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.
Marc is a composer/video artist from Belgium and is one of the leading and most prolific figures in modern videopoetry. That makes it a particular privilege that Offering was made for the launch of this site.
My great grandfather Wilbye survived the Somme. His brother Harry was killed in Belgium. My dad still has Wilbye’s signet ring on his finger. WW1 – and the Battle of the Somme – have always loomed large in my mind. The history. The poetry. My own family connection. The horror and carnage of it. The pointlessness. This film was my way of trying to connect with those experiences, and Paul Muldoon’s insightful and compassionate poem left us with the relatively simple task of creating space for it to sink in. These days, the Somme area is a banal agricultural backwater, but the landscapes still feel haunted by the atmosphere of what happened there. I recce-ed the locations with my dad, and my sister produced the film, so it’s really been a family affair, and I’m very proud of it.
The voiceover is by Lloyd Hutchinson and the sound by Jake Ashwell; click through for the full credits. The film was commissioned by 14-18 NOW, Norfolk and Norwich Festival and Writers Centre Norwich as part of the Fierce Light project.
A great feature on Irish haikujin Gabriel Rosenstock from the arts and culture TV program Imeall, produced by Red Shoe Productions. The English translations of the interview and haiku are excellent, which is no surprise: Rosenstock is a prolific translator and author, and his poetry blog is gloriously multilingual.
This is Filmpoem 50, a collaboration between Scottish filmpoet Alastair Cook and 20 other poets hailing from Scotland, England, Ireland, the U.S., South Africa and Belgium. I have a rule against posting films containing my own poetry to Moving Poems, but in this case my lines account for only 1/20th of the poem, so I decided not to be precious about it. Besides, it’s too important a poetry film not to feature. The composition process involved Alastair sending each writer a snippet of found film. To quote his original email:
You can be trite, erudite, short or shorter (no more than three or four lines) but the brief is this—Americana, the 1950s, travel.
All the clips are from the same batch of film and the artistic conceit is that a narrative will thread through these. This batch of film has this family move through America over the years, these boys grow up and some of the footage I have is heart-wrenching, always tinged with the salient and sombre fact that I source these from house-clearances, that the death of the filmmaker releases this footage to me.
The official description, from Vimeo and the Filmpoem website, reads:
Watch Alastair Cook’s brand new film, three years in the making, with new writing by twenty of the world’s best poets, sountracked by composer Luca Nasciutia and read by poet Rachel McCrum – screens worldwide from Autumn 2016. New ekphrasis work by poets John Glenday, Vicki Feaver, Stevie Ronnie, Janie McKie, Brian Johnstone, Jo Bell, Andrew Philip, Linda France, Dave Bonta, Angela Readman, Michael Vandebril, Gerard Rudolf, George Szirtes, Emily Dodd, Ian Duhig, Rachel McCrum, Robert Peake, Polly Rowena Atkin, Pippa Little and Vona Groarke.
This was originally planned as Filmpoem 40, but got delayed for a number of reasons, during which I believe the concept changed and matured a bit. I list Alastair as the chief poet here because it was his concept from start to finish, and he edited and moved around the submissions after they all came in. The decision to have a single narrator was, I think, a good one, but it’s amazing how well the conjoined text holds together on its own. Clearly, this is an approach to filmpoetry/videopoetry composition deserving of further experimentation. Alastair had been building on what he learned in making his Twenty Second Filmpoem back in 2012, which also involved 20 poets and some found footage.
In other Filmpoem-related news, I see that there will be a fourth Filmpoem Festival, or series of festivals, dubbed Filmpoem Sixteen, though it doesn’t sound as if we can expect an open call:
Filmpoem Sixteen will focus on a series of invited curated events. The first of these is at the Hauge Centre in Ulvik in Norway, where Alastair is artist in residence in May. Alastair has directed The Sword, a new film working with Hauge’s incredible landscape poetry, alongside readings by John Glenday, cinematography by James Norton and sound by Luca Nasciuti; the film will premier on May 12th. Alongside this new film, the Hauge Centre will screen a Scottih retrospective of Alastair’s work and selected works by others from the Filmpoem Festival submission archive.
Check back for further announcements as our new director Helmie Stil brings her own flavour to Filmpoem.
This is my poem film Red Line Haiku which was commissioned by South Dublin Libraries as part of the Red Line Book Festival 2015. The film was shown at the Civic Theatre Tallaght on Wednesday 14th October and Thursday 15th October as part of the festival.
The film maker was Bao Zhu, a student at Ballyfermot College of Further Education and we filmed in September 2015. My thanks to Bao who did a excellent job!
Shots of, or taken from, moving trains are a staple in poetry film, but seldom is the text focused on the train (or in this case tram) itself. The Red Line is one of two lines in Dublin’s light rail system, running “in an east-west direction through the city centre, north of the River Liffey, before and travelling southwest to Tallaght, with a fork to Citywest and Saggart,” according to the Wikipedia.
Literary festivals commissioning poetry films is a great trend, if it is a trend yet. I hope so! I’m running across more and more instances of it.
“7 Painters is a film composition I made for 7 ekphrastic haiku by Gabriel Rosenstock,” writes Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon, noting that it’s his second collaboration with the poet after Farrera earlier this year. Click through for texts (including the original Irish), stills, audio, and additional process notes.
Making poetry films and videopoems with texts originally sparked by other works of art presents the filmmaker with a bit of a conundrum: whether to suggest or include those art works, and if so, how? Here, Swoon seems to be responding purely to the words. But this works, I think, because the link between text and footage remains oblique enough that we might be watching what the painter, too, saw before taking up the brush.