We are disasters
on the edge of our own shores,
dreaming and woken.
about us. If sea can break
so can shore and cliff.
I was delighted to run across this on Vimeo the other day: director Colin Ramsay‘s film for a poem by one of my favorite British poets, George Szirtes. I remembered seeing him post about the filming on Facebook back in August:
Today we film three poems dealing with flood from Mapping the Delta. The poems will be recorded here at lunchtime then we head out to Happisburgh to ascend lighthouses and church towers and possibly to drop dramatically into the sea at an opportune moment of erosion. Where is my Tennysonian cloak when it is needed?
Szirtes also shared the producer’s series of photos from the shoot. Here’s the Vimeo description:
Surge – based on a poem by George Szirtes from his 2016 poetry book Mapping the Delta. Shot on location in Happisburgh, Norfolk, England.
Directed & edited by Colin Ramsay
Produced by James Murray-White
Camera by James Uren
Music – Lost Frontier by Kevin Macleod
Shot on an Ursa 4K mini using Samyang 24mm & 50mm prime lenses, graded in Premiere.
This is Filmpoem 50, a collaboration between Scottish filmpoet Alastair Cook and 20 other poets hailing from Scotland, England, Ireland, the U.S., South Africa and Belgium. I have a rule against posting films containing my own poetry to Moving Poems, but in this case my lines account for only 1/20th of the poem, so I decided not to be precious about it. Besides, it’s too important a poetry film not to feature. The composition process involved Alastair sending each writer a snippet of found film. To quote his original email:
You can be trite, erudite, short or shorter (no more than three or four lines) but the brief is this—Americana, the 1950s, travel.
All the clips are from the same batch of film and the artistic conceit is that a narrative will thread through these. This batch of film has this family move through America over the years, these boys grow up and some of the footage I have is heart-wrenching, always tinged with the salient and sombre fact that I source these from house-clearances, that the death of the filmmaker releases this footage to me.
The official description, from Vimeo and the Filmpoem website, reads:
Watch Alastair Cook’s brand new film, three years in the making, with new writing by twenty of the world’s best poets, sountracked by composer Luca Nasciutia and read by poet Rachel McCrum – screens worldwide from Autumn 2016. New ekphrasis work by poets John Glenday, Vicki Feaver, Stevie Ronnie, Janie McKie, Brian Johnstone, Jo Bell, Andrew Philip, Linda France, Dave Bonta, Angela Readman, Michael Vandebril, Gerard Rudolf, George Szirtes, Emily Dodd, Ian Duhig, Rachel McCrum, Robert Peake, Polly Rowena Atkin, Pippa Little and Vona Groarke.
This was originally planned as Filmpoem 40, but got delayed for a number of reasons, during which I believe the concept changed and matured a bit. I list Alastair as the chief poet here because it was his concept from start to finish, and he edited and moved around the submissions after they all came in. The decision to have a single narrator was, I think, a good one, but it’s amazing how well the conjoined text holds together on its own. Clearly, this is an approach to filmpoetry/videopoetry composition deserving of further experimentation. Alastair had been building on what he learned in making his Twenty Second Filmpoem back in 2012, which also involved 20 poets and some found footage.
In other Filmpoem-related news, I see that there will be a fourth Filmpoem Festival, or series of festivals, dubbed Filmpoem Sixteen, though it doesn’t sound as if we can expect an open call:
Filmpoem Sixteen will focus on a series of invited curated events. The first of these is at the Hauge Centre in Ulvik in Norway, where Alastair is artist in residence in May. Alastair has directed The Sword, a new film working with Hauge’s incredible landscape poetry, alongside readings by John Glenday, cinematography by James Norton and sound by Luca Nasciuti; the film will premier on May 12th. Alongside this new film, the Hauge Centre will screen a Scottih retrospective of Alastair’s work and selected works by others from the Filmpoem Festival submission archive.
Check back for further announcements as our new director Helmie Stil brings her own flavour to Filmpoem.
A poem by George Szirtes, translated into film by the London-based video production company Atticus Finch for a British television series called Poems on the Underground (not to be confused with the long-standing project of the same name that places poems “in tube carriages across London”).