The Perseids by Lucy English

While most of what I categorize as videopoetry here comes about as the result of a filmmaker (who may also be the poet) making a video version of a preexisting text, in this case, filmmaker/musician Swoon (Marc Neys) sent British poet Lucy English a couple of musical prompts and asked her to write a poem in response. The music she chose then became the soundtrack for a videopoem using her reading and some found footage. Swoon blogged about the process, quoting English at length:

Rather than Marc supplying images to an existing poem or me creating a poem in response to images. Marc suggested that I choose a sound track from a few he had chosen. The one I liked sounded mysterious. The tension also built up as the track progressed. I didn’t force the image but what I saw in my mind was a starry sky. I decided to follow my emotional response. The feeling the track created in me was one of wistfulness and sadness.

The previous weekend I had watched the Persieds meteor shower, from a hotel room in Stratford on Avon. This experience, so different from a youthful experience of being outside on a summer’s evening, blended with the soundtrack. What I wanted to write about was how difficult it is to be spontaneous, and indeed naively optimistic, when we are older.

When I was younger I didn’t seem to worry about logistics, such as how was I going to get to a place, or how was I going to get back, I just went somewhere. I also had a baby in my early twenties and I used to take him with me as well.

So the poems is wistful. It is about wanting to feel that carelessness and optimism. It’s about being young and what gets lost when you get older.

I sent the poem to Marc and let him have free range about the images to choose. I liked what he selected. He didn’t focus on the night sky and the meteor shower but instead he used images of children playing in the summer. The repeated sections of film, were to me, like the repetition of memory itself. The summer day and the summer night become blended and the colour changes from yellow to dark blue. His first version was more about the day time and less about the night and I suggested that the final merge into the starry night/ specks of dust could be longer. He agreed with this and now the film ends with this longer sequence.

I find the final result moving. There is a strange tension between the words of the poem and the flickering images. The sound track offers a level of emotional depth to the wistfulness of the poem. This is my first poetry film collaboration and I have found the process inspiring. More!!!

Read the rest of Swoon’s blog post.


  1. Reply
    Erica Goss 10 October, 2013

    This is extraordinary, on several levels, but I would like to commend the collaborative nature of this project. This is a videopoem that is the sum of its lovely parts, and even more than that. Emotionally evocative too. I love the line about the baby’s “fluff of hair.” I instantly recalled my time as a young mother, how fearless it is to bring children into this world, and how we are all made of the same material as the stars. Thank you, Lucy and Marc, for this beautiful piece of art.

    • Reply
      Dave 10 October, 2013

      Yes, I was struck, on watching this for the third time this morning, by just how well everything fits together. It certainly does show the kind of synergy that can happen when poets open themselves up to artistic collaboration.

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