The latest addition to UK poet (and Liberated Words festival co-creator) Lucy English’s Book of Hours project comes from the U.S. artist (and Moving Poems Magazine columnist) Cheryl Gross. Her usual “Dr. Seuss on crack” approach to animation makes a great fit for the poem’s wry take on motherhood, I thought.
Incidentally, I believe that the call for filmmakers to contribute to the project is still open, if anyone’s interested.
A film by Helen Dewbury for poet and poetry-film expert Lucy English‘s Book of Hours project, a “contemporary digital re-imagining of a Book of Hours,” according to English’s (non-public) postings on Facebook. Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon has also made films for the project, and apparently other filmmakers have pledged to contribute as well. Eventually all the films are to be featured on a dedicated website. I’ll be sure to link to it when it goes live.
A film by Helen Dewbery, whose film and video poetry website with poet Chaucer Cameron is the latest addition to the Moving Poems links page: Elephant’s Footprint. Check it out. Dewbury’s bio there suggests why she might’ve been drawn to the imagery of the poem:
I grew up near Kingston Upon Thames and spent time living and working in London where I photographed urban and suburban landscapes and became fascinated by the juxtaposition of the green spaces in London’s Royal Parks, the dark muddy grey-brown waters of the Thames and the rolling chalk downs, flower rich grasslands, acid heaths and ancient woodlands of the Surrey hills.
I then moved to Pembrokeshire where I lived for 17 years spending time travelling through the Pembrokeshire countryside. It was these surroundings that inspired me to engage with the art of photography, drawn by the beautiful wild dramatic landscape with gorse strewn hedgerows, Campion covered coast paths and the moody moor land of the Preseli Mountains. These separate but interrelated landscapes played a significant role in my creative process.
While most of what I categorize as videopoetry here comes about as the result of a filmmaker (who may also be the poet) making a video version of a preexisting text, in this case, filmmaker/musician Swoon (Marc Neys) sent British poet Lucy English a couple of musical prompts and asked her to write a poem in response. The music she chose then became the soundtrack for a videopoem using her reading and some found footage. Swoon blogged about the process, quoting English at length:
Rather than Marc supplying images to an existing poem or me creating a poem in response to images. Marc suggested that I choose a sound track from a few he had chosen. The one I liked sounded mysterious. The tension also built up as the track progressed. I didn’t force the image but what I saw in my mind was a starry sky. I decided to follow my emotional response. The feeling the track created in me was one of wistfulness and sadness.
The previous weekend I had watched the Persieds meteor shower, from a hotel room in Stratford on Avon. This experience, so different from a youthful experience of being outside on a summer’s evening, blended with the soundtrack. What I wanted to write about was how difficult it is to be spontaneous, and indeed naively optimistic, when we are older.
When I was younger I didn’t seem to worry about logistics, such as how was I going to get to a place, or how was I going to get back, I just went somewhere. I also had a baby in my early twenties and I used to take him with me as well.
So the poems is wistful. It is about wanting to feel that carelessness and optimism. It’s about being young and what gets lost when you get older.
I sent the poem to Marc and let him have free range about the images to choose. I liked what he selected. He didn’t focus on the night sky and the meteor shower but instead he used images of children playing in the summer. The repeated sections of film, were to me, like the repetition of memory itself. The summer day and the summer night become blended and the colour changes from yellow to dark blue. His first version was more about the day time and less about the night and I suggested that the final merge into the starry night/ specks of dust could be longer. He agreed with this and now the film ends with this longer sequence.
I find the final result moving. There is a strange tension between the words of the poem and the flickering images. The sound track offers a level of emotional depth to the wistfulness of the poem. This is my first poetry film collaboration and I have found the process inspiring. More!!!
A film by Jon Conway of immprint graphic design, who notes [in a description for a version of the film at Vimeo, subsequently removed]:
The poem, to me is a description of memories of a ‘City.’ As I read I felt as though the poet was conversing directly with me about her experiences. I tried to visualise what I saw, and how the words themselves impacted the poem. By combining colours, imagery, typography and audio spectrums, the piece reacts with the words of the poem, creating new colours, and visuals. I like to think that what the piece looks like is similar to the imagery our mind creates when we listen to a story for the first time.