There aren’t too many rules about what makes a successful poetry film, but one I tend to follow a lot when deciding what to post here is that a too-close match of imagery to text usually feels redundant and reductive, diminishing a poem rather than adding an extra dimension. But in this new film from the UK Poetry Society, somehow a teenage poet, Shakira Morar, and director Suzanne Cohen manage to break that rule, and I think it’s because the limpid quality of the text allows the illustrative imagery to attain a symbolic, even mythic weight. Watch it and judge for yourself. Here’s the description on the Poetry Society’s website:
On World Poetry Day 2017, we are delighted to present a new poetry film, produced by The Poetry Society to celebrate the overall winner of the Poetry for Peace 2016 project, chosen by Judith Palmer. The film features the winning poem by Shakira Morar, aged 17, from Headington School, Oxford, who reads the poem in the film, in English, while the Arabic translation by Manal Nakli appears as subtitles. The poem is inspired by a 4,000 year-old Mesopotamian jug in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and the film is directed by Suzanne Cohen.
‘Poetry for Peace, 2016’ is part of the award winning, Arts Council-funded ‘Writing Mesopotamia’ collaboration between Oxford poet Jenny Lewis and the distinguished Iraqi poet Adnan al-Sayegh aimed at building bridges between English and Arabic-speaking communities. It involved Adnan and Jenny working with the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, The Poetry Society and more than sixty 11-17 year olds from four Oxford schools – Oxford Spires Academy, the Sudanese Saturday School, Headington School and Cherwell School – on themes of heritage and peace to produce poems for a competition judged by the poets.