Descent by Janet Lees

Just as the third Thursday in November is American Thanksgiving, the first Thursday in October is British National Poetry Day (albeit with less carb-loading, and poetry readings instead of American football). Given that live events have been severely curtailed by the pandemic, I thought we’d better help out by sharing something from one of our favorite British videopoets, Janet Lees. (Janet is Manx, so British but not UK. I checked, and yes, they do celebrate National Poetry Day there.)

Janet uploaded this film back in July, noting:

Poem, photography and animation by Janet Lees. Poem made from perfume brand names.
Music by Scott Buckley

Wonderful stuff. So many advertisements have appropriated poetry in recent years, it’s fascinating to see how successfully Janet has turned that around and re-purposed consumerist language for a found poem. It feels as if, in a small but significant way, poetry and truth-telling are reasserting their primacy. Decontextualized desires and impulses shape a Neverland of mutable landscapes, unreliable weather and continually shifting baselines. (Which is one way to characterize the entire Anthropocene.)

Among other things, this really demonstrates the importance of poets learning to make their own films. It’s hard to see how a videopoem like this would be made otherwise.

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