“Negative Space” is a poem by Ron Koertge, adapted into a a highly anticipated stop-motion animation short of the same name. The stop-motion animation “Negative Space” was co-directed by Max Porter and Ru Kywahata. In its entirety, it is available free on Vimeo. The short has been nominated for an Oscar, and explores the relationship between a son, and his father. It is a “tug at the heartstrings” short film, with emphasis on the ritual of packing a suitcase, passed from the father, to the son.
“Negative Space” by Ron Koertge
“My dad taught me to pack: lay out everything. Put back half. Roll things
that roll. Wrinkle-prone things on top of cotton things. Then pants, waist-
to-hem. Nooks and crannies for socks. Belts around the sides like snakes.
Plastic over that. Add shoes. Wear heavy stuff on the plane.
We started when I was little. I’d roll up socks. Then he’d pretend to put me
in the suitcase, and we’d laugh. Some guys bond with their dads shooting
hoops or talking about Chevrolets. We did it over luggage.
By the time I was twelve, if he was busy, I’d pack for him. Mom tried
but didn’t have the knack. He’d get somewhere, open his suitcase and text
me—”Perfect.” That one word from him meant a lot.
The funeral was terrible—him laid out in that big carton and me crying
and thinking, Look at all that wasted space.
“Negative Space” by Ron Koertge, from Sex World. © Red Hen Press, 2014