Nationality: Wales

Song of the Soil by Jessica Mookherjee

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Jessica Mookherjee‘s poem “Song of the Soil”, from her collection, Tigress (Nine Arches Press, 2019), is given heartfelt filmic treatment by Helen Dewbery and Chaucer Cameron, under the auspices of their production house, Elephant’s Footprint. According to the book’s webpage,

Jess Mookherjee is of Bengali heritage and grew up in Swansea. She has been widely published in magazines, including Under the Radar, Agenda, The North, Rialto, Antiphon and Ink, Sweat & Tears. She is author of The Swell (Telltale Press) and Joyride (Black Light Engine Room Press) and Flood (Cultured Llama). She was highly commended in the Forward Prize 2017 for best single poem. Jessica works in Public Health and lives in Kent.

The poem expresses a deep connection to the Earth in an elegy of lost origins and disappearing ground. Giving further voice to these themes, the film is imbued with overexposed images of a natural world scorched yellow and burnt brown, and a soundtrack made ominous by ambient bass. Mookherjee’s solemn, rich narration rounds the elements of this powerfully organic piece.

The film is part of a series Helen and Chaucer have been doing for Nine Arches Press. They note that “The film-poems are not only viewed by Nine Arches’ existing readers and online audiences, but are a tool for their poets to engage more easily with their existing and new audiences.” The press, however, does not appear to embed any of the videos on the books’ pages, which is kind of baffling.

Leisure by W. H. Davies

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UK director A D Cooper‘s short for the Visible Poetry Project adapts a poem by the early 20th-century Welsh “supertramp” W. H. Davies. I had the pleasure of seeing the film, and meeting the director, last Saturday at a special curation of VPP films at London’s Poetry Cafe. Cooper said her decision to film in London, rather than in some more pastoral setting as the text might seem to suggest, was driven in part by filming logistics and in part by the desire to avoid naive illustration, and that some of the shots were unplanned and serendipitous. I told her it really worked for me, both as a tourist in London and as a country person in cities generally, where I often wonder why no one else seems inclined to pause and gawk at the amazing surroundings. So for me, the text and the video seem tailor-made for each other.

For full credits, stills, and other information about the film, see its page on the Hurcheon Films website.

And Death Shall Hall No Dominion (excerpt) by Dylan Thomas

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This is Aum Shinrikyo, directed by Noah Conopask. On Vimeo, he describes how he came to make it:

On a recent shoot in Tokyo I was incredibly inspired by Japan and everything I was seeing around me visually. The streets, the people and the fashion. I learned about a doomsday cult called Aum Shinrikyo (Japanese オウム真理教) that let off deadly sarin nerve gas in Tokyo’s subway system 20 years ago. The attack was the worst in modern Japanese history. It made me think of Dylan Thomas poems about life and death. It was something I wanted to bring to life cinematically. I had a vision of a few of the cult members walking around Tokyo. Staking out the attack, the way thieves would a bank heist.

Poem: ‘And Death Shall Hall No Dominion’ Excerpt by Dylan Thomas
Directed by: Noah Conopask
Production Company: The Sweet Shop
Cinematography: Garrett Hardy Davis
Edit: James Dierx at Whitehouse Post
Music: Traces
Voice Over: Vivian
Color: Seth Ricart at RCO
Producer: Larissa Tiffin
Talent: KO3UKE Onishi, Kenji Araki, Percy

Haunting by Martin Evans

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An author-made videopoem from Welsh writer and humorist Martin Evans, whose work was brought to my attention by the inclusion of another of his videos, “Numbers“, in the latest issue of Poetry Film Live. He describes this one as

A film-poem to revisit a childhood haunt. Filmed on Whixall, Bettisfield and Fenns mosses on the Welsh/English border.

Scratch the pastoral surface of the countryside nearly anywhere and you’ll find similar stories of violence and loss. A beautifully done evocation.

Black Hands by Robert Minhinnick

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From the Welsh environmental campaigner, essayist and poet Robert Minhinnick comes this searing example of what might be called photojournalistic poetry film, as the Vimeo description explains:

A poem by Robert Minhinnick illustrated with unique footage taken during his visit to Iraq. Visiting the notorious Amiriya bunker. Harrowing, moving and dark.

Peter Thorp edited, and the audio samples and loops were created by Peter Morgan. The film was produced (by Sonicsustain and Subjective Realities) in 2005, but refers to a horrific incident from the earlier Gulf War of 1991 — and a propaganda line about “smart bombs” that also debuted during that earlier invasion, and which went largely unchallenged by mainstream journalists in the US and UK. In fairness to them, it was difficult to gain accurate information because of the way the Pentagon severely restricted the movements of journalists on the ground, part of an ultimately successful attempt to mute public opposition to military aggression which would later find full expression during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when it was formalized under the Orwellian label embedded journalism. Reporters who refused to cooperate with the Pentagon were targeted by US missiles and tank fire. Given how dangerous the whole region has now become for journalists, and how mendacious the official justifications for warfare have always been, our need for the prophetic witness of poets is greater than ever.

Millionaire by Mab Jones

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This animation by Lauren Orme and Jordan Brookes is described by the poet, Mab Jones, as

A poem about love, in the form of a list.
Dedicated to (about) the poet Johnny Giles.

The film has just taken top honors at the 2015 Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival, winning for Best Animation, Best Valentine, and Best Overall Production. It was also shortlisted in the Southbank Centre’s Shot Through The Heart poetry film competition in 2014.

Map of the Underground by Ifor ap Glyn

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A terrific animated film from 2005 directed by Hywel Griffith of Griffilms Animation Studio, featuring a poem by Ifor ap Glyn, two-time winner of the National Eisteddfod of Wales. Music and dub are by Meilyr Tomos.