Nationality: U.K.

Dear Alison by Helen Mort

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Chris Prescott of Dark Sky Media (“specialists in adventure film production”) directed this short, documentary-style poetry film featuring Helen Mort as poet and climber. The Vimeo description:

‘Dear Alison’ is a poem featured in the anthology No Map Could Show Them by critically acclaimed poet Helen Mort – a collection of poems centring on women making their mark and forging their own paths throughout history, both in the wilderness and in modern urban life. ‘Dear Alison’ is a personal tribute written by Helen to the late British mountaineer Alison Hargreaves – a mother, a wife and a talented climber who faced criticism due to her risk taking and her decision to continue climbing as a young mother, before her untimely death on K2 in 1995. The short film Dear Alison by Dark Sky Media and UKClimbing.com is a visual recreation of Helen’s words with imagery and sounds which evoke the poet’s emotional connection to Alison.

The film is currently featured on the front page of Liberated Words, where the accompanying, unsigned essay calls Dear Alison “a metanarrative on the process of writing: of the struggle of putting one word after another; of literally conceiving poetry, line by line.”

With the topic of non-metaphorical poetry films still echoing in our minds we also might consider this particular work as riven with metaphorical seams (rock metaphors to discuss metaphor notwithstanding). Throughout ‘Dear Alison’ close-up shots of Helen’s hand writing the poem punctuate the film and at the end she draws a firm but balanced line under the last word. We might think of this as jointly associative for both climber and poet: the metaphorical horizontal evocation of the joyous release from the vertical ropes and carabiners that stop a climber’s fall; or equally, the poet’s release from language, deliberately letting the line go; the summit having been reached. However, the analogy between mountaineering and writing ends there: the poet displays their roped words, carabinered like woven lace; the mountaineer hauls in their rope erasing all traces of the climb.

Read the rest.

Poem on Prayer by Tolu Agbelusi

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I see a lot of religious poetry videos on Vimeo and YouTube, and most of them, it has to be said, are pretty godawful. Not this one! Filmmaker Toby Lewis Thomas and poet Tolu Agbelusi really raise the bar for poetry films of Christian witness in this video uploaded a week ago by the London Diocese, who note:

On 3 June, we hosted a beacon event at St Paul’s Cathedral as part of the global wave of prayer “Thy Kingdom Come”. Tolu Agbelusi, a Nigerian British poet, playwright, facilitator and lawyer, wrote a poem on prayer commissioned specially for the event.

Tolu worships at St Luke’s Kentish Town and her father is Vicar at Christ Church, Crouch End.

The film was made in London by Toby Lewis-Thomas who is part of St John at Hackney church, with the support of Christian Vision.

The Last Days by Lucy English

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The latest addition to the Book of Hours, Lucy English’s multi-filmmaker collaborative poetry film project, is by Marie Craven, who used footage from the 1942 documentary A Child Went Forth and music by Kevin MacLeod. The close fit of text to images paves the way for an especially affecting zinger of a last line.

Incidentally, I gather from Facebook that Lucy is still looking for collaborators. Get in touch with her if you’re interested.

Hate for Sale by Neil Gaiman

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Buy my hate. You’ll come right back for more.
Hate for sale. Enough to start a war.
Hate the rich, the brown, the black, the poor.
Hate is clean. And hate will make you sure.

The Visible Poetry Project‘s final video for National Poetry Month was a real corker: a topical, satirical poem by the great Neil Gaiman recited by Peter Kenny in the soundtrack for a beautifully done stop-motion animation by Anna Eijsbouts.

The Shrouding of the Duchess of Malfi by John Webster

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Filmmaker Devansh Agarwal and singer-songwriter Sonali Argade collaborated on a music video-like poetry film of John Webster’s 17th-century poem for the Visible Poetry Project. Argade is also the actress. Her musical interpretation appears to be a cover of the 1924 Peter Warlock composition, from his 3 Dirges of Webster, now in the public domain. Here’s a more standard performance by the Baccholian Singers of London:

Coventry Glossolalia by Martin Green

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An experimental videopoem from Martin Green (text, voiceover) and filmmaker Emily Wright, one of the 27 poetry films produced for the Disappear Here project focused on the ringroad around Coventry, UK. Every week another three films appear on the project blog, together with biographies of those involved. This was my favorite of the three films by Green and Wright featured on April 2; I thought that the recitation of vehicle registration plate codes as if they were text gained a peculiar pathos from the conjunction with a stained-glass-like video collage of the ringroad map.

Wright’s bio states that “Brutalist architecture is a strong inspiration for her work as she is interested in drawing attention to anything unpopular and unloved.” And Green is described as more of an artist than a poet, whose “work explores joining sculpture, writing and performance together.” (This is especially evident in “T“.) Read — and watch — the rest.

Upon My Skin by Axel Kacoutié

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British composer Axel Kacoutié‘s Poe-like text is brilliantly interpreted in this film-poem, produced by Kacoutié and directed by Émile. The YouTube description reads:

Please do not touch the paintings or other exhibits, and do not cross barriers.

It was featured in the London-based “online multimedia platform” Skin Deep on March 17. Here’s what they said about it:

Axel Kacoutié’s film-poem, Upon My Skin, is an electrifying meditation on performance, desire and the ways in which art is consumed. Inspired in part by Władysław Podkowiński’s [Vadeh-swav Pod-ko-vin-ski] painting Frenzy of Exultations, the video does away with the idea of art as the consumption of objects. Instead, art is conceived of as a disorienting experience that moves beyond the confines of the gallery space and into the world, blurring the distinction between art product and reality.

Axel explains: There is a helpless mood of sometimes not knowing what you’re looking at when you are in a gallery, but that wasn’t the case for ‘Axelina’ [Aderonke Oke]. Her confident stillness and her disregard for what is happening in the room makes it so that the observer becomes the observed; we become more interested in how she perceives the audience, rather than how the audience perceives her.  We cut to see ‘Her’ [Ally Goldberg] now clothed and free in a real world full of life.

Upon My Skin is otherworldly. It creates a world that is ethereal and ready to disappear at any moment, making Axel’s poetry the only thing that grounds us in corporeal reality. Although Axel explains that his ambitions are still exclusively musical, there can be doubt that the immersive sonic experience that Axel has created is made that much more poignant by the accompanying words. Upon My Skin is a mystifying video that is so obviously about black and white, but in a way that is unexpected. [link added]

A more recent interview in MASQ Magazine goes into detail about the production of the film and Kacoutié’s influences and aesthetic preferences: “Dark Horses and Desire.”