~ Nationality: U.K. ~

Cathedrals by Salena Godden + The Tyger by William Blake

British author and performance poet Salena Godden reads “Cathedrals” from her just-published collection With Love, Grief and Fury in a video from the production company STORYA. This is not a book trailer, however, but something new to me: a museum exhibition trailer in the form of a videopoem!

The exhibition is William Blake’s Universe at the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge, UK., and the museum also worked with STORYA and Godden on a more conventional video trailer: a reading of Blake’s most famous poem, “The Tyger” which I’ll append below. But they had the sense to include Salena’s own, personal reactions to Blake and the exhibition at the end of that trailer, and then—or perhaps from the inception—they had the brilliant idea to ask her to read a poem of her own, placing her in conversation with the poet whose multimedia works are the focus of the exhibition.

STORYA is Lucy Andia and Frederick Shelbourne, both profiled on their About page. They say they specialize in videos about artists and exhibitions, and in fact their filming of “The Tyger” is one of the two highlighted projects on their website:

To coincide with the Fitzwilliam Museum’s exhibition, William Blake’s Universe, we were commissioned to create a film. The brief? Capture the exhibition’s striking design and draw inspiration from Blake’s powerful poetry.

Salena Godden, a poet deeply inspired by Blake’s rebellious spirit and unwavering dedication to creativity, was the perfect choice for a reading. Her selection: the iconic poem, The Tyger. Through creative brainstorming sessions, our team identified fire as the poem’s central element to visualise.

Flickering lights and shadows of tigers and foliage were used to create an immersive atmosphere surrounding Salena’s reading. This museum film, a testament to the power of collaboration, is the result of many creative minds coming together.

Godden has a whole blog post about the shoot, full of photos—check it out. As she notes, “Radical British poet, painter and visionary William Blake believed in the power of art and words to bring us together.”

Symphony Jane by Rosemary Norman

A love song to the Eurasian blackbird, the American robin’s more musical cousin, this recent film from long-time videopoetry collaborators Stuart Pound and Rosemary Norman shows the power of a simple concept beautifully realized:

A poem arrives on the screen letter by letter. The image is all text with the story in the soundtrack, a blackbird’s song.

Last year, Pound and Norman came out with a print book showcasing their collaborations, Words & Pictures, available from Aspect Ratio (2 Lothair Road, London W5 4TA) for £8.50, which garnered a good review in London Grip:

Many readers will have seen and enjoyed Rosemary Norman’s poems in magazines and also observed that her bio note mentions her collaborations with video artist Stuart Pound in the making of poetry videos. These videos have been shown at festivals and other film events (including some at the BFI); but the majority of Norman’s readers will probably not have had a chance to attend one of these screenings. Fortunately it is now possible to experience a selection of Norman & Pound’s work in the comfort of one’s own home. A new book Words & Pictures contains 18 of Norman’s poems together with a number of stills from the corresponding videos and, more importantly, an internet link / QR code giving access to an on-line archive where the videos can be seen in full. This offers a simple but satisfying multi-media experience where one can enjoy the words on the page alongside (or as a curtain-raiser to) a visual and auditory interpretation.

Darkness by Ben Morgan

This delightful new animation by Suzie Hanna recreates the world of illuminated manuscripts to bring to life a text by poet and scholar Ben Morgan. Like many viewers, I’m sure, my main reference point for that sort of thing was Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but I had no trouble adjusting to this more serious and cerebral use of Medieval imagery and motifs. In fact, I found it—dare I say?—quite illuminating.

Made for an installation ‘Invertlight’ in St Peter Hungate Church Norwich in 2024, this animation of Ben Morgan’s poem imagines an encounter between Julian of Norwich, a 14th century Anchoress locked away in her cell, and her son who visits to challenge her decision to give up on the natural world. It is not known if she had children but she entered the ‘living death’ after child bearing age, and may well have been a mother before her voluntary incarceration. Julian wrote ‘Revelations of Divine Love’ the first surviving book to be written by a woman in the English language. ‘Invertlight’ is a Research project at Norwich University of the Arts that focuses on creating Art for buildings that have been changed from religious to secular use.

For more on the poet, see One Hand Clapping:

Ben Morgan is a poet and academic based in Oxford, UK. His first poetry pamphlet, Medea in Corinth: Poems, Prayers, Letters, and a Curse, was published by Poetry Salzburg in 2018. It retold the famous myth through poetic letters, spells, prayers, sonnets and songs, as well as theatrical interludes. He has also published poems in Oxford Poetry and at The Sunday Tribune and The High Window. He has taught Shakespeare studies and early modern literature at a number of colleges in Oxford and is completing a monograph on Shakespeare and human rights for Princeton University Press.

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.

Fuck / Our Future by Inua Ellams

A video made for some kind of climate series at The New York Times, locked behind the paywall, I think. My request for clarification on filmmaker(s) has gone unanswered, but it seems the result of a collaboration with the photographer named at the beginning, Josh Haner, a Pulitzer-winning feature photographer for the paper. Ellams himself also works in graphic art and design. I like how the poem’s searing language is mediated by the intimate space of an online reading, giving way to natural places and a more-than-figurative tree of life.

Earlier we shared a film by Jamie McDonald for the title poem from Ellam’s 2020 collection The Actual, among several other video interpretations of Ellams’ work. It’s fascinating to see giant legacy media organizations like the NYT and the Financial Times promote Ellams’ poetry, almost as cover for their ceaseless promotion of the planet-destroying financial and military/industrial machines.

The Lines by Andrew Motion

Suzie Hanna just uploaded to Vimeo this 2001 animation she co-directed with Hayley Winter. Live images and straight recordings interact with artifice at all levels, borrowing elements from glitch art and concrete text experiments. The former UK poet laureate Andrew Motion supplied the poem and reading, and Sebastian Castagna composed the soundtrack.

The Lines, a poetry animation, was selected for numerous festivals including Manchester Poetry Festival and Hamburg Animation Festival, it was part of a programme curated by the British Council ‘Shooting Rhymes and Cutting Verses’ which was shown all over the world to promote UK Culture. The Gene used it as visuals for a concert tour and it was shown in cinemas as part of the Sonimation project which was instigated by Suzie Hanna in collaboration with Sonic Arts Network and Digital Arts Network in 2001.

We’ve shared Hanna’s work often here. The bio on her website is worth quoting in full:

Suzie Hanna is Emerita Professor of Animation at Norwich University of the Arts. She was Chair of NAHEMI, the National Association for Higher Education in the Moving Image from 2016-2019, and remains an honorary member of the executive. She is an animator who collaborates with other academics and artists, and whose research interests include animation, poetry, puppetry and sound design. She has made numerous short films all of which have been selected for international festival screenings, TV broadcast or exhibited in curated shows. She contributes to journals, books and conferences, and has led several innovative projects including animated online international student collaborations and digital exhibitions of art and poetry on Europe’s largest public HiDef screen. She works as a production consultant and as an international academic examiner, was a member of the AHRC Peer Review College from 2009-2014, and is a longstanding member of ASIFA. She plays the violin and the musical saw.

All will be well by Jane Lovell

A new videopoem from UK poet Jane Lovell and artist Janet Lees, using some stunning underwater footage from Janet’s recent trip to the island of El Hierro in the Azores. Here’s how she captioned it on Instagram:

Feeling very muted going into this new year, hard to feel hopeful. I think this short videopoem holds a sense of solace. A deceptively simple poem by Jane Lovell, containing beautiful images and word-music, combined with footage I shot in the incomparable island of El Hierro recently, notably at Cala de Tacorón, a transformative place. I usually go for the lateral rather than the literal when putting film and poetry together, but somehow in this instance a straight translation between the elements felt right. This is part of an ongoing collaboration between the two JLs

Music is by The Duke of Norfolk.

Ten Bag of Albion by Richard Capener & Charles Putschkin

First published at Atticus Review in 2021, Ten Bag of Albion is by Charles Putschkin, a Swedish-Polish artist living in Bristol, UK, and Richard Capener, also in Bristol.

The video seems like an interwoven collaboration with each artist contributing writing and film decisions. The text is deconstructed into snatches of phrases and words within an audio mix of interesting sound textures and treatments. This is experimental film-making with text, abstraction and unexpected rhythms in the editing.

I previously shared Putschkin’s Disorderlily, a finalist in the Ó Bhéal Poetry-Film Competition in Ireland.

Careful What You Wish For Orangutan by Pete Mullineaux

Pete Mullineaux won the 2023 Poetry & Folk In The Environment competition sponsored by UK performance-poetry organization Home Stage with this highly entertaining video, a collaboration with Roj Whelan AKA The RoJ LiGht of RoJnRoll Productions in Dublin, who handled the camerawork and editing.

Sonnet 66 by Luke Kennard

Sonnet 66 is an animated film by Jamie MacDonald from a poem by Luke Kennard, commissioned by UK publishing and performance project Penned in the Margins.

The film was made to coincide with the launch of Kennard’s poetry collection Notes on the Sonnets, which went on to win the 2021 Forward Prize. A description of the collection:

Notes on the Sonnets… recasts Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets as a series of anarchic prose poems set in the same joyless house party.

The writing in Sonnet 66 is witty and elusive, and the film animation is cleverly simple. The whole is amusing and compelling in its short duration.

Two other films by Jamie MacDonald have previously featured here at Moving Poems.

Gethsemane by Toby Martinez de las Rivas

Gethsemane is one in an ongoing series of films from Jane Glennie, made in collaboration with fellow UK poet Toby Martinez de las Rivas, and Bulgarian sound artist Neda Milenova Mirova. This poem is from the collection Floodmeadow, published earlier in 2023 by Faber.

All films in the series take an experimental approach, including layered and truncated voices, gritty sound and music, and still images animated in darkly expressive ways. The three collaborators seem artistically well-matched, the writing, sound and film-making coherently meeting. Another highlight from the series is Psalm-for-the Sea, Little Sea-Psalm.

Jane Glennie currently has a solo exhibition happening over August and September in the Art at the ARB program of University of Cambridge. Gethsemane and the other films in the series form part of the exhibition, along with her award-winning Because Goddess is Never Enough.

We have previously featured several other of her films here. In addition, Jane regularly posts about film festivals and more at Moving Poems Magazine.

Hypnic Jerk by Alan Peat

Selected for the 2023 Haiku North America Haibun Film Festival. Browse the other selections.

An homage to Henri Rousseau by Austin-based collaborative filmmakers Pamela Falkenberg and Jack Cochran. The password is Hypn!c

British poet Alan Peat has won top awards in the Golden Haiku Contest, the New Zealand Poetry Society International Poetry Competition, the Otoroshi Rengay Contest, the BHS Ken and Norah Jones Haibun Award, the San Francisco International Haibun Contest, the Sanford Goldstein International Tanka Contest, the Heliosparrow Semagram Contest, and the Time Haiku ekphrastic haibun contest—all since 2021. He was one of three winners in the Touchstone Awards for Individual Haibun competition (2022). He is clearly on a roll.

Judges’ statement: “We loved this one in the way that one loves a children’s book even as an adult and can’t wait to share it with one’s own kids. It has a warm and playful feeling of familiarity, excitement, fun and fast-paced adventure. The idea of the moving layers of jungle and animations within, and the cuts to the paintings in a gallery are fabulous. Can poetry be a lighthearted and fun action movie? Yes, it can!”

Directors’ statement:

Hooked by the mention of Rosseau’s jungle in the first line of Allen Peat’s evocative and mysterious Haibun, “Hypnic Jerk,” we wondered if we could create a wholly imaginary world cut from the cloth of Rousseau’s fantastical paintings and the dream illogic of Peat’s brilliantly fragmented, hypnic poetic strategy. We had previously tried something with a similar kind of logic, when making a film based on Wallace Stevens’ out-of-copyright “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” another anything-goes kind of videopoetry project, where our method was to capture the startling images his words evoked for us using whatever crazy means necessary, and to manipulate those images in unexpected and visually poetic ways. Very early in the pre-production stages, we thought we might need to supplement Rousseau’s painted imagery with video of jungle plants shot in public conservatories and gardens in Illinois and Texas, which could be collaged to create a virtual jungle backdrop for the poem’s action. Then we we reviewed Rousseau’s body of paintings, which included a substantial number that we hadn’t seen before, and we realized we could go whole hog and construct an entirely imaginary Rousseau world by animating and collaging his painted imagery, coupled with an evocative soundscape score composed almost entirely from natural sounds.