The writer of the poem in this video, Paul Casey, is an important figure for poetry in Ireland, especially in Cork. The poem is named for his home city, which comes from the Irish word for marsh.
Spoken in the video by Aidan Stanley, Marsh is a lament. The poem is unusual in being from the point of view of a place, anthropomorphised with a subjective voice. Paul’s avowed interest in history comes to the fore in this piece, spanning a vast sweep of time, from an ancient untouched land to a contemporary urban location.
Environmental themes shadow the development of the city over its long history, from free earth to “buses and pipes”. Between the poles is first the appearance of humans, with “A Celtic hunter slowing his currach”.* In later generations the human appears in the form of “merchants and markets”. In a time of British rule, “Oil street lamps lit stocks and paupers”. Finally the marsh has transformed into a place where “mobile phones and mini-skirts flirt my name”.
The video is by David Bickley, who is a musician as well as a film-maker. He composed the soundtrack of Marsh especially for it, using audio collected at a marsh in Carrafeen, West Cork, the location of the shoot. These recordings were then mixed with ambient musical sounds. The stunning, almost abstract images of the marsh landscape were shot looking directly down from far above with a drone camera. They are a magnificent yet serene expression of the sense of origins evoked in Paul’s poem.
In an interview about Marsh, Paul states that music is central to his writing, saying “without it there is simply no poem”. The song of this poem is in the voice of a “sagacious witness, persisting across the ages… that wise gentle spirit of sparse words (time)”.
Paul’s advice to poets is to “read a poem every day from a known poet, then another from an unknown poet. And write a poem every day too, no matter how short or ridiculous. Eventually you’ll be equipped for a masterpiece… It’s up to the gods then.”
As a contrast to David Bickley’s beautiful rendering of Marsh, there’s another video of Paul reading it himself in the modern-day incarnation of the city of Cork.
Paul’s great contribution to poetry in Cork includes working with the elderly through poetry appreciation. He is most known to the poetry film community world-wide as the founder and director of Ó Bhéal, organising the yearly poetry film competition in association with the IndieCork Film Festival.
The finalists in this year’s competition have just recently been announced. They include a number of film-makers and poets who might be familiar to Moving Poems followers, such as Stuart Pound and Rosemary Norman, Caroline Rumley, Jack Cochran and Pamela Falkenberg, Charles Olsen, Matt Mullins, Lucy English and Sarah Tremlett, Jane Glennie, Janet Lees, and more.
* A currach is a type of Irish boat with a wooden frame, over which animal skins or hides were once stretched.
This is Qué Palabra, directed by Eduardo Yagüe: a Spanish-language interpretation of Samuel Beckett’s poem “What is the Word” with the original text in subtitles. Jenaro Talens is the translator, and Sergio Cabello the actor. It’s been screened at the 6th International Video Poetry Festival 2018 (Athens) and Festival Silêncio 2017 (Lisbon). I think it’s fair to say that it is very, very Beckettesque. Also, the closing shot is brilliant.
An exemplary spoken-word poetry film directed by Dave Tynan, featuring actors Jordanne Jones and Deirdre Molloy as well as the poet himself, Emmet Kirwan. It was selected for Special Mention this past weekend by the jury of the Weimar Poetry Film Award, on which I was honored to serve along with animator Ebele Okoye and writer Stefan Petermann. Our statement, translated from the German:
What questions can a poetry film take? Perhaps: in what kind of a world do we live? And in what kind of world do we want to live? In a stirring manner, Heartbreak pursues this question. The film by Dave Tynan tells the story of a young, Irish girl who unintentionally gets pregnant and had to raise her son all on her own. At the same time it is the history of a misogynist structured society and this, not only in Ireland, but everywhere in the world. Carried by the passionate, multi-faceted oration of the Spoken- Word poets Emmert Kirwan, an efficient camera and a wise narration Heartbreak plays around the questions of self-determination about own bodies, objectification, sexism and gender roles. The film succeeds in an impressive way, to translate the powerful words into touching images while remaining clear and direct. Tynan and Kirwan know how to arouse empathy, stimulate thoughts concerning a situation, but above all, anger!, yet, looking into the future with confidence. Heartbreak is a feminist poetry film for women and men. Courageous, angry, heartbreaking; an exclamation mark. A film the world must see. C’mere, C’mere, C’mere.
The YouTube description notes that it was “commissioned and developed by THISISPOPBABY as part of RIOT, Winner of Best Production at Dublin Fringe Festival 2016.” To date it has been viewed over 1.3 million times on Facebook and 201,000 times on YouTube, where it has inspired a lively discussion, with the usual #notallmen idiots vastly outnumbered by those resonating with its message.
An intense, affecting videopoem from Irish poets Karl Parkinson (text, voiceover) and Dave Lordan (video), along with musicians Conor O’Connor, Claus Jensen and Charlotte Hamel from The King Mob. Parkinson wrote about the making of the videopoem for The Irish Times. The poem came first, arising from his grief at the death of his nephew Graham from cancer at the age of 21.
Graham was my sister Elaine’s only child, and he grew up living alongside me in the same flat in O’Devaney Gardens, on Dublin’s northside. With him being an only child, and me having no brothers, we formed a very special bond during his short life. After his death, I wanted, as a writer, to create something beautiful and lasting in his memory, and eventually wrote a long elegiac poem about his fight with cancer, and also my own grief for his passing.
He studied the canon, re-reading the great “poem[s] of elegy and mourning, especially from one male on the death of another male.” The resulting poem
was first broadcast on RTÉ’s Arena arts show, on the first anniversary of Graham’s death, and recently published in my collection Butterflies Of A Bad Summer (Salmon Poetry). But I felt that the best way to honour Graham’s memory was to make a video poem, to take it to a larger audience, particularly those in my own community, the Dublin council estates, and inner-city working class, where to be honest poetry books are not big sellers.
The video draws on new technology and on the history of avant-garde cinema/film, especially modernist experiments of the 1920s and ’30s. It’s a 16-minute long piece in which we tried to push the video-poem tradition at least a small bit in the way of serious artistic expression. We hoped to merge the old poetic tradition of elegy and lament with the new and very exciting medium of indie video art, now open to almost any artist in the western world, at a relatively small expense, compared to what it would have cost 20 years ago. I feel, and hope, that we have done justice to Graham’s life, struggle and memory with something that may have a lasting appeal for others that have been affected by cancer, or any other life-stealing disease, or by the loss of someone young and dear to them.