Tasting Notes by Matthew Stewart

This is one of the best, most satisfying films based on a poetry collection that I’ve seen. It was made in 2013 in support of a pamphlet (chapbook) of the same title from Happenstance Press. The poems are clearly differentiated, yet blend pretty seamlessly into a whole, with shots of the poet in a vineyard as part of the connective tissue. British poet Matthew Stewart collaborated with Spanish filmmaker José María Fernández de Vega of GLOW production company in Extramadura, where Stewart works in the wine trade. It’s hard to imagine a more poetic vocation! And since the speaker in each poem is a different variety of wine, and they’re all delivered in the poet’s own voice, it’s as if we’re hearing missing metamorphoses out of Ovid.

A while back I compiled my Top Ten Multi-Poem Films and Videopoems. This would certainly have occupied a prominent position in the list had it been available at the time. Conservative as the choice of images is, they rarely feel overly obvious. And Stewart’s voiceover is well done: readerly, but with excellent cadence and modulation. I’d have preferred somewhat less melodic music by way of contrast, but otherwise there were no false notes for me among these very tasty words and images.

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