~ News and Views ~

Stepping stones in Cancer Alley

The Lyra Festival is Bristol’s (UK) poetry festival, and 2024 is the festival’s sixth edition. The theme for this year was Poetic Futures, with a focus on technology and the future and also imaginative new worlds.

I was invited to view Cancer Alley, a poetry film created by UK poet, Lucy English, with US filmmakers Pamela Falkenberg and Jack Cochran, with digital media effects company Holotronica.

Title screen of Cancer Alley

The film itself is a powerful insight into the lack of responsibility that multinational companies take (or governments enforce) for the impact of their activities on the environment. It highlights the industrial area of ‘Cancer Alley’ in Louisiana and the devastating problem of pollution created by the factories at the heart of the global petrochemical industry. It is impossible not to be deeply disturbed by the situation humanity finds itself in, and reflect on past situations that we still haven’t learnt from. A short poetry film is vastly apart from an Oscar-nominated blockbuster on so many counts (not least budget of course), but I think it is a compliment to the quality of this film that I brought to mind Erin Brockovich and felt depressed that 24 years on from the film, and 50+ years on from the Hinkley ground water contamination incident that it features, that here is another horrible situation that is, inevitably, just one of so many more around the world. I hope that the film is a tiny stepping stone to widening knowledge of Cancer Alley.

Still image from Cancer Alley

The film was presented as a continuous loop at the Watershed arts centre in Bristol. It was situated in its own darkened space, just off the main bar, and was free to enter and exit at will. The audience steps in and faces the double screen presentation, where they can watch standing or sitting.

This was a great venue because it was open all day for curious people to drop in and take a look. For me, I think the chance encounter is hugely valuable for drawing in audiences from a wider base than would choose to specifically attend a film screening of any kind of poetry or art film. The film was prominently featured in the brochure for the festival too, which I think is very encouraging for poetry film. It can be all too easy for organisers to put events that run for a duration at the back of a brochure (where they are easily overlooked), after the ‘headliner’ daily events. I hope this encouraged festival visitors to plan to drop in to the Watershed before, or after, their ticketed events, and people hanging out at the bar for a coffee or some lunch to take a look too.

The film was advertised as a poetry film hologram exhibition. I have to say, this was the most disappointing thing about the presentation. With hologram in the description, I was expecting a 3-d element to the film and felt I was mis-sold on that. I’d been hoping for something more like the ‘Apparition’ I’d seen of a Dominique Gonzales-Foerster piece in her retrospective exhibition a few years ago that was in Dusseldorf and Paris, but in the poetry film genre. I’ve since checked to see if I had misunderstood the nature of holograms, but a generally defining feature of them is the creation of a 3-dimensional effect. Cancer Alley is presented with a layered element. The film is split between footage that appears on a back wall, and images and text that is on a foreground transparent gauze screen. Together these are beautifully done. I particularly liked the integration of the type on screen, and the images of smoke and yellow rain. However, for me, these are flat layers rather than 3-dimensions, albeit with a depth to them.

Holotronica, the company that English, Falkenberg and Cochran worked with on this, does create 3-dimensional presentations, and in fact claims itself as ‘world-leaders in hologram effects’, with many amazing shows and events, including Beyoncé, on their website. They have specialist products for projection – including the specialist gauze screen. Unfortunately, though the quality of the image on the foreground gauze was just beautiful, it was extremely hard to appreciate when the projection on the back wall was on a screen that did not fill the ‘window’ in the gauze. The surroundings of the back screen are all too visible because they were not blacked out. I had to work hard to suspend disbelief that I wasn’t looking through the gauze layer into a classroom with a whiteboard (effectively I was), and that a teacher wasn’t going to appear soon to set geography homework on the effects of pollution.

Installation view: smoke and lettering on foreground translucent screen, with oil industry images on background screen.

But there were also serendipitous pluses at work too. There were points at which the projection spilled onto the ceiling and the adjacent metal pipework and surrounded the viewer, and those moments felt stunningly immersive. They brought me into a comparison with feelings I had inside the Sarah Sze and Artangel project ‘Waiting Room’ last summer in Peckham Rye, London.

Images from the films where they fell across the room and ceiling

I was fortunately able to chat to all three of the creators, Lucy, Pam, and Jack, after I watched the film. They see the result at the Watershed as their pilot project, something that they would like to build upon, leading to something better and more ambitious in the future. For this event specifically, they are fully aware of the limitations of the technical presentation of the film at the Watershed. Budget is always an issue because the technical equipment is very expensive, and it does create limitations and compromises. They would have liked to have been able to black out the area behind the gauze. Some artists are of the mindset that they would not show their work in less-than-ideal conditions. But I am very much with Pam on her views that doing something and showing work on a shoestring is better than doing nothing – it can only mean learning from the process and helping to demonstrate what is possible and what might be achieved in future. They would love to be able to bring this work to other venues, and I hope it helps them, and others, to bring poetry film installation ideas to fruition in the future.

From left to right: Pamela Falkenberg, Jack Cochran (Outlier Moving Pictures), Lucy English

It is sad that creatives are so often put in the difficult position of doing something with nothing or very little, and/or funding it themselves. The technology is paid for, the technical staff are paid for and little is left for either the details of fulfilling the true creative potential of the work that has been created, or paying the artists fairly. (I recommend anyone interested in this to check out the campaign of UK-based artist Lindsay Seers – Frank Fair Artists Pay)

It is also interesting to reflect on the differences between this and the VR experience Abandoned Library that I saw at the MIX 2023 conference at the British Library. The VR meant that the creatives were in full control of the ‘environment’ in which the viewer was placed. There were similarities in the environmental theme, and the use of smoke, mist and rain to create mood and feeling for the piece. However, VR is still so restrictive and uncomfortable to experience. I’m not sure I would readily swap the ease of stepping into a room and comfortably sitting down, for something I’ve got to wait my turn for or book a slot, then sitting awkwardly in a swivel seat while someone (at far too close quarters) adjusts the headset while I feel like I am about to have a minor medical procedure. I would rather be in a room with Cancer Alley.

Like Pam Falkenberg, I am always going to be a fan of doing something on whatever basis you can manage regardless. Poetry film is a powerful genre, but making events and opportunities where it can step up a level to become impactful through immersion is, for me, something to keep pushing for. Cancer Alley is to be celebrated as another stepping stone forward in presenting poetry film in more immersive and creative ways.

Moving Poems has moved and shape-shifted

…though not as much as I might’ve hoped yet. My web-design skills are rudimentary, so please be patient, but recovery continues from a malicious hack and my disastrous, panicked response to it ten days ago. I took advantage of the crisis to do something I’d been intending to do for some time now: merge the news-and-views section, formerly known somewhat confusingly as Moving Poems Magazine, with the video library into one WordPress installation under a single banner. This should mean fewer problems with the email newsletter, since we no longer have to rely on a third-party feed blender (though we may still have to relocate to Substack at some point).

I think I’ve re-created all the posts I inadvertently destroyed, though I’m afraid a few pages may be unrecoverable.

If anyone is mad enough to want to join us as an author, get in touch. I have increasingly limited time to review videos for the site.

A snippet from Marc Neys’ film Some Facts About Paradise based on my poem of the same title, viewed at the very spot where I wrote the poem.

Nederlands Poeziefilm Festival

I first visited the Netherlands in the early 1990s on a field trip with my Typography & Graphic Communication degree. Over the course of two field trips we were lucky to take during the course, we also visited Belgium, Germany and Italy. We really got the feeling that the Netherlands values design and creative output perhaps more than the rest of Europe and my own UK. Over the years since, my impression hasn’t really changed.

The Nederlands Poeziefilm Festival has been running for a couple of years so far. It is Netherlands focussed and not international. I’m sure if you’re from the Netherlands you will know it already or will want to check it out. The 2024 edition will be 8-9 November this year.

But I would also encourage all curators and festival organisers to have a look at the website and programme, and infer (if you don’t speak Dutch and are relying on Google translate) what Hans Heesen, Helmie Stil and Lex Veerkamp are achieving with their festival in a small country with a niche genre.

I’m sure it is still not easy to achieve,  but it’s exciting to see what the possibilities might be given a positive following wind.

Calls for work: latest round-up

I’ll illustrate this round-up with a trailer excerpt from a personal favourite that I saw this week from the online Juried Selections at REELPoetry Festival in Houston. I Dream my Dream by Monique van Kerkhof and Bo Oudendijk.

Dreaming about showing your work? From Australia to Mexico and other points in between, there are film festivals that are awaiting poetry films. Recent posts here on Moving Poems have included Drumshanbo, Resonans, and Maldito, and these are still open, as well as Midwest which was listed back in January.

In Australia there is a new poetry film festival to be held in conjunction with the Poets on the Mountain Festival and they are looking for Australian poetry films and Australian Bush Poetry films. Deadline 30 June.

La Poesia Che Si Vede is an international competition for poetry films based in Ancona, Italy. The organisers say that “poetry film for La Poesia che si vede is total poetry, without discrimination of genre or format”. Deadline 27 May.

Fotogenia in Mexico City has been running for 6 years. It has a varied programme that includes categories such as avant-garde feature films and video art, with a specific film poetry category. They do have a number of specific rules though – do check carefully. These include mandatory Spanish subtitles if your film is to be shown in the in-person screening, and that films cannot be shown online at any other public website. Deadline 31 July.

Poetry Film at UK’s Lyra Bristol Poetry Festival

The Lyra Bristol Poetry Festival is due to begin on 12th April.  Do check out our full programme as we have so much going on!

We have two poetry film events which I would love you to be able to see.

If you can’t be in Bristol many of our events, including the Zebra screening, will be live-streamed. Our ‘festival digital pass’ is only £15 and you will be able to view the events online.

The first poetry film event is Cancer Alley, the poetry film immersive hologram which is going to be screened at The Watershed 18-21st April from 10-5pm.

Cancer Alley is an immersive poetry film hologram which features environmental destruction in ‘Cancer Alley’, Louisiana, the heart of the Global petrochemical industry. The project draws attention to the need for multinational companies to take more responsibility for their impact on the environment and the growing public awareness of how people’s lives are affected by extreme pollution. Cancer Alley is free, and is available to view at the Watershed 17-21st April on a continuous loop.

Cancer Alley has been created by poet Lucy English, US filmmakers Pamela Falkenberg and Jack Cochran, and Bristol based company Holotronica.

The second is the curation of films by the Zebra Poetry Film Festival on Saturday 20th April at The Watershed 3-4pm. Haus für Poesie presents a selection of the best films from the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival. The programme shows short films on the subject of “Poetry and Technology”. On the one hand, the poetry films are technically extremely sophisticated or deal with topics such as artificial intelligence, algorithms and social media. The films are based on poems by Jörg Piringer, Raed Wahesh and Yehuda Amichai, among others.

Presented by Thomas Zandgiacomo Del Bel, who will join us for a special in-person Q&A all the way from Berlin.

I look forward to seeing you at the festival in person or virtually! Here’s the link.

Call for work: Drumshanbo 2024

The 3rd Annual Drumshanbo Written Word Poetry Film Competition is now open for entries on Film freeway at https://filmfreeway.com/DrumshanboWrittenWordPoetryFilmCompetition Drumshanbo in County Leitrim, Ireland, a beautiful lakelands town hosts an annual literary festival in August. The festival brings together some of Ireland’s finest writers and poets. As part of this they host an annual poetry film competition open to all. Each year there is an evening where shortlisted films are screened as part of the opening ceremony.

Shortlisted films will be shown on Friday 23rd Aug 2024. There will be a 1st Prize of €500 Films of up to 10 minutes are welcome.

International Video Poetry Festival program set

In my recent round-up of where to watch poetry films this month, I forgot to include Athens! The International Video Poetry Festival, as it’s called these days, organized by +The Institute [for Experimental Arts], is in its 11th incarnation.



Free Self Organized Theatre Empros
Riga Palamidi 2- Psiri – Athens Greece

International Video Poetry Festival celebrates eleven years of creative collaboration with more than 2000 artists from 85 countries in general, a world of poetic visions for the benefit of humanity. Poetry, cinema, music and spoken word come together to communicate the inspiration, dreams, ideas and hopes of all of us.

We welcome you to this magical world.

Click through for the list of countries and filmmaker/poets (also on Facebook) as well as information on the workshop and lecture scheduled for Saturday the 20th. I’m so happy this festival continues to be held.

Call for work: RESONANS

A Copenhagen-based festival focusing on the poetics of nature and the environment is open for submissions.

RESONANS: A Fringe of Nature and Culture

(Previously known as the Nature & Culture International Poetry Film Festival)

This festival focuses on the poetics of nature and environment, and takes place annually in Copenhagen, Denmark (with headquarters in Sweden and Finland for smaller features) as well as an online festival which is of free access at poeticphonotheque.com during the festival dates.

The Organizers:

The Poetic Phonotheque started in 2020 as an audio collection of poetry from all over the world which now counts with over 500 adiovisual poems in all languages and an international permanent collection of poetry films. The Poetic Phonotheque is managed by Red Door Gallery in Copenhagen, which also counts with its own magazine www.reddoormagazine.com since 2009.

In 2021, Kulturhuset Islands Brygge (Copenhagen, Denmark) became the official home of the Poetic Phonotheque, to house its audio collection and launched a second round of poetry open calls to collect audio poetry recordings in every language with the theme of climate, sustainability, nature, and our planet’s preservation as the focus.

In 2021, Kultivera, a cultural organization in the city of Tranås, Sweden, also became headquarters of the Phonotheque for that country.

In 2022, the screening location of the festival was Husets Biograf, a cultural centre located at Rådhusstræ 13 in central Copenhagen, Denmark.

In 2023, Bokens Hus, in Turku, Finland, joins the team as Finnish headquarters, collaborators and mapping team.

In 2024, Empire Bio in Copenhagen joins as the screening location for the 4th edition of the festival.

We invite you to submit your films on this important subject, whether they’re animation, short film, poetry film, experimental, or documentaries. A focus on the NATURE & CULTURE (humanity’s connection with our environment) is encouraged.

Poetry films are invited to remain as part of the permanent video collection of the Poetic Phonotheque. We encourage BIPOC and LGBTQ+ creators to submit their work.

It’s €10 to submit (Student: €6) and the deadline is May 31. Visit FilmFreeway for rules and terms. Browse the growing library of films at The Poetic Phonoteque.

Lit. Collage: A festival for poetry and collage in Weimar

A new press release from the folks behind the Weimar Poetry Film Festival notes that

With »Lit. Collage« we are setting a special emphasis this year. Paired with the Film Festival, the Collage and Poetry Festival is meant for anyone who enjoys experimenting with cutting and assembling techniques and sharing them with others. […]

This year 479 films from 51 different countries were submitted for the 9th Weimar Poetry Film Award. The award ceremony will take place on June 1st at the Lichthaus Kino in Weimar. Stay tuned for more information about our official selection!

Workshops and events

We invite you to participate in several workshops in April. The courses are led by the Weimar animation artist Franka Sachse, the Berlin Poetry Slam pioneer Bas Böttcher and the Weimar musician Kay Kalytta. Poems by the Belarusian poet Volha Hapeyeva, the Colombian author Ramona de Jesús and the Weimar writer Gisela Kraft (1936–2010) serve as inspiration and source material.

The results of the workshops will be presented on various occasions in May.


13.04. & 14.04.
Stop motion workshop with Franka Sachse
ACC Galerie, Burgplatz 1

Text collage workshop with Bas Böttcher
LiteraturEtage, Marktstr. 2-4 (OG)

26.04 & 27.04.
Sound collage workshop with Kay Kalytta
Klangradar Weimar, Fuldaer Str. 185

The entry fee is 30 euros per workshop (including festival pass for the Poetryfilmtage on 31st May/1st June).
Registration via mail: info@literarische-gesellschaft.de
For more information, click here


Exhibition opening „Drehmoment“ by Aline Helmcke
LiteraturEtage, Marktstr. 2-4 (OG)

Silent Party
ACC Galerie, Burgplatz 1

Lit.Collage. Poetry, Performance, Film
Mon ami, Großer Saal, Goetheplatz 11

Poetryfilmtage / Award ceremony of the 9th Weimar Poetry Film Award
Lichthaus Kino, Am Kirschberg 4

Visit their website for detailed descriptions of the April workshops for Stop-Motion, Text-Collage, and Sound-Collage.

Where to watch poetry films in April

April is Poetry Month in the U.S. and Canada, so it’s no surprise that a couple of major poetry film festivals are held then. First up: Houston’s REELPoetry Festival.

Online April 1-5, 2024
In Person April 6-7, 2024
922 Holman St, Houston, TX 77002
REELpoetry/HoustonTX 2024 is an international poetry film Festival. This week long event showcases 100+ screenings under 6 minutes from 20 different countries. Connect with international curators and presenters in real time online, and in-person on the weekend; watch world premieres from Houston creatives; experience ASL poetry and performances; join use for two fabulous after parties.

Then toward the end of the month, it’s Seattle’s Cadence Video Poetry Festival.

Verse meets visuals in motion at Northwest Film Forum (NWFF) in April 2024. Cadence Video Poetry Festival, presented by Northwest Film Forum, programmed in collaboration with Seattle author Chelsea Werner-Jatzke and intermedia artist Rana San, is a series of screenings, workshops, and discussions on the genre of video poetry, taking place annually during National Poetry Month. This year’s festival takes place in-person April 19–21 and online April 19–28. Cadence approaches video poetry as a literary genre presented as visual media, cultivating new meaning from the combination of text and moving image.

In its seventh year, Cadence Video Poetry Festival remains the only festival dedicated to the form in the Pacific Northwest. The festival program includes four themed screenings with works selected from an open call for submissions, including video poetry by the 2024 screening team and jurors.

“This year, we did away with the submission categories the festival has had in place for the last six years. Moving away from submissions organized by how they were made (collaboration, video by poets, etc) places further emphasis on what is being made in the video poetry genre,” says co-director Chelsea Werner-Jatzke. “For the first time, a screening team of prior Cadence Artists-in-Residence helped program the festival, broadening the diversity of perspectives considering the video poetry that is screened as part of Cadence.”

“The 2024 festival includes video poems from 20 countries in 11 languages with a strong Pacific Northwest contingent, a quarter of the works representing artists based in Washington, British Columbia, and Montana,” notes co-director Rana San. “In conjunction with the online and onsite festival screenings and workshops, there will be gatherings for artists and audiences to connect in-person and virtually. We’re also collaborating with Frye Art Museum again to host a special satellite screening and artist discussion in May following the fest.”

Meanwhile, in Weimar, Germany, though details so far remain scant, one is advised on the Poetryfilmtage Instagram account to

SAVE THE DATES – Lit.Collage x Poetryfilmtage 2024

This year we are setting with „Lit.Collage“ a special accent. The collage and poetry festival is combined with our film festival and is meant for those who enjoy experimenting with editing techniques and sharing them with others.

…so as you can see: this year we have a lot more action going on and you can join our festival from the 13th of April till the 1st of June. Make sure you’ll save the dates! 🤩

More details on the individual events will follow soon.

It’s great that people anywhere in the world with a good internet connection can virtually attend these festivals, but I am just as excited by another new trend: more and more general poetry festivals are including film and video in various innovative ways. In Madison, Wisconsin, for example, the Hawthorn Public Library will be screening “some of our favorite video poems featured in the first four years of the Midwest Video Poetry Fest,” and in Newtown, Pennsylvania, poet Vasiliki Katsarou will be screening her feature film Fruitlands 1843. So be sure to support your local poetry scene!

Open call: Maldito Festival de Videopoesía 2024

Spain’s MALDITO FESTIVAL DE VIDEOPOESÍA has just announced open calls for its International Videopoetry Contest (short films) — guidelines here [PDF] — and its International Poetic Film Showcase (medium- to full-length films) — guidelines here. Maldito is

an international videopoetry contest that has been held in Albacete (Spain) since 2017.

MALDITO FESTIVAL launch this contest with the purpose to show two disciplines that, either individually or collectively, are much more isolated and forgotten as we would like. According to our experience, these disciplines are considered marginal and minor in the extent of the great European capitals, moreover, in the humble towns within regional borders where its dissemination is nonexistent.

MALDITO seeks to vindicate video poetry as an art that connects people, transmits feelings and stimulates different ways to see the world. It is also a tiny contribution of enormous people to empower visual art, stopping it from being marginal and damned*.
(* The Spanish word for damned is MALDITO).

The festival is organized by non-profit Association Cultural Maldito; formed by a small team of professionals from the film industry, poetry and culture in general.

MALDITO Crew, as lovers of poetry, image and the expressive possibilities of its symbiosis, we pick up the baton and propose to continue the line of action, encouraging their approach to the public, either with the festival events or the educational activities that we carry out.

The festival will be in November 11-17. The deadline is July 10.

Festival circuit round-up

It’s the New Year and perhaps a good time to be thinking about film festivals and competitions. Is this the year you will enter for the first time? Or to bring an, as yet, unseen project to light? Or to think about what new films you might create in 2024 …

But first, with a quick pause for thought (or maybe to take the actions suggested) – here is a throwback to a lovely little film posted on Moving Poems way back in 2012.



And now, here are the major festivals for poetry films coming up for entry (linked to their FilmFreeway page where you will find more details). Some were first posted earlier when the calls initially went out (but a reminder that the deadline is coming up closer), and others are fresh!

Remember to check all the rules of entry carefully to make sure you comply (or it is just irritating for the organisers), and make your own judgements on whether to enter.  These are all established events, but be aware that there are some dodgy festivals out there that have little merit in getting your film exposed to an interested audience but will take hefty sums in entry fees.

No need to rush it either … festivals and deadlines are an ongoing roll, and if you miss one, there will always be another festival or another year that comes along. Often there is a long or an unlimited timeframe in which a completed film will be eligible, and no impact if you don’t get on the case immediately.

Read more about entering festivals in this past interview with Adam Stone on Moving Poems.

Wishing everyone good luck in 2024!