If you haven’t been keeping up with the Late Love Poems film project (30 films featuring the poetry of Steve Griffiths in 30 weeks), you’re in for a particular treat this week, with the debut of Film 7. Griffiths comments:
This is an important poem for me, about an extraordinary moment of realisation when you fully see the individuality of the person you love. I read it at our wedding for that reason. What’s been done to it in this film is something else. It was the first poem I worked on really hard after unhappy trials in front of the camera, and I rediscovered levels, nuances, turns of rhythm and pace that I’d forgotten since I wrote it. Then there’s Eamon Bourke’s film work, and the first substantial, astonishingly sensitive, musical input from Ivan “Ogmios” Owen, of battlerap fame on YouTube, who I’ve known since he was two. The way it falls together feels special.
This performance-style poetry film is interesting not just for its content (which, as someone who just fell in love in my late 40s, I kind of identify with), but also for the very well thought-out publication strategy of which it is a part. As the YouTube description says:
‘Spring’ is the first of 30 Late Love Poems by Steve Griffiths going up on YouTube weekly from 27 July, culminating in the book of the same name to be published by Cinnamon Press in time for Valentine’s 2016. Find out more from www.latelovepoems.com.
‘Spring’ is filmed in the Mortimer Forest in Shropshire, in the very landscape of the poem’s beginning, and at the same time of the year.
Funded by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
Eamon Bourke (Park6 Productions) directed and edited, with sound, camera assisting and photography by Jules May. There’s a good biography of Griffiths on the Late Love Poems website, which also features his thoughts about the project on the About page. This is especially interesting because of what it suggests about the power of active collaborations between poets and filmmakers:
The feeling that I’d made something life-enhancing fed my desire to share these poems in a new way. I hope that with these films we’ve created a format with an intimacy, an immediacy, and something of the quality of a live reading, but which is retrievable and can be savoured and shared.
Thanks to the support of Arts Council England, I’ve had a great team for this project – and it’s certainly been a voyage of discovery for us. My initial flatness in our first experiments in front of a camera made me work hard once again on my poems, and I rediscovered intonations, insights, glancing emphases, that were there when I first worked on the lines, but had somehow gone missing over time. I’ll always be grateful for that: after all the preparation for standing in front of a camera, I can’t say how much I learned about the quality of attention to a line of poetry in performance. And hearing my wife read my poems naturally and beautifully in rehearsal as I worked to learn them reminded me of the multiplicity of voices that can own a poem – but of course, especially hers.
Over months, it took on new forms, with the visual dimensions and echoes glancing off the poems’ imagery from film-maker Eamon Bourke – and glancing off the map of my face in close-up – and the unexpected gifts of music from two friends I’d known for more than thirty years – one old, one young, and their meeting again in these films, responding to my poems, bringing sensitivities from spectacularly different worlds to enrich my work.
Finally, I must say I’m impressed with Cinnamon Press‘ commitment to this project, going so far as to hire an excellent PR consultant to get the word out. I wish that more of the really ambitious poetry-film and videopoetry projects that I’ve seen in recent years had had that kind of backing. The trouble is, most poets, filmmakers and video artists I know are really crap at promotion. It’s the one area where the DIY ethos isn’t of very much use.