Nationality: Scotland

Twenty Second Filmpoem: 20 poets, 20 seconds each

Alastair Cook‘s 22nd filmpoem is both playful and profound, a lovely demonstration of the magic that can happen when poets write ekphrastically in response to film clips.

Twenty Second Filmpoem (the 22nd Filmpoem) is twenty 20 second Filmpoems; it was conceived when I was asked to do a pecha-kucha.org night. An interesting concept, you present 20 slides for 20 seconds; I thought I’d do something a little different, actually create some work for the event. I commissioned 20 writers, all listed below, to write flash fiction against some 1960s found footage I’d edited. It’s ambitious and inevitably some bits work much better than others, but for me it is imperative to push this a little, to leave my comfort zone. And invariable, all the writing is superb, and for that I am thankful.

I also took the opportunity of using Vladimir Kryutchev’s binaural field recordings, for which I thank him. His amazing binaural map of Sergiyev Posad in Russia is here: oontz.ru/en

See the rest of the description on Vimeo to read all 20 short poems. The poets are: Andrew McCallum Crawford, Mary McDonough Clark, Al Innes, Guinevere Glasfurd-Brown, Elspeth Murray, Janette Ayachi, Jane McCance, Donna Campbell, Ewan Morrison, Angela Readman, Gérard Rudolf, Zoe Venditozzi, Jo Bell, Sally Evans, Pippa Little, Tony Williams, Robert Peake, Stevie Ronnie, Sheree Mack and Emily Dodd. Dodd blogged about her part in the production. A couple of excerpts:

I received a link with a password for my film, it was number twenty (password twenty). The film was 1960s found footage and it was beautiful. Alastair had edited it to tell a 1 minute story.

I watched a woman in a white dress on her wedding day. She kept looking at the Best Man. I wrote my initial thoughts down and came back to watch it again, two days later.

My brief was to respond with a piece of flash fiction that could be read aloud within 10 seconds. Alastair wanted it to be short, two or three lines maximum, he said just a haiku in length.

[…]

When I was first commissioned I’d thought along the same lines as the bride… is this really me?

  • What if I watch the film and have no emotional response?
  • What if I can’t do flash fiction?
  • What if my piece ruins the whole presentation?

And all of this ran through my head while waiting for a response from Alastair.

Thankfully, I had this reply within a couple of minutes:
No it’s bloody perfect x Baci x

Better Days by Kevin Cadwallender

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I’ve been reading interviews collected around the U.S. during the Great Depression by the Federal Writer’s Project, and this poem perfectly captures my reaction to that heritage of hard times and lives cut short by poverty and dangerous work. This is Alastair Cook‘s 19th filmpoem, with a sound composition by Mark Walters.

Leper Window, St Mary the Virgin by Jane McKie

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Alastair Cook’s 18th filmpoem incorporates a text by Scottish poet Jane McKie which “won the inaugural Edwin Morgan International Poetry Competition in 2011 and was praised by the judges as ‘spare, musical and wonderfully imagined,'” Alastair tells us. Luca Nasciuti was the composer.

Visiting the Dunbrody Famine Ship by Elizabeth Rimmer

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This is Alastair Cook’s 17th filmpoem, and bears the title of the collection of poetry whence the poem comes: Wherever We Live Now, by British poet Elizabeth Rimmer. Alastair writes,

This film came while I was concentrating on two other films, which will be part of my solo film, photography and glass show How the Land Lies in Edinburgh this spring.

This is also a farewell to Kodak, of sorts, as there’ll never really be a goodbye embrace- entirely made from Kodachrome Super8, wildly out of date. And a homage to my solace, Portobello.

Thanks to Erstlaub for the sound design, a drone star.

Slow Wave Through The City by Jacq Kelly

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The latest filmpoem from Alastair Cook, who describes it on Vimeo as follows:

Slow Wave Through The City is a poem by Jacq Kelly, published by Colin Herd this year. It crossed my path digitally and I watched the film in my head as I read, my adopted city of Edinburgh speeding by.

Jacq lives in Edinburgh but dreams of moving to Sweden and becoming a viking. Until this happens, she spends her time writing poetry, fiction and trying to make a difference in politics as a campaigner.

Slow Wave Through the City was filmed in Edinburgh on 8mm film in Summer 2011 on a long walk with the poet; it was shot using Ektachrome Super8, processed in Kansas by Dwaynes.

By way of a coda, this is a first, a Scottish Filmpoem. Looking through all 15 films, this is the only one which has only Scots contributors for the film, narrative and music. This was not deliberate, but is fitting, since it’s devoted to Edinburgh.

Ground by Alastair Cook

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I’ve shared a lot of filmpoems here made by the Scottish artist and filmmaker Alastair Cook, but this one’s the work of someone else: Ginnetta Correli directed and edited this film using Alastair’s reading of some haiku he wrote for a multi-author linked verse sequence. He blogged about the film:

I don’t write terribly much (as you may have noted) and am perhaps unnecessarily precious about what I do write (see Abachan, for instance) and am pleased to see what such a wonderful, dark filmmaker can make of my words. Filmpoem is filmpoemed!

This was featured in VidPoFilm a few weeks ago.

Ground has an impenetrable quality. The film imagery, poem and reading approach each other without quite meeting. In that circle of visual and verbal imagery and the emotion of the voice of the reader, we witness a flame dancing without knowing who lit it, who blows on it, or why it goes out, if it does.

Something profound happens. But what? Is the poem notes on death and what resurrects us through life? Or the dream of a life?

Read the rest.

Foreign Lands by Robert Louis Stevenson

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Update: this video is no longer online.

This seemed like a fitting follow-up to yesterday’s Ruben Dario videopoem. Ilsa Misamore made the animation, with cut-paper sculptures by Helen Musselwhite.

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