All the films are online now at The Visible Poetry Project www.visiblepoetryproject.com @VisiblePoetryProject. You can view a poem a day for April – National Poetry Month USA – from the New York-based organisation. I have really enjoyed the variety, especially during lockdown, and it is good to look back over previous years, too. If you are a selected filmmaker you can pick one of their chosen poems to develop. My allotted day is April 25th and I was lucky to be able to choose evocative, bittersweet poem ‘Selfie with Marilyn’ by US poet Heidi Seaborn www.heidiseabornpoet.com @HeidiSeaborn. Her writing encapsulates Marilyn’s imaginary thoughts / loss of innocence perfectly to me. Equally, I feel Hatti Rees www.hattirees.com @Hatti_Rees completely inhabits the roles of Marilyn and Norma Jeane. Many thanks VPP, Heidi and Hatti (and Georgi for the stills) for the fantastic opportunity. More details soon – Sarah 🙂
Lucy and I had an enjoyable but difficult time judging the poetry films at Newlyn PZ Film Festival 2020 www.newlynfilmfestival.com (now rescheduled for next year). But well done to all who entered, the eleven finalists and the prize winners, who are justly deserved. A particular mention goes to: Dave Richardson for Sinkhole and Adrian B. Earle (ThinkWriteFly) for BoyShapedSpace, for joint first-place winners. Each of these films addresses different experiences of losing (readjusting to a father with Alzheimer’s) and loss (the death of a son and friend), in such moving and affecting ways.
The filmic interpretation of Canadian poet Doyali Islam’s thought-provoking poem ‘Water for Canaries’ won second prize with evocative and mesmerising hand-cut stencil animations (such delicate and beautiful birds) by director Suzie Hanna. It is a meditation on a photograph taken during a ceasefire after the bombing of the city Beit Hanoun in 2014, where the fragility of life remains poignant amidst the destruction. In Fugitive Creatures, third prize winner Meriel Lland has expanded on her ethos of biophilia (embracing a connection with other species), linking the point of view of an elderly man, and the power of nature to sustain him through his journey in life. Lland quotes the spiritual teacher Thich Nhat Hanh ‘Real change will only happen when we fall in love with our planet. We cannot “be” by ourselves but as “interbeings” with all that is.’ In short, to connect with and appreciate the natural world will change us, too.
Please go to Liberated Words for further details and links to the films.
Congratulations Valerie LeBlanc and Daniel H. Dugas - Wonderful news that the mammoth – over 400 pages – publication Videopoetry = Vidéopoésie by leading Canadian videopoets Valerie LeBlanc and Daniel H. Dugas is now out online. It is available at: https://dr.library.brocku.ca/handle/10464/14790 Published by Brock University’s Small Walker Press it is a comprehensive survey of their collaboration over a thirty-year period. Catherine Parayre has written the French introduction, with Lucy English writing in English. It has also been my pleasure to contribute an essay on their extraordinary body of work.
In my research it took me a long time to get to know (and relish) all their developments. I am particularly fond of their use of documenting first-hand experience as in ‘Slices of Life’ from the nineties for example; as well as their finely crafted and important ecopoetry films of more recent years. For my in-depth analysis on their filmic and poetic techniques please check out the book itself.
But I would just like to say that what adds to the poetry (that is always succinct, and of its time and place whilst setting us on a philosophical path), is the fact that it is bilingual. This can create comparisons (visual as well as verbal), as one language is typeset next to the other, but also reminds us of their Canadian roots, and all its associations and influences (geographic, artistic and political). The poetry and the videos emanate not just from the combining of two creative fields, and the collaboration and consequent creative marriage of two people, but two significant cultures. This ‘bilinguality’ extends our understanding of what it means to be not just poetically engaged and enlightened but politically aware in the 21st century. Go Read!!!!
So proud to say that "Solstice Sol Invictus" with film direction and poetry by myself (first four stanzas) and Lucy English (last four), with additional voice by Helmie Stil is part of the online FESTIVAL OF HOPE organized by the Haus für Poesie in cooperation with Versopolis Review, mining social and political questions https://www.versopolis.com April 24th to April 30th with online events t/out the year.
‘Versopolis, a platform of 30 European international poetry festivals, and the Versopolis Review, a platform that publishes self-reflexive opinions of a range of authors on urgent social, political, ecological and cultural questions concerning Europe, aim to create a unique transnational opportunity, where hope can be reflected about, steered, demonstrated, poeticised, questioned and addressed. This opportunity will emerge as the„FESTIVAL OF HOPE“, subtitled as The Versopolis Global Virtual Poetry Festival. The festival will take place online and simultaneously with numerous international partners and contributors, all coming together at the Versopolis Review website and other Versopolis channels, such as social media.’
In these isolating times when the world feels as if it is on hold, I am sharing an article by artist Rebecca Hilton on Liberated Words, looking back to the festive warmth we all experienced at ZEBRA in December 2019. I hope you are all keeping safe and that you are, of course, using any extra time to create poetry and poetry films!
Lucy English and I curated a selection of Poetry Films for the Environment for LYRA 2020, March 14 in Bristol, where the theme was part of the festival this year. We had an international screening with films from: Mary McDonald, Penn Kemp; Ian Gibbins; Helen Dewbery, Suzannah Evans; Helen Moore, Howard Vause; Jutta Pryor, Lucy English; Janet Lees; Fiona Tin Wei Lam, Tisha Deb Pillai; Valerie LeBlanc, Daniel Dugas; Meriel Lland; Sarah Tremlett. Please go to www.liberatedwords.com to find the screening booklet; a recorded panel discussion (Mark Smalley of Extinction Rebellion, ecopoetry filmmaker Meriel Lland and myself did not attend due to the onset of the virus) with Helen Moore, Caleb Parkin and Lucy English; and currently essays by Meriel Lland and Lucy English, with others to follow by Caleb and Helen. We will be showcasing more films on our shared ecosystem in the future.
After hearing this really interesting discussion, I would like to retitle our collection of Poetry Films ‘for the Environment’ as ‘Poetry Films for a Shared Ecosystem’. As Helen Moore noted the very term environment puts man at the centre and everything else seemingly ‘out there’ in a binary of culture and nature. So many vital points raised, particularly in relation to artistic practice, and how a poem for a poetry film, rather than the page, may need a different structural approach – more space – to allow for the other elements of moving image and supportive soundscape. Ultimately, they agreed that ‘shifts in perception’ and/or empowering others, or simply gaining knowledge (as a maker or viewer) were all outcomes that they hoped might result from watching these films, which highlight a planet in crisis.