Director Alan Fentiman worked with poet Tony Williams to produce a documentary on the relationship between dog-walking and writing, concluding with a poem that grew out of the film-making process. I first saw Roam to Write at the 2013 Filmpoem Festival in Dunbar, Scotland, and when I got back to the States I shared the link with some friends who study the literature of place but inexplicably forgot to share it here. It was brought back to mind by a new video released by the same two guys, a film of a pub discussion about poetry film, which I posted at Moving Poems Magazine on Sunday.
“Roam to Write” is a short documentary film which I filmed, edited and produced in Alnwick Northumberland. The 15 minute film follows poet Tony Williams as he walks the same route over 5 days. Each day Tony addresses different aspects of the creative relationship between walking and writing.
I especially love working with artists and writers, and documenting their creative process. I want the audience to gain an understanding of how ideas develop and emerge through a piece of work. Working with Tony was a especially rewarding as we developed the idea for the film over many months. It allowed me time to absorb and reflect on Tony’s writing process and work out ways of showing this through film.
During filming Tony worked on a piece of poetry called “But tell me, who are they, these Travellers” which he performs at the end of the film. This poem reflects on his earlier observations about writing and walking.
I shot the the film over a week with a Panasonic AF101, a steadicam and a GH2. We developed the initial ideas during fireside discussions at The Tanners pub in Alnwick. Tony then wrote the script and together we developed the storyboard over egg and chip lunches and the odd evening pint. After logging the footage in Adobe Prelude, Tony sat with me throughout the editing process.
Williams expanded his thoughts into an open-access journal article, “The Writer Walking the Dog: Creative Writing Practice and Everyday Life.” Here’s the abstract:
Creative writing happens in and alongside the writer’s everyday life, but little attention has been paid to the relationship between the two and the contribution made by everyday activities in enabling and shaping creative practice. The work of the anthropologist Tim Ingold supports the argument that creative writing research must consider the bodily lived experience of the writer in order fully to understand and develop creative practice. Dog-walking is one activity which shapes my own creative practice, both by its influence on my social and cultural identity and by providing a time and space for specific acts instrumental to the writing process to occur. The complex socio-cultural context of rural dog-walking may be examined both through critical reflection and creative work. The use of dog-walking for reflection and unconscious creative thought is considered in relation to Romantic models of writing and walking through landscape. While dog-walking is a specific activity with its own peculiarities, the study provides a case study for creative writers to use in developing their own practice in relation to other everyday activities from running and swimming to shopping, gardening and washing up.
Flemish poet Astrid Haerens‘ poem “Trein” in a film by American animators Annelyse Gelman and Auden Lincoln-Vogel, commissioned last year by Filmpoem and included in Deus ex Machina‘s “Filmpoem Album” DVD (which I reviewed here). Now it’s available with English subtitling.
A terrific poem and film that should appeal to gun-toting meat-eaters and vegan gun-control advocates alike. (And what else but art or poetry could bridge such a chasm?) Director Alastair Cook writes,
I have admired Vicki Feaver and her words for some time. I recorded this in 2011 and kept it safe, finally entrusting the sound to Luca Nasciuti and the cinematography to James William Norton, our core Filmpoem team. I’ve worked with Vicki on the amazing community arts project in Greenock, Absent Voices and also Empire Cafe, Louise Welsh and Jude Barber’s Commonwealth 2014 project, looking at the unbearable links between slavery and Scotland.
So, the Gun. I may stop now, because (forgive the immodesty) I love this one. Love it. The timbre in Vicki’s voice is dry, broken, words delivered with such a punch. I enjoyed editing this one, it’s why I do this, it was so very difficult to get right, but I do hope you enjoy it. The Gun has now screened at Felix (Antwerp), Poetry International (London) and will screen at ZEBRA (Berlin). [links added]
This is Filmpoem 39, by the core team at Filmpoem: directed by Alastair Cook with cinematography by James William Norton and sound composed by Luca Nasciuti. The text, by Michael Symmons Roberts, was one of four new poems by British poets on the theme of migration commissioned for Filmpoem Festival 2014.
The video is also presented on the Filmpoem website, an increasingly useful site for people interested in poetry films generally. (If you’re in London this weekend, don’t miss the Filmpoem events at the Southbank Centre.)
This film was selected as the winner of the Open Competition at the 2014 Filmpoem Festival in Antwerp (part of the Felix International Poetry Festival). The description accompanying Filmpoem’s upload to Vimeo:
Naar Wat We Waren, a film by Lies Van Der Auwera of the poem by Eric Joris is just terrific. We chose this as the Filmpoem Prize for reasons which will be clear as soon as you watch it – a real melding together of sound word and image. There are many beautiful poetry-films, lush and sumptuous. This is not one. This is real, alive and honest. Congratulations to all involved!
The film was produced collaboratively by the Poetry Prophets: Eric Joris (poem and voice), Kristof Van Rossem (music) and Lies Van der Auwera (camera and editing). There’s also a version without subtitles. It’s part of a collection of videopoems that emerged from a workshop led by Marc Neys (Swoon) at a creative writing program in Antwerp.
This is exciting to me because it shows that videopoetry workshops can be an integral part of writing programs, and that they can produce highly effective, publishable results. (Here’s the English translation of the writing program page from Google.) American MFA program directors, take note!
David Harsent reads his poem over a score composed by Luca Nasciuti in this film by Alastair Cook; James William Norton contributed cinematography. According to the description on Vimeo, “Filmpoem Festival 2014 commissioned British poets David Harsent, Helen Mort, John Glenday and Michael Symmons Roberts to produce new work on the theme of migration,” and then commissioned films incorporating the poems. I hope to share the others here in the weeks ahead.
Edinburgh-based video producer Alicja Pawluczuk made this film under commission by Filmpoem and Felix Poetry Festival in association with the Poetry Society; the text by Patricia Wooldridge, read by the author, is another one of the commended poems from the 2013 National Poetry Competition. One of the judges, Jane Yeh, had this to say about the poem:
The switchbacks and disjunctions of this look back at the past give it a paradoxically contemporary style; as a portrait of the artist as a young woman, it feels both authentic and fresh. The audacious last stanza is a triumph of brevity and art, spinning off into multiple directions while drawing the poem together into a memorable finish.
Be sure to view all the National Poetry Competition 2013 Filmpoems at the Poetry Society website.