At Engaging Empathy Lucy and I gave presentations about our latest touring screening – Uprooted – comprised of a collection of searing and arresting films by international poetry filmmakers on the refugee crisis. Films are divided into those centred on war zones, in transition and accounts of their experiences trying to build new homes in a strange country. It is interesting to see how an empathetic approach to poetry filmmaking has combined with different approaches and levels of first-hand experience by the filmmakers and poets taking part. Lucy’s films included in the main screening were Numbers by Maciej Piatek and The Last Days by Marie Craven, and I screened my latest film Night Bus. It was interesting to hear writers such as Nathan Filer (and his upcoming new book The Heartland) discussing the questions surrounding creative writing and non-fiction, particularly relating to the delicate topic of interviewing subjects and how they are then portrayed.
It was impossible not to feel enriched and wanting to learn more, with fascinating presentations that ranged from the ‘I’, neuropsychology and creativity; empathy, personal trauma and art as therapy; the ethics of creating narratives around non-fictional subjects and political climates changing what we call ‘home’ and a way of life. It was also a meaningful moment for Lucy and I since Liberated Words had its first screening at the first Mix at Pound Arts Centre in 2012. Setting aside the time for lengthy personal projects (The Book of Hours and The Poetics of Video Poetry Film) I feel as if we have steadily built on our aim to host screenings combining international poetry filmmakers with workshops by others whose voices are less heard, and we will be developing this aspect in 2019.
A big thank you from myself and Lucy English to the very thought-provoking Engaging Empathy Through Creativity Conference organisers at Bath Spa University: Professor Maggie Gee, Dr Kylie Fitzpatrick and Dr Tanvir Bush and everyone else who made the day so worthwhile.