Filmmaker: Helen Dewbery

Song of the Soil by Jessica Mookherjee

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Jessica Mookherjee‘s poem “Song of the Soil”, from her collection, Tigress (Nine Arches Press, 2019), is given heartfelt filmic treatment by Helen Dewbery and Chaucer Cameron, under the auspices of their production house, Elephant’s Footprint. According to the book’s webpage,

Jess Mookherjee is of Bengali heritage and grew up in Swansea. She has been widely published in magazines, including Under the Radar, Agenda, The North, Rialto, Antiphon and Ink, Sweat & Tears. She is author of The Swell (Telltale Press) and Joyride (Black Light Engine Room Press) and Flood (Cultured Llama). She was highly commended in the Forward Prize 2017 for best single poem. Jessica works in Public Health and lives in Kent.

The poem expresses a deep connection to the Earth in an elegy of lost origins and disappearing ground. Giving further voice to these themes, the film is imbued with overexposed images of a natural world scorched yellow and burnt brown, and a soundtrack made ominous by ambient bass. Mookherjee’s solemn, rich narration rounds the elements of this powerfully organic piece.

The film is part of a series Helen and Chaucer have been doing for Nine Arches Press. They note that “The film-poems are not only viewed by Nine Arches’ existing readers and online audiences, but are a tool for their poets to engage more easily with their existing and new audiences.” The press, however, does not appear to embed any of the videos on the books’ pages, which is kind of baffling.

Poem in which we hear the word ‘drone’ by Josephine Corcoran

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This is the latest in a series of videos by Helen Dewbery and Chaucer Cameron for collections of poetry from Nine Arches Press, which just celebrated its tenth birthday with the publication of the book excerpted here: What Are You After? by Josephine Corcoran. (It’s a lovely collection, incidentally; I just bought a copy and began reading it yesterday. Always good to support a fellow blogger and late bloomer!)

Terms and Conditions by Tania Hershman

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A videopoem by Helen Dewbery and Chaucer Cameron for the title poem from Tania Hershman‘s debut poetry collection with Nine Arches Press. A song by Tania’s brother Nick Hershman, “You Get What You Deserve”, is also incorporated into the soundtrack, and the interplay between the two texts is part of what makes this work so well, I think.

The Future is Here by Bianca Stone

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“Nothing bad can touch this life I haven’t already imagined.” This stunning black-and-white poetry film from UK filmmaker Helen Dewbery and US poet Bianca Stone should serve as a reminder—if any were needed—of the power of international collaboration on this day when the advocates for Little England seem to have triumphed. The poem is from Stone’s 2014 collection Someone Else’s Wedding Vows. Colin Heaney composed the music.

The Litany of the Saints by Lucy English

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A film by Helen Dewbury for poet and poetry-film expert Lucy English‘s Book of Hours project, a “contemporary digital re-imagining of a Book of Hours,” according to English’s (non-public) postings on Facebook. Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon has also made films for the project, and apparently other filmmakers have pledged to contribute as well. Eventually all the films are to be featured on a dedicated website. I’ll be sure to link to it when it goes live.

Inside and Out by Anna-May Laugher

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A new film by Helen Dewbery using a text by the French-British poet Anna-May Laugher, with music by Kevin MacLeod. According to the credits, it was “created as part of a elephantsfootprint workshop led by Helen Dewbery and Chaucer Cameron with thanks to Hilda Sheehan for inviting us to be part of Poetry Swindon”. For more on Elephant’s Footprint, see their website and Vimeo page.

The High Hills Have a Bitterness by Ivor Gurney (2)

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“As part of Bristol Poetry Festival 2014, Liberated Words Poetry Film Festival asked for films on the theme of Gloucestershire WWI poet Ivor Gurney’s The High Hills Have a Bitterness, to commemorate the anniversary of the 1914-18 war,” notes the Vimeo description. I posted one of the other submissions, by Othniel Smith, last June. This one is by Helen Dewbery. Animated text, layered images and industrial soundtrack all come together very well. The Liberated Words description continues:

This film brings out the sense of loss: loss of self, the environment and industry. The quarries of the Mendip Hills, many of which are long gone and are now geological sites of Special Scientific Interest, are places to reflect on the ‘soul helpless gone’. The active quarries are used for road construction and other building work. It doesn’t take an expert to realise that they too will one day run out.

Helen is an associate member of the Royal Photographic Society and works in collaboration with poets to produce film poems and collections and images.