This is a great example of how a good soundtrack (here, the work of Luca Nasciuti, with voiceover by Alastair Cook) can really make a poetry film work. It’s from a new-to-me-project:
The fitba, the teams, the love for the game. Nicknames was written by William Richardson, read by Alastair Cook and filmed by Jane Groves. Nicknames was made as part of Luminate Festival’s Well Versed project. Workshops with Craigshill Good Neighbour Network were led by poet Rachel McCrum and filmmaker Alastair Cook. Nicknames was edited by Alastair Cook.
Scotland’s creative ageing festival, is held from 1st to 31st October across Scotland each year. The festival brings together older people and those from across the generations to celebrate our creativity as we age, share stories of ageing and explore what growing older means to all of us. Each year, there are activities all over Scotland – from art workshops and dance classes to music performances and authors’ events – and you will find Luminate in theatres, galleries, community halls, care homes and lunch clubs, as well as events online that take us to audiences everywhere.
This is Filmpoem 50, a collaboration between Scottish filmpoet Alastair Cook and 20 other poets hailing from Scotland, England, Ireland, the U.S., South Africa and Belgium. I have a rule against posting films containing my own poetry to Moving Poems, but in this case my lines account for only 1/20th of the poem, so I decided not to be precious about it. Besides, it’s too important a poetry film not to feature. The composition process involved Alastair sending each writer a snippet of found film. To quote his original email:
You can be trite, erudite, short or shorter (no more than three or four lines) but the brief is this—Americana, the 1950s, travel.
All the clips are from the same batch of film and the artistic conceit is that a narrative will thread through these. This batch of film has this family move through America over the years, these boys grow up and some of the footage I have is heart-wrenching, always tinged with the salient and sombre fact that I source these from house-clearances, that the death of the filmmaker releases this footage to me.
The official description, from Vimeo and the Filmpoem website, reads:
Watch Alastair Cook’s brand new film, three years in the making, with new writing by twenty of the world’s best poets, sountracked by composer Luca Nasciutia and read by poet Rachel McCrum – screens worldwide from Autumn 2016. New ekphrasis work by poets John Glenday, Vicki Feaver, Stevie Ronnie, Janie McKie, Brian Johnstone, Jo Bell, Andrew Philip, Linda France, Dave Bonta, Angela Readman, Michael Vandebril, Gerard Rudolf, George Szirtes, Emily Dodd, Ian Duhig, Rachel McCrum, Robert Peake, Polly Rowena Atkin, Pippa Little and Vona Groarke.
This was originally planned as Filmpoem 40, but got delayed for a number of reasons, during which I believe the concept changed and matured a bit. I list Alastair as the chief poet here because it was his concept from start to finish, and he edited and moved around the submissions after they all came in. The decision to have a single narrator was, I think, a good one, but it’s amazing how well the conjoined text holds together on its own. Clearly, this is an approach to filmpoetry/videopoetry composition deserving of further experimentation. Alastair had been building on what he learned in making his Twenty Second Filmpoem back in 2012, which also involved 20 poets and some found footage.
In other Filmpoem-related news, I see that there will be a fourth Filmpoem Festival, or series of festivals, dubbed Filmpoem Sixteen, though it doesn’t sound as if we can expect an open call:
Filmpoem Sixteen will focus on a series of invited curated events. The first of these is at the Hauge Centre in Ulvik in Norway, where Alastair is artist in residence in May. Alastair has directed The Sword, a new film working with Hauge’s incredible landscape poetry, alongside readings by John Glenday, cinematography by James Norton and sound by Luca Nasciuti; the film will premier on May 12th. Alongside this new film, the Hauge Centre will screen a Scottih retrospective of Alastair’s work and selected works by others from the Filmpoem Festival submission archive.
Check back for further announcements as our new director Helmie Stil brings her own flavour to Filmpoem.
To make up for my prolonged absence (I’ve been relocating to the UK for the winter), here’s a whole triptych of filmpoems from Filmpoem itself: the crack team of filmmaker Alastair Cook and composer Luca Nasciuti, working in commission for a fascinating project from Northumberland-based poet Stevie Ronnie.
In July 2013 writer and multidisciplinary artist Stevie Ronnie visited the High Arctic as part of the Arctic Circle international residency programme. Arctica is a year-long series of interlinked artworks on the subject of climate change that Stevie has made in response to that experience.
These works are interdisciplinary in nature encompassing literature, performance, photography, artist’s books, film and a public art installation.
[…] The films also feature Arctic footage shot by US-based artist Michael Eckblad alongside found footage from Alastair’s collection.
‘What I Should Have Said’ is the first Filmpoem of the Arctica triptych. It takes us into the air as we settle in to listen – then brings us back to ground in the Arctic. This is a love poem to the family that Stevie left behind, originally composed shortly before he set off on his Arctic journey. ‘What I Should Have Said’ appears in Stevie’s collection of poetry ‘Manifestations’ (Red Squirrel Press).
‘Time and the Two Year Old’s Hands’ is the is the second Filmpoem of the Arctica triptych. It reaches the midway point of the triptych and turns back on itself, the hourglass turning over, injecting an urgency into this plaintive call for the survival of our children. The poem ‘Time and the Two Year Old’s Hands’ was composed as a creative response to the IPCC report on Climate Change that was commissioned by Tipping Point, the Free Word Centre and Spread the Word for the publication ‘Weatherfronts: Climate Change and the Stories We Tell’.
‘From Arctica’ is the is the third Filmpoem of the Arctica triptych. It brings us back from the Arctic to Northumberland and was originally composed in response to the tragic and unexpected death of a child in Stevie’s local community. This difficult and moving ending to the tryptich is about the about the acceptance of the unspeakable, the unthinkable and those things that are around us that we choose not to see. ‘From Arctica’ is an extract from a yet to be published poetic narrative that explores climate change, light, dark and our relationship with death against the backdrop of the Arctic landscape.
Watching them back to back, there’s a definite gestalt effect for me. Also, these filmpoems certainly put my own difficulties adjusting to a more northern latitude (London! Yowza) in perspective.
In the build-up to last weekend’s Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, sports pundits were talking about the decline of boxing, eclipsed (at least in the states) by MMA. But this filmpoem by Alastair Cook and poet Ross Wilson suggests that boxing is far from dead. The description at the Filmpoem website reads, in part:
Written and read by boxer and poet Ross Wilson, this is a heartfelt dedication to Alex ‘Spangles’ Hunter. Filmed and recorded in the Greenock Boxing Club, this film forms part of Alastair Cook’s work In Order to Win, You Must Expect to Win.
Alastair writes: “What began as a yearlong residency centred on the Scottish port town of Greenock has developed into a longer photographic investigation of this place and its people. One element of this is a series made with Greenock Boxing Club. Led by Danny Lee, who boxed at the 1960 Olympics with Muhammad Ali, and his inspirational son Danny Lee, the club is based in a Salvation Army church in Cartsdyke. Like much of post-industrial Britain, Cartsdyke is an area with difficult statistics on drugs, crime and mortality. With this work I want to tell the story of these boxers, the families who live here, struggle here, rejoice here.”
Alastair Cook of Filmpoem directs, with cinematography by James William Norton and sound by Luca Nasciuti. “The Day the Deer Came” was the Second Prize winner in the UK’s 2014 National Poetry Competition. The Vimeo description notes that “Filmpoems of the top three winning poems have been commissioned in partnership with Alastair Cook and Filmpoem. Filmpoems of all eleven winning poems will be available to watch later this year, and will tour at festivals around the country and beyond.”
For more on the poet, Joanne Key, see her page at the Poetry Society website.
Filmpoem director Alastair Cook invited Makar Liz Lochhead, the National Poet of Scotland, to read three of Robert Burns’s poems and together with Italian composer Luca Nasciuti they have created three beautiful interpretations of some of Burns’s most loved works: I Murder Hate, Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation and A Man’s a Man for a’ That.
A terrific poem and film that should appeal to gun-toting meat-eaters and vegan gun-control advocates alike. (And what else but art or poetry could bridge such a chasm?) Director Alastair Cook writes,
I have admired Vicki Feaver and her words for some time. I recorded this in 2011 and kept it safe, finally entrusting the sound to Luca Nasciuti and the cinematography to James William Norton, our core Filmpoem team. I’ve worked with Vicki on the amazing community arts project in Greenock, Absent Voices and also Empire Cafe, Louise Welsh and Jude Barber’s Commonwealth 2014 project, looking at the unbearable links between slavery and Scotland.
So, the Gun. I may stop now, because (forgive the immodesty) I love this one. Love it. The timbre in Vicki’s voice is dry, broken, words delivered with such a punch. I enjoyed editing this one, it’s why I do this, it was so very difficult to get right, but I do hope you enjoy it. The Gun has now screened at Felix (Antwerp), Poetry International (London) and will screen at ZEBRA (Berlin). [links added]