~ Poet: Inua Ellams ~

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.

To John by Inua Ellams

A video animated and edited by Jamie Macdonald AKA Airship23 for the Financial Times:

FT Weekend Festival 2021 commissioned Inua Ellams to write a response to Keats’s classic work ‘To Autumn’ marking his 200th anniversary. The animated poem ‘To John’ exposes the impact of humans on nature over those 200 years.
Financial Times website

For more on Ellams, who’s something of a Renaissance man, do visit his website. He teamed up with Macdonald back in 2020 for the trailer for his book The Actual/Fuck.

Hat-tip to poet Josephine Corcoran for blogging the link.

The Actual / Fuck by Inua Ellams

This animated typography film by Jamie MacDonald is a trailer for Inua Ellams‘ forthcoming collection. In a blog post yesterday, he wrote:

It gives me the greatest pleasure to share with you the trailer for The Actual / Fuck. This poem is made up of all the titles in the collection, essentially a list poem in its own right. It was put together by Jamie MacDonald (who created the trailer for An Evening With An Immigrant) and shows his incredible skills and attention to detail.

Don’t forget, you can pre-order the collection right now from Penned In The Margins.

And from that latter link, here’s the publisher’s description:

The Actual is a symphony of personal and political fury — sometimes probing delicately, sometimes burning with raw energy.

In 55 poems that swerve and crackle with a rare music, Inua Ellams unleashes a full-throated assault on empire and its legacies of racism, injustice and toxic masculinity. Written on the author’s phone, in transit, between meetings, before falling asleep and just after waking, this is poetry as polemic, as an act of resistance, but also as dream-vision. At its heart, this book confronts the absolutism and ‘foolish machismo’ of hero culture-from Perseus to Trump, from Batman to Boko Haram.

Through the thick gauze of history, these breathtaking poems look the world square in the face and ask, “What the actual—?”

Dolphins (excerpt) by Inua Ellams

Inua Ellams‘ contribution to Refugee Tales, a project dedicated to “walking and sharing Tales until indefinite immigration detention ends in the UK.” The film was made by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, shot and edited by Shanshan Chen with additional camera work by Amelia Wong and original music by Paul Mottram. I found this via a post in the excellent online magazine Aeon:

‘No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.’

Occasionally, stories of refugees fleeing desperate circumstances in their home countries make the mainstream news cycle – usually following the horrifying discovery of dozens found dead in transit on land or at sea. But much more frequently, the trying and terrifying journeys of migrants to find a safer place to live go all but ignored.

Having escaped the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, Nigerian-British writer Inua Ellams knows something of the migrant experience, but he says that the nightmarish journeys of refugees is still something he can hardly fathom. Nevertheless, in Inua’s Dolphins, Ellams adds insight and artfulness to the migrant experience by transforming the stories of children who have fled their homelands into poetry, imbuing the horror with a humanity that is compassionate but clear-eyed.

New Year Philosophy #5 by Inua Ellams

Art direction and animation by Jonathan Mckee for Smile for London. Inua Ellams is a word and graphic artist from Nigeria.