Nationality: U.K.

Semechki (Семечки) by Eta Dahlia

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Be sure to click the CC icon for English subtitles.

A fascinating collaboration between Russian poet and filmmaker Eta Dahlia and UK poet and artist Iris Colomb. It grew out of a residency at the Center for Recent Drawing, one of “a series of experimental translations of Eta Dahlia’s minimalist Russian poems into gestural drawings,” Colomb writes, which were

entirely process-led. I made use of my limited knowledge of Russian, allowing me to experience the poems phonetically without semantic bias. Translating the poems’ sounds into gestures became the basis of my systemic approach.

I listened to each poem repeatedly for an hour, interpreting each sound as a separate movement tracing a line. Throughout this process my repetitive gestural sequences produced an increasingly intricate network of lines, generating a tightly layered shape. My movements evolved with each iteration, the drawing itself exposing their range.

The resulting compositions became complex maps of my changing perception; areas and textures displaying different levels of conviction and doubt, making these drawings both translations and documents of performance.

The video was featured in 3:AM Magazine last September as part of their Duos series.

Aftermath by Siegfried Sassoon

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Layla Atkinson directed this vivid animation of a poem by Siegfried Sassoon that insists on the importance of remembering the horrors of war in peacetime. The animators are Marie-Margaux Tsakiri-Scanatovits, John Harmer, Rok Predin, Jocie Juritz, Jacob Read, and Clelia Leroux; see Vimeo for the rest of the credits. The Trunk Animation Production Company website provides detailed production notes. Here’s the middle part:

Being that the poem obviously has a dark subject matter, we wanted to find a balance so that an audience would be able to enjoy the film, relate, and hopefully retain Sassoon’s warning, without being either too harrowing, or too warm.

We worked with the amazing Julian Rhind-Tutt on the voiceover, and he played with the delivery of different lines to help ground each scene in a reality.
The visual narrative has a cyclical structure that as we progress, slowly erases reality as memories take over, only for our main character to make a firm decision to regain control and pull themselves back into the here and now.

The poem was written in 1919, and we took influence from cubism, in so much as we wanted to tell multiple stories and ideas at once from different viewpoints. Layla also approached the overall look and feel using a mixture of different textures and materials to build up visual layers.

Read the rest.

The Opened Field by Dom Bury

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Devon-based poet Dom Bury‘s poem won the 2017 National Poetry Competition sponsored by the UK Poetry Society, and the judges said:

The darkly allegoric winning poem surrounds six boys in a field enacting a disturbing coming-of-age ritual, and is told with a driving rhythm and mantra-like repetitions. The poem interrogates themes of unchecked masculinity, exploring our destructive relationship with each other and with the natural world. The barbaric impulses enacted are interwoven to offer us a sombre and precisely wrought ecological and social fable for our times.

This film interpretation by Helmie Stil takes, perhaps unavoidably, a somewhat illustrative tack while remaining suggestive and allusive in all the right ways, so that the poem doesn’t feel pinned down, as it easily could have felt with a more conventional approach.

The Smell of Mist by Lucy English

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A wonderfully multilayered poetry film by Stevie Ronnie for Lucy English‘s Book of Hours. His process notes on Vimeo are worth quoting in full:

This is the second of two films that I have made in collaboration with the poet Lucy English as part of her Book of Hours poetry film project (thebookofhours.org). As in our first collaboration, this poetry film began as a colour palette that I generated and sent to Lucy. Lucy wrote in response to the palette and sent me back the text and a voice recording of the poem.

I had some footage sitting waiting, so I got to work straight away. I wasn’t happy with the way the words and the film were rubbing against each other so I cleared the decks and went back to the poem. I listened to the recording over several months, trying to slip under the surface of the words. The poem began to play over and over in my head.

One morning over the summer I lay in bed listening to Odette, my eldest daughter, practicing the piano. As she played, the poem was also playing in my head and I was taken by how the two seemed to fit together. I recorded Odette and combined that recording with Lucy’s voice. This audio track then provided the spark of an idea, which in turn led to new raw footage. By the time I sat down to draw the images and the audio track together it felt as if I knew exactly what I had to do.

The most fruitful collaborations always seem to involve an element of serendipity, don’t they?

seed by Asim Khan

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One of a series of videopoetry collaborations between the UK poet Asim Khan and video artist and experimental animator David C. Montgomery. Watch the others at Asim’s Vimeo page. The soundtrack on this one is courtesy of Maja Jantar (voice) and Kristof Lauwers (electronics).

Ambulance ballet by Janet Lees

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Isle of Man-based poet and artist Janet Lees has long been an important figure in the international poetry film scene, often collaborating with Terry Rooney, but recently she’s been experiencing a creative surge, she told me, and one only needs to visit her Vimeo page to see the evidence: a number of new, generally very short films that showcase her range of interests and stylistic approaches. One constant in her work is the preference for text-on-screen. She also often deploys just a single shot, which works because—as I’ve come to learn by following her on Instagram—she has a terrific eye. Her one-line description on IG: “everything is poetry”.

The worst thing by far by Janet Lees

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Janet Lees‘ latest poetry film: “Written & filmed by Janet Lees. Music – ‘Scriptures’ by Post War Stories. Edited by Glenn Whorrall.”

The music plays an unusually prominent role, but I found the interplay between the lyrics and Janet’s text on the screen intriguing. And because the music was so much a feature, the slow-motion single shot felt almost like an ironic commentary on the fast cuts and frenetic camerawork that characterize so many music videos.