rhymecreek.com as an MPeg4 download for a special-offer price of $5, as a single DVD for $14.95, or in packs of five or 20. Among viewer favorites is the poem “Day’s End.” One fan says, “The poems are … beautiful as always. The video is kind of hypnotic. I hope people who aren’t familiar with Snowetry will take time to watch. They will be pleasantly surprised!”
The DVD is ideal for those who want to send a beautiful, entertaining, multi-media greeting for winter or the holiday season. One other suggested use is as a “cool-down gift” for friends and loved ones in areas that don’t see much snow or even low temperatures – like Florida!

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april, 2022

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