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 filmpoem by Swoon (Marc Neys) incorporating 11 poems by 11 different Belgian writers, telling a single story of life, lust, love and loss. The poems range in style from experimental to formal verse, all ably translated by Willem Groenewegen. I had the pleasure of seeing this at ZEBRA with an introduction by the filmmaker, having first viewed it online more than a year ago when Marc briefly made it public. It’s now been fully released to the web after nearly two years of festival screenings.
I don’t know if there is ever an ideal day of the week to post a 20-minute poetry video, but website visitor stats do suggest that Monday is a big day for procrastination on the job. So grab a beverage, put on your headphones and hit the play button. What better way to ease into the week than with a surreal poetry film to alter your consciousness?
Here are the poems that make up the film:
The poems were recorded by three well-known Flemish actors: Vic De Wachter (poems 1, 6, 7, 8), Michaël Pas (poems 2, 4, 10, 11) and Karlijn Sileghem (poems 3, 5, 9). The actors are Katrijn Clemer, Mathieu Courtois, and Rommel the cat. (“Rommel” means “clutter” in Dutch; it has nothing to do with the Nazi general.) The music is by Hanklebury, Lunova Labs, and Swoon. Click through to Vimeo for the rest of the credits, not to mention the extensive list of screenings.
A film by Dutch photographer and filmmaker Judith Dekker with words by Belgian poet Michaël Vandebril. The English translation for this version of the film is by Will Stone; there’s also a version without any text in the soundtrack at all, which Vandebril uses for live performances. The poem appears in his book Het Vertrek van Maeterlinck.
This was Dekker’s very first filmpoem, and it won the 2013 Filmpoem Festival Prize in Dunbar, Scotland.
Casina Rossa is the name of the house in Rome where John Keats died.
This poem was part of BOEST back in autumn 2009,
a dynamic poetry project with nine poets: Antoine Boute, Andy Fierens, Jess De Gruyter, Els Moors, Mauro Pawlowski, Xavier Roelens, Michael Vandebril, Christophe Vekeman and Stijn Vranken … a poet show on the road from Antwerp to The Hague, with the sound of gluemaster Carlo Andriani and visuals of Jess De Gruyter. Director: Charles and Max Temmerman Clemminck … a book, an anthology of new work by nine poets … [and] a vinyl record.
(auto-translation from the Dutch by Google)
The same website also includes a bio of Vandebril:
Michael Vandebril (1972): Lawyer by training. Debuted in 1998 as a poet in the poetry & straight jazz tradition of the beat poets. In 2000, he founded the collective Le Tigre Unick with literary events which he organized in Antwerp and Amsterdam. At the end of 2002 he was appointed coordinator of Antwerp Book City, and Antwerp earned the title of UNESCO World Book Captital 2004. BOEST marked the end of a year-long break from writing poetry.
(translation prarphrased from Google)
Brian Doyle did the English translation in the video. The reading is by the author. Swoon Bildos handled everything else: concept, camera, editing, and music. I thought the shots of dancers and pigeons startling into flight made an effective pairing with the text, intermixed as they were with blurred shots of ascending motion.