~ Filmmaker: Callum Rice ~

Mining Poems or Odes by Robert Fullerton

Working-class voices are all too rare in poetry, so I’m delighted to be able to share this profound and lyrical documentary by Callum Rice in which Glaswegian poet Robert Fullerton reflects on how his approach to writing was shaped by his experiences as a welder. It was featured three years ago in Aeon (which I clearly don’t read faithfully enough) in partnership with the Scottish Documentary Institute, which produced it. Thanks to a Facebook friend, Luis Andrade, for alerting me to the post:

The Scottish poet Robert Fullerton is a former shipyard welder who was an apprentice when he found his love of books thanks to his mentor. Drawing inspiration from the sparks that he imagines as ‘wee thoughts, or wee possibilities, or wee ideas’, Fullerton began crafting poems while working at the shipyard, finding his dark, solitary days provided the ‘perfect thinking laboratory’ for mining words. Like its subject, Mining Poems or Odes finds beauty in language and in the docks of Glasgow, combining Fullerton’s thoughts on mining and lyrical readings of his poetry with scenes from the Govan shipyard’s distinctly working-class milieu. This celebrated short documentary by the Scottish filmmaker Callum Rice played at the Sundance Film Festival in 2016 and won a BAFTA Scotland award for best short in 2015.

See the film’s page on the Scottish Documentary Institute website for a complete list of awards and screenings (which don’t include any poetry film festivals, sadly). Mining Poems or Odes was Callum Rice’s first film, as a newly minted graduate of the Glasgow School of Art.

I love how Fullerton identifies mining as a root metaphor for artistic discovery. There’s no ignoring—nor should we want to ignore—the nitty-gritty, industrial or post-industrial reality underpinning our civilization. After several days’ wrestling with the nitty-gritty of modern web-hosting technology as I moved Moving Poems and Moving Poems Magazine to a new host with SSL, this was just the film I needed to watch.