Isle of Man-based poet and artist Janet Lees has long been an important figure in the international poetry film scene, often collaborating with Terry Rooney, but recently she’s been experiencing a creative surge, she told me, and one only needs to visit her Vimeo page to see the evidence: a number of new, generally very short films that showcase her range of interests and stylistic approaches. One constant in her work is the preference for text-on-screen. She also often deploys just a single shot, which works because—as I’ve come to learn by following her on Instagram—she has a terrific eye. Her one-line description on IG: “everything is poetry”.
Janet Lees‘ latest poetry film: “Written & filmed by Janet Lees. Music – ‘Scriptures’ by Post War Stories. Edited by Glenn Whorrall.”
The music plays an unusually prominent role, but I found the interplay between the lyrics and Janet’s text on the screen intriguing. And because the music was so much a feature, the slow-motion single shot felt almost like an ironic commentary on the fast cuts and frenetic camerawork that characterize so many music videos.
“Written & filmed by Janet Lees. Edited by Glenn Whorrall.” Thus the Vimeo description. But there’s much more information on the British poet and artist (plus her regular partner in videopoetry collaborations, Terry Rooney) in the new “Swoon’s View” column up at Moving Poems Magazine. Marc Neys describes their films as “short and sharp as a razor … a breath of fresh air in these times of cultural abundance and profusion of advertising.” And Lees provides some background on each of the four films Neys has selected. About this one, she writes:
‘The hours of darkness’ features footage of flamingos that I took in a wildlife park in the middle of winter. I found the sight of the flamingos in this big gloomy shed electrifying – there was something both prehistoric and post-apocalyptic about it. In my mind, I knew there was only one poem for this film – ‘The hours of darkness’, which I’d written about a year before, inspired by the anodyne yet always to my ear potentially sinister messages contained within in-flight announcements and other forms of mass communication. Here, the repeated phrase ‘May we remind you’ assumes an increasingly dark, Orwellian tone.
Go read the rest (and check out the other three films).