Filmmaker: Orla Mc Hardy

Wax Ear by Alice Lyons

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A short poem by Alice Lyons made into a film by Orla Mc Hardy. As with The Polish Language, this appears to have been a collaboration: Lyons is credited with 2-D animation, and Mc Hardy with photography, compositing, computer animation and sound.

The Grass is Greener by Ivor Cutler

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An Orla Mc Hardy film based on a short piece by Scottish poet and radio performer Ivor Cutler — an evocative, dream-like interpretation that takes the poem to a whole new level, I think.

American Haikus (excerpt) by Jack Kerouac

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A brilliant, if much too short, film by Irish artist Orla Mc Hardy.

For audio of Kerouac reading a number of his haiku (which are unusually fine examples of the form, in my opinon), see the six-minute track from the album 100 Great Poems — Classic Poets & Beatnik Freaks which someone has also thoughtfully uploaded to YouTube.

The Polish Language by Alice Lyons

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This is just about the most inventive typographic animation I’ve even seen — a gorgeous and moving tribute to the power of Polish poetry by American-Irish poet and artist Alice Lyons and Irish artist Orla Mc Hardy. The film has its own website at, whence the following description:

The Polish Language is an animated film-poem about the subversive force of art and the renewal of poetry in the whispery language of Polish.

Based on the poem of the same title, the film pays homage to the revitalization of poetry in the Polish language in the 20th century. Using hand-drawn, stop-motion and time-lapse animation techniques, the poem unfolds onscreen, with typography as a key visual element. It visual style is loosely based on underground publications in Poland in the 1970s and 1980s, known as Bibula. A chorus of voices sampling poems in Polish, woven together with original music by sound designer Justin Spooner, combine to create a powerful score in a film of ’emotional depth and technical sophistication’ (Jury, Galway Film Fleadh 2009, award for Best Animation).

The Polish Language is at once a playful and solemn journey into the sensuality, beauty and power of language.

Lyons wrote the poem, while Mc Hardy took the lead on the animation. For full credits and a list of screenings, see the website’s About page. The poets sampled in the soundtrack are Tadeusz Różewicz, Zbigniew Herbert and Wisława Szymborska.