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.
As well as looking back at past film and television, the Natural Scotland on Screen project also wanted to create something new as a lasting legacy beyond the 2013 Year of Natural Scotland.
Scottish poet and novelist Sophie Cooke was commissioned to write an original poem inspired by film from the Scottish Screen Archive and the themes of the Year of Natural Scotland. Sophie watched many hours of footage, then helped select the final clips that would be edited together in this single short film.
The result was Byland. Sophie hopes the poem – and accompanying film – will help to tell the story of our changing relationship with nature.
Made as a part of my residency in Dunbar, Scotland for North Light. For this film I’ve used John Muir’s words as a starting point: my film is an interpretation and carries these words to a different place. All footage was shot during my time there; the poet John Glenday was kind enough to read a passage from John Muir’s autobiography and composer Luca Nasciuti created a soundtrack which fits like a glove.
Thanks to Creative Scotland.
I was privileged to watch the unveiling of this videopoem last month in Dunbar, immediately following its creation:
Shaking Shells is a Filmpoem Workshop film, made in a period of three hours with five children, the amazing children’s writer and poet Emily Dodd, composer Luca Nasciuti and artist Alastair Cook directing, filming and editing. This is part of the incredible new Filmpoem Festival, which was held at Dunbar Town House on 3rd and 4th August this year.
Emily Dodd goes into much more detail about the process on her blog:
Last month I led a 3-hour Filmpoem workshop with five children aged between five and ten as part of the first UK Filmpoem Festival in Dunbar.
The workshop started with exercises and games to get the children thinking like poets (I wrote a bit about it here). Then we spent the second half of the workshop writing a group poem on a poetry walk.
Each section of the walk involved a different poetry challenge and at the next stop we heard the results of the last challenge and I set the next challenge. For example when you’re walking:
- Explore the wall, touch it, smell it, describe it
- What sounds do you notice? Describe them
- Find your favourite object on the beach, if you find a better one, swap it. Describe it.
Each child worked independently during the challenge but we came together in a circle at the end of each challenge and each contributed one line to the poem.
During the walk artist Alastair Cook was capturing film and composer Luca Nasciuti recorded sounds. When we were down on the beach Donald (5) was in the process of finding his favourite object when he made a discovery….
“I’ve found a sound for the film!” he shouted. He was sitting down with a handful of mussel shells in his hands and he shook them to show me. He tipped his ear towards the shells again to make sure they sounded right. “That’s brilliant Donald” I said. “Let’s show Luca so he can record it” and I called Luca over and Donald shook his shells again.
Do click through and read the rest.
A Westray Prayer by C.J. Hurst
Filmpoem 32/A Westray Prayer by Alastair Cook
One of the highlights of the Filmpoem Festival earlier this month in Dunbar, Scotland, was a screening of five films by five different filmmakers for this same poem, all of them employing the same reading by the author, which they were not allowed to cut up. This meant that each of the filmmakers had to decide how to fill the silence before and after the short text. John Glenday himself attended the screening, reading and introducing his poem, which, he pointed out, is partly about silence. “When we’re silent, we’re letting the world in,” he said, adding: “Silence gets all the best phrases.”
The other two filmmakers who contributed work for the screening, Ian Henderson and James Norton, don’t appear to have uploaded their films to the web, though Norton has shared his audio track at SoundCloud:
The work is based on Glenday’s Uncle Alexander, who was in the D’ Battery 307th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery and died in the Battle of the Sambre on November 4th 1918, the same battle as Wilfred Owen. Glenday’s Grandfather, who was a blacksmith, signed the papers allowing his son to go into the Forces before he was of age.
The footage is used under a Creative Commons licence from archive.org
For more on John Glenday, see the Scottish Poetry Library website.
Stevenson’s dreamy lyrics juxtaposed with footage of a woman restocking a vending machine. Emily Tumbleson notes:
Footage taken on a Canon 7D. Poem by Robert Louis Stevenson from A Child’s Garden of Verses.
I am currently exploring the relationship between desire or aspiration, childhood nostalgia, and social or cultural context.