Poet: Paula Bohince

At Thirty by Paula Bohince

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A poem by Paula Bohince adapted to film by Thibault Debaveye for Motionpoems, who refer to it on Facebook as

our first crowdsourced voiceover! Thanks to our voiceover artists John W. Goodman, Jeannie Elizabeth, Louis Murphy, Amy Miller, Jennifer Jabaily-Blackburn, Veronica Suarez, Carrie Simpson, Michelle Meyer, Juliet Patterson, Will Campbell, and Clare McWilliams.

Debaveye’s description on Vimeo:

Feeling empty. Null and void. Finding a new identity.
“At Thirty”, a visual poem about this feeling of being there but not being present.
Non-existent silhouette of ordinary people as they go about their lives in everyday chores.

See Motionpoems’ upload for the full credits, and visit their website to read the text of the poem and a brief interview with Bohince.

Among Barmaids by Paula Bohince

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American poet Paula Bohince took second prize in the 2013 National Poetry Competition from the U.K.’s Poetry Society with “Among Barmaids,” interpreted elegantly by filmmaker Idil Sukan in a commission by Filmpoem and Felix Poetry Festival.

From the National Poetry Competition judges: ‘There was a metal door that took both hands/ of a strong man to open’ – so begins this taut, impressive poem, going on to say that the barmaids did this daily, then ruled benignly the enclosed world ‘sealed in submarine darkness’ behind the door. With remarkable economy, the poem manages to construct an extremely detailed picture of the rituals of the bar-room, the lives of the barmaids – whose tattooed skin bears the history of ex-lovers and drugged-out children – and the lives of the drinkers ‘who wore their trade on their fingers – coal or dirt or grease’, and who played songs on the jukebox about cheating women. The voice of the poem speaks in the first person plural, like a Greek chorus. Perhaps this is what lends the poem its power – the directness of the choral tone, the precision of the detail, the staccato delivery. The choral voice delivers an incantation of great warmth in a cold place. This is brought home in the final image of the children brought to the bar by the men, when their wives needed peace, to be spun on a make-believe dance-floor by the ministering barmaids, trying to turn ‘despair into a party’. {Matthew Sweeney}

For the text of the poem, see the Poetry Society website.