The poem was written out of a passion to challenge the invisibility of the many ways women are silenced and I tried it out in performance with many different audiences of women – in schools, universities, feminist groups, at poetry events and in prison. Clare and I then collaborated with three drama students at the University of Kent, Canterbury, England who interpreted the poem through movement.
This locally-produced, no-budget film has been screened internationally at feminist film festivals.
The dancer/choreographers are Kristin Bacheva, Vanessa Owusu and Elle Payne. The sound is by Daniel Battersby, with music by Jahzzar and Ars Sonor.
A simple but perfect animation of an Anne Sexton poem by Montreal-based multi-disciplinary artist Ohara Hale, with Maria Popova of the venerable Brain Pickings blog supplying the voiceover. It’s been viewed 136,000 times since Hale posted it to Vimeo in May of 2015. Popova blogged about their collaboration — a great post, too long to reproduce here. A snippet:
Hale’s concept, predicated on the mesmerism of angles, was inspired by legendary neurologist Oliver Sacks and his work on how the blind see the world. It sparked in her a fascination with how they construct a kaleidoscope of angularity, which led her to imagine how a dog is perceived not as a single dog but as a million dogs, each “seen” from a different angle. Many of the angles don’t resemble a “dog” in the pictorial sense but still contribute to the understanding of what a dog is.
This way of deconstructing the world into fragments and reconstructing them into a wholeness of understanding is so different from how we see via regular vision that, as Dr. Sacks so movingly wrote in The Mind’s Eye, the newly sighted are often utterly overwhelmed by having to process information in this new way and revert to “blindness,” closing their eyes and continuing to navigate the world scanning for angles.
‘Quiet Sounds’ is my second video collaboration with the marvelous UK poet and performer, Lucy English. Both have been made as part of her great, multi-artist project, ‘The Book of Hours‘. The earlier video, ‘The Last Days‘, started with images. This one started with the poem and sound. The soundscape is comprised entirely of Lucy’s voice and small noises in the environment. I wanted the ‘bed’ of the soundscape to be quietly musical and constructed it from a collection of sounds recorded by various artists, and found on Creative Commons licences at Freesound. The central element is the metronomic sound of a clock ticking. I edited Lucy’s voice in loose rhythm with the clock, elongating the pace of her reading and leaving spaces for the various other sounds to have their ‘solo’ moments: a pheasant and a wood pigeon, a sheep, a cow, an old fridge, air traffic. I carefully built up the soundtrack piece by piece until I had a complete first draft. Then I looked for images that might add further to the audiovisual experience of the poem. The poem describes a moment of solitude, a hush when a woman becomes aware of the little sounds in her environment. It is implied she is inside a domestic space at the time. In my net wanderings, I found a marvelous series of interior shots by Carol Blyberg (aka Smilla4 on Flickr), also available on a Creative Commons licence. I worked with the images using zooms and slow dissolves that changed in rhythm with Lucy’s voice. For such an apparently simple piece, it was time-intensive to make, especially in the refining process that saw both sound and image go through many drafts. I gave a lot of attention to subtle details, in a meditative way. Maureen Doallas has since featured ‘Quiet Sounds’ on her wonderful blog, Writing Without Paper.
See Vimeo for the text of the poem, as well as links to all the soundtrack sources.
It is concerned with not speaking out, keeping your feet still or actually biting the bullet and achieving inner freedom. And about how individual mental states influence the world.