Posts By Marc Neys

Marc Neys, aka Swoon, is a multifaceted creative force, known for his innovative contributions to the realms of videopoetry, music composition, and visual art. With a distinct blend of poetic vision and technical skill, Neys has carved out a unique  a journey of introspection and discovery. Neys's videopoetry has garnered widespread acclaim, earning him selection at numerous festivals around the globe. In the last few years he has concentrated more on composing and painting.

Zebra Poetry Film Festival Münster 2016: a view from the jury

The international ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival has a new home in Münster. In 2016, for the very first time, the Filmwerkstatt Münster, in cooperation with Literaturwerkstatt Berlin/Haus für Poesie, hosted the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival Münster|Berlin. The festival was located at Schloßtheater, a beautiful 1950s Art Deco cinema in Münster.

Schloßtheater (photo: Thomas Mohn)

The focus of this year’s ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival Münster|Berlin was the Netherlands and Flanders (Belgium). Since I’m Flemish, maybe that was one of the reasons they asked me to be on the jury.

I did not get a chance to see other than the selected films this year, nor to visit any of the extras that ZEBRA’s program had to offer. Maybe that’s a shame, but maybe it also made me a more focused visitor than I was at my previous visits to Zebra.

Jury Duty

Eighty films. That’s how many we had to see in two days. Eighty films from which to pick four winners. Hmm… That’s a lot.

The other members of the jury were filmmaker and festival organizer Juliane Fuchs and poet Sabine Scho — two women with a clear view and a strong interest in videopoetry/poetry films. They were also a delight to work with.

A few things I’d like to say about our goals as jury: We congratulate all the filmmakers, artists and poets who were chosen by the selection committee. We saw some fantastic films and wonderful creations this year, and were proud to play a part in the international competitions. We as ‘the jury’ wanted to make a statement. We believe that more films should have been awarded a prize. Not because it was too difficult to pick just four winners, no — that was fairly easy. We believe that more artists deserve a prize, and would prefer the budget for prizes to be split up to go to more ‘winners.’

So as ‘the jury,’ we were happy that we managed to pick six winners (instead of just four) and give three special mentions this year. On top of that, we also presented a list of films that deserved to be noted as well — films we could not award with a prize, but were too good not to mention:

Kaspar Hauser Song (Director: Susanne Wiegner, Poem: Georg Trakl)
Tzayri Lee Tzeeyur | Paint Me A Painting (Director: Jasmine Kainy, Poem: Hedva Harechavi)
Viento | Wind (Director & Poem: David Argüelles)
The Headless Nun (Director: Nuno de Sá Pessoa Costa Sequeira, Poem: Kris Skovmand)
Long Rong Song (Director: Alexander Vojjov, Poem: Ottar Ormstad)
The Poster Reads: ACTIVE SHOOTER EVENT (Director: Cheryl Gross, Poem: Nicelle Davis)
I Could Eat A Horse (Director & Poem: Jake Hovell)
What about the law (Director: Charles Badenhurst, Poem: Adam Small)
Refugee Blues (Director: Stephan Bookas, Poem: W.H. Auden)

Audience in the Schloßtheater (photo: Thomas Mohn)

If it were up to me, I would have invited (and paid) all 80 filmmakers/poets and only given prizes as an honor instead. Because the quality of those 80 chosen poetry films was so high.

The jury also felt that the selection committee left a lot of more experimental films out that we would have appreciated seeing. That is, of course, their right. It’s all about taste, after all. This year’s selection, like selections of previous years, was stuffed with many films from art schools and production companies. And that’s OK — these films have a great (technical) quality.

But the jury missed the not-so-perfect films. We missed the loner with the camera and the crazy idea. We often missed a strong poetic involvement. Brilliant technique, fantastic visuals, strong sounds and music, moving performances and lovely creatures do not always make up for the lack of a poetic experience. We really think we should encourage everyone who wants to make a poetry film (and to submit it to ZEBRA) to do so. No matter whether she or he only has a cellular with a camera and an idea, just go for it. Art should not be about equipment and/or budgets.

If you see hundreds of really well-made films — films that they could broadcast on TV any night of the week — then we jury members were looking for the one film that no one will show on TV. We tried to look beyond the well-made surfaces. If, as an artist, you feel a pressure to say something, then: say it with pressure, and not only with the perfect surface a consumer-orientated society supplies you with.

Audience in the Schloßtheater (photo: Thomas Mohn)

Many of the films we saw, said: here we are, ready to be melted, we already fit in your slots. Maybe young filmmakers and artists shouldn’t cooperate so eagerly right from the start.

But that’s something else altogether. We were there to pick winners. And yes, there were films that blew me and the other jury members away. Films that raised questions but left out the answers (Off the Trail; Director: Jacob Cartwright & Nick Jordan – Poem: “Endless streams and mountains” by Gary Snyder). Films that had the perfect surface and a wonderful technique, but also connected with the poem and left plenty of room for the viewer (Steel and Air; Director: Chris & Nick Libbey – Poem: “Steel and Air“ by John Ashbery). And films that stopped being ‘perfect combinations of different artforms’ and simply were stunning because they ‘simply were,’ in their own right, a work of art, pure and elegant (Goldfish; Director: Rain Kencana – Poem: “Goldfish“, by Shuntaro Tanikawa).

Some of the films showcased a strong sense of humor combined with a political impulse (Calling All; by Manuel Vilarinho – poem: “Chamada Geral” by Mário Henrique Leiria). Others just made you smile all the way through (Hail the Bodhisattva of Collected Junk; Director: Ye Mimi – Poem: “Hail the Bodhisattva of Collected Junk”) or cry (Process:Breath; Director: Line Klungseth Johansen – Poem: “Process:Breath“ by Line Klungseth Johansen).

The jury and winners take the stage (photo: Thomas Mohn)

I’m not going to describe all of the films we picked. (See the complete list on the ZEBRA website.) I hope that they will be all online in due time (and on Moving Poems from that day on).

But for now: Google them. Search them. Take your time looking for those that already are online. Listen and watch. See them again and again. And dive into the marvel that they are.

Swoon’s View: Videopoetry Workshop at the Annikki Poetry Festival

Last week I had the opportunity to visit Tampere, Finland. The Annikki Poetry Festival had invited me to give a workshop on videopoetry (as well as do a short live reading). The festival asked J.P. Sipilä to select a collection of videopoetry to showcase, and he suggested a workshop by Swoon.

Invitations like these are hard to decline and I want to say thanks to J.P. and to Simo Ollila for getting me there.

photo by Sini Marikki

The objective beforehand was to create a few brand-new videopoems in one day. First I showed some examples of videopoetry and talked about the genre a bit—not too long, though. Doing it is the best way to learn in my opinion.

Experimenting is fun; I showed eight small, one-minute films (animation, film, archive, abstract…) in a loop, asking every participant to write one line (sentence, word, etc.) inspired by each minute of film. So everyone had an eight-line ‘poem’. I made them all pick out one of the minute-long films and let them read their lines aloud during that film. The others could observe, look and listen. It’s a fun exercise to create something ‘right there, right now’. Words suddenly fit a certain shot (though not written for that image). The participants get to experience the importance of timing, the power of coincidence, and, hopefully, the fun of playing with words and images.

After that, four groups were formed to work on projects of their own, making sure each group had someone familiar with film and/or video and someone willing to write. I kicked them out of the classroom with two tasks: go out, film, write, have fun… and come back with two minutes of film and a short poem/text to go with that.

photo by Sini Marikki

Once they were back they started to combine and collect all the material. Choices were made about which visuals to use, while others started to write (inspired by those choices and the things they saw outside). Music and readings were recorded. Each project was scripted out for me to edit.

The room was buzzing. It’s a joy to experience that.

Time’s up!

At night in my hotel room, I edited three of the four videos, following the instructions and scripts the groups had provided me with. The last one was edited by the group at their school/home.

I must say I am very pleased with how it all worked out. Enjoy!

Read a longer account of the whole festival at my blog

Swoon: Top Ten Videopoems

Here’s a top 10 showcasing some of the possibilities in videopoetry. Things I like a lot over the last few years…yes there are many more.

Heimweg (poem by Peh)
Film and animation: Franziska Otto (2010)


Racing Time (poem by Chris Woods)
Adele Meyers & Ra Page (2012)


Delikatnie mnie odepchnąłeś całą (poem by Bozena Urszula Malinowska)
Marcin Konrad Malinowski (2012)


You and Me (“May i feel said he” by e.e. cummings)
Kartsen Krause (2009)


Profile (poem by R.W. Perkins)
R.W. Perkins (2012)


The Forty Elephants (poem by Gérard Rudolf)
Alastair Cook (2011)


Silent Scene (poem by J.P. Sipilä)
J.P. Sipilä (2013)


Our Bodies (A Sinner’s Prayer) (poem by Matt Mullins)
Matt Mullins (2013)


Who’d have thought (poem by Melissa Diem)
Melissa Diem (2013)


What Remains (poem by Gareth Sion Jenkins)
Film by Jason Lam (2010)

Swoon’s View: The Real and Pure Worlds of Janet Lees and Terry Rooney

Swoon’s View was a regular feature at Awkword Paper Cut, which has now ceased publication as a magazine (though the archives will remain online indefinitely). So with editor Michael Dickes’ permission, we are moving the column here, where it will appear on a more occasional basis.

Janet Lees

Janet Lees

Short. Sharp. Quirky. Strange. Lovely. That’s how the videopoetry of Janet Lees (with Terry Rooney or on her own) comes across. I saw some of these works at the Filmpoem Festival in Antwerp this year and was immediately taken in by the sober power they effused.

Let’s take a look at four short videopoems she has made over the last few years. Janet gave me extra info on the origin of the works:

In the spring of 2011, I spontaneously began noting down words and phrases from ads on the London Underground. That sentence doesn’t come close to conveying what I was doing. I wasn’t just hungry for those words, I was ravenous. I couldn’t get enough of them: their music, their dark comedy, the strangeness beneath their familiarity – the other things they were saying – the way they compelled me with a startling urgency to rearrange them into skewed, oddly lucid pieces.

I shared them with the photographer & videographer Rooney, who around the same time had started to take his fantastically clear vision for portent in everyday life from still images into short, fixed-viewpoint films. Rooney and I had previously worked together as an advertising creative team and we’d always shared a similar outlook, visually and on many other levels.

I’m a big fan of how they gently force the viewer to keep their eyes on the screen. Not by overpowering jump cuts or clever visuals. They use a single-shot image and text on screen to full effect. Your eyes are drawn to the screen and the poems in an almost hypnotic fashion.

These films are short and sharp as a razor. The creators have cut away any unnecessary layers to leave behind the bare and essential power. The works are like a breath of fresh air in these times of cultural abundance and profusion of advertising.

Pure, yet quirky. Fun, yet disquieting.

Take your time to digest these (over and over) and enjoy the extra info on the who and how that Janet gave me.

high voltage acts of kindness

the big cool true natural picture

For ‘high voltage’ and ‘the big cool true natural picture’ we simply matched up my found-text poems with Rooney’s films. We both had a little stock of each, so it was a case of seeing which words worked best with which films. As time went on, my words would inspire Rooney’s films and vice-versa.

In ‘high voltage’, the overall feel we wanted was a jaunty, slippery precariousness, building into a sense of impending disaster. The gas flame worked perfectly – something so ordinary and yet potentially deadly – and just slightly ‘off’ (why is there no pot sitting on the flame?). ‘The big cool true natural picture’ is a much lighter poem – basically reflecting back some of the OTT promises we’re fed. The crazily short film of the doll baby on the turntable heightened the comedy, while not entirely losing an edge of darkness.

The hours of darkness

‘The hours of darkness’ features footage of flamingos that I took in a wildlife park in the middle of winter. I found the sight of the flamingos in this big gloomy shed electrifying – there was something both prehistoric and post-apocalyptic about it. In my mind, I knew there was only one poem for this film – ‘The hours of darkness’, which I’d written about a year before, inspired by the anodyne yet always to my ear potentially sinister messages contained within in-flight announcements and other forms of mass communication. Here, the repeated phrase ‘May we remind you’ assumes an increasingly dark, Orwellian tone.

everything is poetry

The tone in ‘everything is poetry’ is markedly different. This is an original as opposed to found-text poem, inspired by the beauty that exists in the present moment, where we so rarely live. Here the fixed viewpoint has a more Zen-like quality, with words and footage working together – both doing different things but effectively celebrating the same thing. The film was taken at Portmeirion Village in Wales, where I was mesmerised by the effect of a sunlit fountain in a pool. I scoured the amazingly generous resource that is mobygratis to find the right piece of music, and then worked with the brilliant videographer Glenn Whorrall on editing. Glenn also helped me to edit ‘The hours of darkness’ – his sense of timing is pitch-perfect.

About the artists

Janet Lees is a poet and artist with an interest in multidisciplinary digital work. Working in collaboration with Rooney and independently, she has had work selected for international prizes and festivals including Filmpoem, the Aesthetica Art Prize and the British and Irish Poetry Film festivals. Rooney is a photographer and videographer who has won acclaim for his raw, thought-provoking images and short, fixed viewpoint films.

Swoon Films 11 Flemish Poets

[press release — feel free to reproduce in whole or in part]

How to make a film based on 11 Dutch-language poems? A fair question. Video artist Swoon has made the poetry short ‘Circle’, in which poems by Leonard Nolens, Stefan Hertmans, Delphine Lecompte, Charles Ducal, Michaël Vandebril, Lies Van Gasse, Xavier Roelens, Jan Lauwereyns, Marleen de Crée, Stijn Vranken and Yannick Dangre tell the story of someone’s life. The poems were recorded by three well-known Flemish actors: Vic De Wachter, Michaël Pas and Karlijn Sileghem.

An extended trailer can be seen on Vimeo.

The Flemish poetry film will premiere on Sunday 10 March at the Scottish international poetry festival StAnza. With this international presentation in mind, all poems were translated by professional poetry translator Willem Groenewegen.

The Belgian premiere will be held on 13 June at the Felix Poetry Festival in Antwerp.

‘Circle’ is a Vonk & Zonen production and was realised with the support of the Flemish Literature Fund and the City of Antwerp. Vonk & Zonen is a new literary organisation focusing on new ways to showcase literature. Recent projects include the ‘Lonely Funeral’ programme, ‘NewsPoem’ in the De Morgen newspaper and the ‘Working Title’ evenings. The poetry film ‘Circle’ is an excellent way to familiarise a wider audience with poetry in an innovative and accessible way.

Swoon (a.k.a. Marc Neys, *1968) has more than 90 videopoems to his name, based on texts by, amongst others, Bernard Dewulf, Johan de Boose, Michaël Vandebril and Jan Lauwereyns. His videopoems were shown at a lot of international festivals, such as those in Berlin (ZEBRA), Vancouver (Visible Verse) and New York (International Literary Filmfestival). This year, Swoon has been asked to co-curate the first Filmpoem Festival (2-4/8/13, Dunbar, Scotland) alongside Alastair Cook, Luca Nasciuti and Dave Bonta.

Editor’s note: We will share the full-length film on Moving Poems as soon as it becomes available. In the meantime, enjoy the trailer (and attend StAnza or the Felix Poetry Festival if you can). See also Swoon’s post mortem of last year’s Felix Poetry Festival here at the forum.

Antwerp poetry festival features videopoems

Last week, the Felix Poetry Festival in Antwerp, Belgium, organized by Michaël Vandebril, included a feature on videopoetry, with filmmakers Alastair Cook and Swoon Bildos (Marc Neys) as invited participants. It garnered some good press in De Standard newspaper, including a mention of Moving Poems! Marc also sent along this report on the proceeedings. —Dave B.

I didn’t attend the first day. Alastair was just arrived and we were both a bit tired. (Day one was about Belgian Poetry, including a discussion of whether there’s actually such a thing as Belgian poetry, being a bilingual country.) So for starters, here’s a small video-impression I made of the second day of the festival:

This is an impression of the second evening, the international evening with poets. Jan Lauwereyns is from Belgium, but lives in Japan. He did a poem with a simultaneous Japanese translation and later he also translated a small part of a Ron Silliman poem into ‘Aantwaareps’, our local dialect. Ron Silliman was there, Will Stone, Chus Pato (Spanish), and Emilian Gaaicu-Paun (Romanian), who was translated into Dutch by Jan H. Mysjkin.

Leonard Nolens was also there (and on the video). He’s more or less the greatest living poet in Belgium. You could hear a pin drop during his reading. We also had Ronelda S. Kamfer, but I didn’t get to shoot footage of her — a shame, because she was very good.

Alastair and I had a short talk about videopoetry and showed some of our work. Alastair showed two of his ‘Absent Voices’ project:

and an older one:

I showed:


After that, we both showed our commisioned work for a Bernard Dewulf poem (Bernard is ‘City-Poet’ of Antwerp this year), ‘Aan Het Water.’ (See the main site to watch the two films. —Dave)

In the afternoon of that same day, Alastair and I — it was the first time we actually met — had a 90 minute lecture about filmpoems and videopoems. No images from that, but we each showed 10 of our videos and films and talked about our working process and projects. (That’s why there was that interview in the paper, BTW. It’s one of our leading and most respected papers.)

So, there you go: a good festival and a good chance for video- or film-poetry to ‘get out there’.

Filmmaker seeks poet

I am looking for a writer who is willing to let these three films inspire him/her to write three poems for them…

Look and listen…absorb…look and listen some more…and write…

I’m looking for three new poems (please use the titles of the films) written for these three videos:

Disturbance in the maze
Wailing Wall Crumbs
Ghostless Blues (The story of Vladimir K.)

More info, mail me: