This is I came from the unknown to sing,
a short film about the Palestinian / Scottish Poet Ghazi Hussein
directed by Roxana Vilk camera Ian Dodds, Edited by Maryam Ghorbankarimi and Sound Design and composition by Peter Vilk
Executive produced by Scottish Poetry Library and United Creations Collective
Camera Ian Dodds
Editing Maryam Ghorbankarimi
Sound design and composition Peter Vilk
additional music by GOL
Hussein recites four poems in the film, two in English and two in Arabic: “Next visit,” “I came from the unknown to sing,” “I am an interesting file” and “To Edinburgh,” all from the book Taking it Like a Man: Torture and Survival a Journey in Poetry.
This is a great example of how a good soundtrack (here, the work of Luca Nasciuti, with voiceover by Alastair Cook) can really make a poetry film work. It’s from a new-to-me-project:
The fitba, the teams, the love for the game. Nicknames was written by William Richardson, read by Alastair Cook and filmed by Jane Groves. Nicknames was made as part of Luminate Festival’s Well Versed project. Workshops with Craigshill Good Neighbour Network were led by poet Rachel McCrum and filmmaker Alastair Cook. Nicknames was edited by Alastair Cook.
Scotland’s creative ageing festival, is held from 1st to 31st October across Scotland each year. The festival brings together older people and those from across the generations to celebrate our creativity as we age, share stories of ageing and explore what growing older means to all of us. Each year, there are activities all over Scotland – from art workshops and dance classes to music performances and authors’ events – and you will find Luminate in theatres, galleries, community halls, care homes and lunch clubs, as well as events online that take us to audiences everywhere.
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.
In the build-up to last weekend’s Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, sports pundits were talking about the decline of boxing, eclipsed (at least in the states) by MMA. But this filmpoem by Alastair Cook and poet Ross Wilson suggests that boxing is far from dead. The description at the Filmpoem website reads, in part:
Written and read by boxer and poet Ross Wilson, this is a heartfelt dedication to Alex ‘Spangles’ Hunter. Filmed and recorded in the Greenock Boxing Club, this film forms part of Alastair Cook’s work In Order to Win, You Must Expect to Win.
Alastair writes: “What began as a yearlong residency centred on the Scottish port town of Greenock has developed into a longer photographic investigation of this place and its people. One element of this is a series made with Greenock Boxing Club. Led by Danny Lee, who boxed at the 1960 Olympics with Muhammad Ali, and his inspirational son Danny Lee, the club is based in a Salvation Army church in Cartsdyke. Like much of post-industrial Britain, Cartsdyke is an area with difficult statistics on drugs, crime and mortality. With this work I want to tell the story of these boxers, the families who live here, struggle here, rejoice here.”
Filmpoem director Alastair Cook invited Makar Liz Lochhead, the National Poet of Scotland, to read three of Robert Burns’s poems and together with Italian composer Luca Nasciuti they have created three beautiful interpretations of some of Burns’s most loved works: I Murder Hate, Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation and A Man’s a Man for a’ That.
Scottish poet and novelist Jim Murdoch recently had three poems added to The Poetry Storehouse, and remixers (including Murdoch himself) have taken to them with enthusiasm. I don’t generally care for poems about poetry, but the self-reflexive nature of “As Is” poses an intriguing challenge to filmmakers. Marie Craven was the first to make a video for this poem, and I rather liked her simple text animation. Then Lori H. Ersolmaz made this video, which blows me away. The moments of darkness between lines (read by Nic S.) is reminiscent of a trailer for a blockbuster movie, and the taut, rhythmic correspondence of (mostly) abstract images to words, combined with the dramatic soundtrack, added to that impression. Poetry is an edge-of-your-seat adventure, this film suggests. Well, I’ve always thought so.