Filmmaker: Alastair Cook

Allow Yourself This One Day by Max Wallis

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https://vimeo.com/70471428

This is Alastair Cook‘s Filmpoem 33, and departs rather significantly from his other filmpoems in its unstinting focus on the poet/narrator.

Commissioned by Harper’s Bazaar UK and poet/ model Max Wallis. Allow Yourself This One Day is the final poem in Max’s début pamphlet, Modern Love, where he traces the year-long course of a love affair and all its constituent parts: sex and sensuality, longing and loneliness, desire and disappointment, heady beginnings and inevitable endings; in a world dominated by high street brands, text messaging and social media.

Luca Nasciuti did both the photography and the music for this one.

According to Max Wallis’ website, “The Arts Council has funded Max’s new film project. He is currently Harper’s Bazaar’s ‘roaming poet’. He produces poetry videos which look at the world of modelling through a poetic lens.”

Shaking Shells by the Filmpoem Workshop children

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I was privileged to watch the unveiling of this videopoem last month in Dunbar, immediately following its creation:

Shaking Shells is a Filmpoem Workshop film, made in a period of three hours with five children, the amazing children’s writer and poet Emily Dodd, composer Luca Nasciuti and artist Alastair Cook directing, filming and editing. This is part of the incredible new Filmpoem Festival, which was held at Dunbar Town House on 3rd and 4th August this year.

Emily Dodd goes into much more detail about the process on her blog:

Last month I led a 3-hour Filmpoem workshop with five children aged between five and ten as part of the first UK Filmpoem Festival in Dunbar.

The workshop started with exercises and games to get the children thinking like poets (I wrote a bit about it here). Then we spent the second half of the workshop writing a group poem on a poetry walk.

Each section of the walk involved a different poetry challenge and at the next stop we heard the results of the last challenge and I set the next challenge. For example when you’re walking:

  • Explore the wall, touch it, smell it, describe it
  • What sounds do you notice? Describe them
  • Find your favourite object on the beach, if you find a better one, swap it. Describe it.

Each child worked independently during the challenge but we came together in a circle at the end of each challenge and each contributed one line to the poem.

[…]

During the walk artist Alastair Cook was capturing film and composer Luca Nasciuti recorded sounds. When we were down on the beach Donald (5) was in the process of finding his favourite object when he made a discovery….

“I’ve found a sound for the film!” he shouted. He was sitting down with a handful of mussel shells in his hands and he shook them to show me. He tipped his ear towards the shells again to make sure they sounded right. “That’s brilliant Donald” I said. “Let’s show Luca so he can record it” and I called Luca over and Donald shook his shells again.

Do click through and read the rest.

A Westray Prayer by John Glenday

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A Westray Prayer by C.J. Hurst

http://vimeo.com/69640126

Filmpoem 32/A Westray Prayer by Alastair Cook

A Westray Prayer by Marc Neys (aka Swoon)
(See Marc’s blog for some process notes.)

One of the highlights of the Filmpoem Festival earlier this month in Dunbar, Scotland, was a screening of five films by five different filmmakers for this same poem, all of them employing the same reading by the author, which they were not allowed to cut up. This meant that each of the filmmakers had to decide how to fill the silence before and after the short text. John Glenday himself attended the screening, reading and introducing his poem, which, he pointed out, is partly about silence. “When we’re silent, we’re letting the world in,” he said, adding: “Silence gets all the best phrases.”

The other two filmmakers who contributed work for the screening, Ian Henderson and James Norton, don’t appear to have uploaded their films to the web, though Norton has shared his audio track at SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/james-w-norton/a-westray-prayer

After the Robins by Angela Readman

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http://vimeo.com/66227853

This is Alastair Cook‘s Filmpoem 31. He writes:

After the Robins is a magnificent tour de force of a poem by the English poet Angela Readman; Readman grew up in Middlesbrough and following university in Manchester relocated to Newcastle upon Tyne to complete a film studies MA. She completed a masters in creative writing at the University of Northumbria in 2000 and won a Waterstones prize for her distinctive poetry and prose. Her words are incredible, I think.

This film comes at a difficult time and is dedicated to my late Godfather, a real and bright presence in my young life.

The poem is read by my brother in life, Gérard Rudolf; the haunting lilting music composed by yvonnelyonmusic.com; I’m very pleased to say I’ll be working with Yvonne over the coming year with our filmpoem.com/absentvoices/ project. Please do think about following twitter.com/AbsentVoices for updates.

For more on Angela Readman, see her Wikipedia page.

The Lost Boy by John Glenday

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This is Sonatorrek (Loss of Sons), Filmpoem 30 by Alastair Cook, with sound by Luca Nasciuti.

The work is based on Glenday’s Uncle Alexander, who was in the D’ Battery 307th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery and died in the Battle of the Sambre on November 4th 1918, the same battle as Wilfred Owen. Glenday’s Grandfather, who was a blacksmith, signed the papers allowing his son to go into the Forces before he was of age.

The footage is used under a Creative Commons licence from archive.org

For more on John Glenday, see the Scottish Poetry Library website.

Born to Die by Zaher Mousa

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http://vimeo.com/61524740

One poem, one cameraman, two films! Reel Festivals commissioned both Alastair Cook and Swoon (Marc Neys) to make films for a piece by the Iraqi poet Zaher Mousa, using footage shot in Iraq by American poet Ryan Van Winkle. Here’s how Alastair introduced his film (the first one above) on Vimeo:

Born to Die is a poem by Iraqi poet Zaher Mousa and is in his native Arabic. There are no subtitles, as I want you to hear to the emotion in this great poet’s voice. The English text of the poem is available on the Vimeo site if you click through. Born to Die was a commission from Reel Festivals and was shot in Iraq for Filmpoem by Ryan van Winkle. It is a pair with Swoon, with him making the English language counterpart translated by Lauren Pyott and read by Jen Hadfield; this is the second film we have paired, the first being Aan Het Water.

These films are part of a larger collaboration between Reel Festivals and Zaher Mousa. Check out Mousa’s essay, “Reel Festivals – Dialogue through Poetry.”

Every Memory by Sheree Mack

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This is #6 in Alastair Cook‘s Absent Voices series “celebrating the legacy of the Greenock Sugar Sheds, vast Category A listed hulking relics of the sugar trade, a dark and sweet slice of Scots history.” Sheree Mack reads her poem as part of a soundtrack by Luca Nasciuti, with cinematography by Swoon (Mark Neys). This is one of several filmpoem collaborations between Cook and Neys, and you can catch both men along with Nasciuti live in London tomorrow night, February 16, as part of the London Poetry Systems anniversary bash.

Alastair Cook, Mark Neys and Luca Nasciuti are also all directors — along with yours truly — of the first Filmpoem Festival to be held in Dunbar, Scotland in early August. We’ve just posted the call.