I have Googled the earth and I’m tired of paradise. This city is home. I am its key and broken door.
Coventry-based poet Antony Owen performs his poem in this 2015 film by Adam Steiner (director), Brian Harley (camera and editing) and Alan van Widjgerden (sound), which kicked off a poetry-film project spearheaded by Steiner called Disappear Here. Last year they raised enough money from a crowdfunding campaign to produce a whole series of films exploring the Modernist/Brutalist superstructure of Coventry Ringroad: 27 in all, from nine writers and nine filmmakers. The launch screening is on March 16, and although it’s free, registration is required.
This sounds like a truly commendable use of film to bring the perspectives of poets and artists to bear on pressing local issues (which are also global issues, capitalism being what it is). Here’s a blog post from last year that explains what they hoped to accomplish:
The challenge of Disappear Here is to bring together artists of different stripes, some more experienced practitioners, others up and coming and hungry; native Coventrians and people who might be coming to the city for the first time and seeing it with fresh eyes; expressing the human aspect of what is so commonly seen as an inhuman structure, another one of HRH Charles’ “concrete monstrosities” – by way of contrast, witness the faux-Kensington banality of his ideal housing estate, Poundbury – but it is also fair to say that few near-monolithic concrete structures inspire such intense feelings of love and loathing.
But there is a positivity to the project. As much as it is anything, Coventry Ringroad is an archetype of reinvention. Each time the same A4053 road, but every journey around it different. It is the eye through which Coventry is (notoriously) seen, and can be seen, from above and below; a looping horizon where tarmac sea and brilliant blue sky meet and form a sinew of shuffling perspective. […]
Coventry is an ex-working-class city, chock-full with post-industrial grit from crumbling fire of red brick, after many of its 70s, 80s and 90s industries successively closed down. As such, the city has become an affordable and welcoming haven for artists with a burgeoning community of creative and socially-conscious practitioners – there is a story to be told there. I think the people and the city’s physical attitudes speak to this, guarded but protective. As both defensive wall and encircling stranglehold – the ringroad echoes this taut insularity, but also provides us with a blank canvas for reimagining public space. I think this push/pull reflex makes for an interesting tension as to how we define a city and its search for its centre.