A film by James William Norton in collaboration with Filmpoem. The poem by Paul Nemser was commended in the 2014 National Poetry Competition from the Poetry Society, who commissioned the film as part of a series of NPC 2014 filmpoems. NPC judge Roddy Lumsden said of the poem:
‘After the Calm’ is a mix of deliciously frothy language and mysterious narrative. It is angsty and slippery. It tempts us to solve that restricted narrative but keeps our attention. It shifts between straightforward lines and unusual phrasing (‘dizzily companionable wane’, ‘angels powdering the breezes’). Intriguing, somewhat disturbing, it impresses with its dark charm.
This filmpoem by Katie Garrett is an excellent demonstration of how to stay close to the imagery of a poem without merely illustrating it and diminishing both film and text in the process. The text, by Mark Pajak, is a Commended poem from the Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition 2014. Judge Zoë Skoulding’s remarks on the poem already seem to anticipate the filmpoem:
The ingenious structure of ‘Cat on the Tracks’ produces an eerie sense of inevitability, where the lines of both poem and the train hurtle on their collision course. The filmic detail of the cat’s eyes’ slow blink draws us into a parallel world in which physical laws seem – just for a moment – suspended.
Jonathan Tel‘s Commended poem from the Poetry Society‘s National Poetry Competition 2014, as read by Alastair Cook in a film directed by Corinne Silva, with sound by Vladimir Kruytchev. A particular challenge for this film was how to represent the Chinese characters included in the text. I also found the low-key camera work and natural sound a good counterpoint to the poem, which takes the form of a somewhat discursive letter. The statement from competition judge Zoë Skoulding reads:
‘Ber Lin’ connects places by exploring coincidences of sound and sense. The carefulness of expression intriguingly gives the feeling of a translation, even though it is not one. This distancing effect makes us see how language is always on the move, living in juxtaposition with other languages. At the same time the poem gives a sharp sense not just of place, but place as it is imagined and remembered.
Considering that Jonathan Tel is himself American, the choice to have Alastair read it adds another layer of linguistic juxtaposition.
I see by the way that the Poetry Society has a really nice page now for its commissioned poetry films, including a sub-section for the National Poetry Competition 2014 Filmpoems, so if you’re impatient at my slow rate of sharing them here, you can go there and watch them all.
From the judges: ”This poem of historical abuse works powerfully because it’s written with a tremulous watchful grace. The adult perspective recalling the child perspective is very finely done, as the bifurcated character remembers the day that clove her in two. Its rhymes are halting, haunting, they come and go as if desperate both to remember and forget.” – Glyn Maxwell.
The Poetry Society’s annual National Poetry Competition is for previously unpublished single poems.
Filmpoems have been commissioned in partnership with Alastair Cook and Filmpoem for all eleven winning poems, and will tour at festivals around the country and beyond.
A poetry-film about a photographer strikes me as a particularly difficult assignment, but director James William Norton of Filmpoem rose to the challenge, enlisting the aid of actress Kelcy Davenport. Artist and writer Roger Philip Dennis‘ poem “Corkscrew Hill Photo” took First Prize in the Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition 2014, and Norton uses his recitation in the soundtrack, along with soundscapes by Farah Mulla and music by Dissimilar.
Alastair Cook of Filmpoem directs, with cinematography by James William Norton and sound by Luca Nasciuti. “The Day the Deer Came” was the Second Prize winner in the UK’s 2014 National Poetry Competition. The Vimeo description notes that “Filmpoems of the top three winning poems have been commissioned in partnership with Alastair Cook and Filmpoem. Filmpoems of all eleven winning poems will be available to watch later this year, and will tour at festivals around the country and beyond.”
For more on the poet, Joanne Key, see her page at the Poetry Society website.
A “filmpoem by Alicja Pawluczuk. Commissioned in collaboration with Alastair Cook and Filmpoem,” according to a page for the poem at The Poetry Society’s website. “Last exit to Luton” by Fran Lock was the Third Prize winner in the UK’s 2014 National Poetry Competition. Click through and scroll down for more on the poet.