~ Filmmaker: Helen Dewbery ~

Endlings by Angela France

UK poet Angela France reads her poem “Endlings” in a film directed by Helen Dewbery for Nine Arches Press. “Endlings” was nearly the title poem for France’s latest collection, Terminarchy (2021), as she noted in an interview:

I came across the word ‘endling’, which means the last of any species, a while ago. For a long time this collection was going to be titled ‘Endling’ but then a poet in the USA brought out a collection with that title and there is also a series of fantasy books and a computer game called endling. The other word for the last of a species is ‘terminarch’. I didn’t like terminarch as much at first, it had an ugly sound to my ear. Adding a ‘y’ softened the sound and suggested a different direction; we are used to talking about patriarchy, monarchy, oligarchy, perhaps we should think about whether we are heading for terminarchy.

I liked the sound of the word endling but also thought a lot about what it means to be the last. The strongest, most urgent drive in nature is to reproduce so an endling is driven into hopelessness. The endlings in the poem ignore their prey because of that ‘older, greater need’ and only find release, and peace, in death. 

I suspect most of us could name at least a couple of extinct animals, such as the Tasmanian Tiger (the thylacine) but when I started researching the species lost in the last few years, I was astonished, and saddened, at the number of them. Some of the names were just wonderful, such as the ‘Gloomy tube-nosed bat’ and the ‘Darling Downs hopping mouse’. They didn’t find their way into this poem but they have remained in my memory, perhaps for another time. There is a very particular grief, for me, in discovering these things after they have left us.

The form of the poem is a loose terza rima, with slant rhyme. I like this form because of its subtle music and also because the interlocking rhyme scheme can have the effect of looking back while stepping forward. I usually prefer slant rhyme because I find full rhyme can fall very heavily on the end of the line unless it is used with great skill. 

I feel I should explain something about Sparrow who appears at the end of this poem. William Sparrow was a historical character in my last book, The Hill. He was one of the ringleaders of the local riots over the closure of rights of way on the hill, in 1902. He was a road-sweeper and was literate, witty, and furious, writing daily letters to the newspapers. He has insisted on having a voice in this book but he is not now William Sparrow. He is not Sparrow the man, nor is he sparrow the bird, but something else entirely and he speaks up in a few poems through the book. I am not sure what he is except that he seems to take the role of an ecological conscience. Here, he weeps for all we have lost and are losing, the hopelessness of not having an ark. 

In Conversation – Angela France

Recusio Redacted by Jacqueline Saphra

Recusio Redacted is a film by Helen Dewbery, from a poem by Jacqueline Saphra. The poem appears in the collection Dad, Remember You Are Dead, published by Nine Arches Press.

Helen will be familiar to followers of Moving Poems from her earlier films previously shared here. Aside from being a marvelous film-maker, she is co-editor with Chaucer Cameron of the online journal Poetry Film Live.

Jacqueline Saphra is a playwright as well as a poet. Her writing has been shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot prize, among other honours. She lives in London and teaches at The Poetry School.

Song of the Soil by Jessica Mookherjee

Jessica Mookherjee‘s poem “Song of the Soil”, from her collection, Tigress (Nine Arches Press, 2019), is given heartfelt filmic treatment by Helen Dewbery and Chaucer Cameron, under the auspices of their production house, Elephant’s Footprint. According to the book’s webpage,

Jess Mookherjee is of Bengali heritage and grew up in Swansea. She has been widely published in magazines, including Under the Radar, Agenda, The North, Rialto, Antiphon and Ink, Sweat & Tears. She is author of The Swell (Telltale Press) and Joyride (Black Light Engine Room Press) and Flood (Cultured Llama). She was highly commended in the Forward Prize 2017 for best single poem. Jessica works in Public Health and lives in Kent.

The poem expresses a deep connection to the Earth in an elegy of lost origins and disappearing ground. Giving further voice to these themes, the film is imbued with overexposed images of a natural world scorched yellow and burnt brown, and a soundtrack made ominous by ambient bass. Mookherjee’s solemn, rich narration rounds the elements of this powerfully organic piece.

The film is part of a series Helen and Chaucer have been doing for Nine Arches Press. They note that “The film-poems are not only viewed by Nine Arches’ existing readers and online audiences, but are a tool for their poets to engage more easily with their existing and new audiences.” The press, however, does not appear to embed any of the videos on the books’ pages, which is kind of baffling.

Poem in which we hear the word ‘drone’ by Josephine Corcoran

This is the latest in a series of videos by Helen Dewbery and Chaucer Cameron for collections of poetry from Nine Arches Press, which just celebrated its tenth birthday with the publication of the book excerpted here: What Are You After? by Josephine Corcoran. (It’s a lovely collection, incidentally; I just bought a copy and began reading it yesterday. Always good to support a fellow blogger and late bloomer!)

Terms and Conditions by Tania Hershman

A videopoem by Helen Dewbery and Chaucer Cameron for the title poem from Tania Hershman‘s debut poetry collection with Nine Arches Press. A song by Tania’s brother Nick Hershman, “You Get What You Deserve”, is also incorporated into the soundtrack, and the interplay between the two texts is part of what makes this work so well, I think.

The Future is Here by Bianca Stone

“Nothing bad can touch this life I haven’t already imagined.” This stunning black-and-white poetry film from UK filmmaker Helen Dewbery and US poet Bianca Stone should serve as a reminder—if any were needed—of the power of international collaboration on this day when the advocates for Little England seem to have triumphed. The poem is from Stone’s 2014 collection Someone Else’s Wedding Vows. Colin Heaney composed the music.

The Litany of the Saints by Lucy English

A film by Helen Dewbury for poet and poetry-film expert Lucy English‘s Book of Hours project, a “contemporary digital re-imagining of a Book of Hours,” according to English’s (non-public) postings on Facebook. Marc Neys A.K.A. Swoon has also made films for the project, and apparently other filmmakers have pledged to contribute as well. Eventually all the films are to be featured on a dedicated website. I’ll be sure to link to it when it goes live.

Inside and Out by Anna-May Laugher

A new film by Helen Dewbery using a text by the French-British poet Anna-May Laugher, with music by Kevin MacLeod. According to the credits, it was “created as part of a elephantsfootprint workshop led by Helen Dewbery and Chaucer Cameron with thanks to Hilda Sheehan for inviting us to be part of Poetry Swindon”. For more on Elephant’s Footprint, see their website and Vimeo page.

The High Hills Have a Bitterness by Ivor Gurney (2)

“As part of Bristol Poetry Festival 2014, Liberated Words Poetry Film Festival asked for films on the theme of Gloucestershire WWI poet Ivor Gurney’s The High Hills Have a Bitterness, to commemorate the anniversary of the 1914-18 war,” notes the Vimeo description. I posted one of the other submissions, by Othniel Smith, last June. This one is by Helen Dewbery. Animated text, layered images and industrial soundtrack all come together very well. The Liberated Words description continues:

This film brings out the sense of loss: loss of self, the environment and industry. The quarries of the Mendip Hills, many of which are long gone and are now geological sites of Special Scientific Interest, are places to reflect on the ‘soul helpless gone’. The active quarries are used for road construction and other building work. It doesn’t take an expert to realise that they too will one day run out.

Helen is an associate member of the Royal Photographic Society and works in collaboration with poets to produce film poems and collections and images.

Red Kites at Uffington by Martin Malone

A wonderful poem and film from Martin Malone (text) and Helen Dewbery (film and production), with music by Colin Heaney.

Kobe by Chaucer Cameron

A film about the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995 from Elephant’s Footprint—the collaborative team of Chaucer Cameron and Helen Dewbery, with Cameron contributing the poem and the two of them co-directing.

Take Me to the City by Lucy English

A film by Helen Dewbery, whose film and video poetry website with poet Chaucer Cameron is the latest addition to the Moving Poems links page: Elephant’s Footprint. Check it out. Dewbury’s bio there suggests why she might’ve been drawn to the imagery of the poem:

I grew up near Kingston Upon Thames and spent time living and working in London where I photographed urban and suburban landscapes and became fascinated by the juxtaposition of the green spaces in London’s Royal Parks, the dark muddy grey-brown waters of the Thames and the rolling chalk downs, flower rich grasslands, acid heaths and ancient woodlands of the Surrey hills.

I then moved to Pembrokeshire where I lived for 17 years spending time travelling through the Pembrokeshire countryside. It was these surroundings that inspired me to engage with the art of photography, drawn by the beautiful wild dramatic landscape with gorse strewn hedgerows, Campion covered coast paths and the moody moor land of the Preseli Mountains. These separate but interrelated landscapes played a significant role in my creative process.

The poet, Lucy English, is one of the co-founders of the Liberated Words festival. Visit her own website at lucyenglish.com. The reading is by Hebe Reilly. Megan Palmer is the actress.