~ Absent Voices ~

Every Memory by Sheree Mack


This is #6 in Alastair Cook‘s Absent Voices series “celebrating the legacy of the Greenock Sugar Sheds, vast Category A listed hulking relics of the sugar trade, a dark and sweet slice of Scots history.” Sheree Mack reads her poem as part of a soundtrack by Luca Nasciuti, with cinematography by Swoon (Mark Neys). This is one of several filmpoem collaborations between Cook and Neys, and you can catch both men along with Nasciuti live in London tomorrow night, February 16, as part of the London Poetry Systems anniversary bash.

Alastair Cook, Mark Neys and Luca Nasciuti are also all directors — along with yours truly — of the first Filmpoem Festival to be held in Dunbar, Scotland in early August. We’ve just posted the call.

Event review of Alastair Cook’s “Absent Voices”

Writing for the Scottish Review of Books, Theresa Muñoz reviews a live screening and performance of Alastair Cook‘s “Absent Voices” series of filmpoems. Since I’ve never personally seen a filmpoem screening done in what might be called a karaoke-like fashion, with the poet present to read the text while live musicians performed the soundtrack, I was especially interested in hearing how well these videos worked in that context.

When folk read poems, images sparked from the narrative float through their minds. Alastair Cook’s own brand of Filmpoems, whereby the poet reads his work against a running 8mm or 16mm short film, provides the audience with a firm set of visuals. It’s an intriguing art form which both expands and contracts the poem’s possibilities, as the audience tries to thematically integrate the text with the established visuals of the film (and soundtrack). The majority of Cook’s Filmpoems are lush, evocative and dark creations filmed in the derelict sugar shacks on the James Watt Dock in Greenock.

Set in the Scottish Poetry Library’s cosy downstairs area, the setting was that of a makeshift cinema. A white screen hung from the high wall. A golden clarsach, later trilled by Rita Bradd, stood in the corner. Musician Luca Nasciuti was on hand to provide a haunting soundtrack. Cook began by describing how the batch of film poems came about. Commissioned by the arts collective Absent Voices, Cook asked seven poets to contribute a work: Gerard Rudolf, Jane McKie, Brian Johnstone, John Glenday, JL Williams and Sheree Mack. The poets were each given archived pictures of the sugar industry and watched a short film about the dilapidated buildings.

Read the rest.

Yesterday’s Noise by John Glenday

Another in the Absent Voices series of seven filmpoems from Alastair Cook “focused on the celebration of the vast and semi-derelict Greenock Sugar Sheds,” as he put it in the description of a previous film. Scottish poet John Glenday reads his poem (which, I have to say, I absolutely adore).

All seven films will be premiered at the Scottish Poetry Library on December 6:

This performance event features music from Luca Nasciuti and Rita Bradd, along with readings from Vicki Feaver, Brian Johnstone, Sheree Mack and Jennifer Williams, each reading over their film to live accompaniment.

Revenant by Jane McKie

Jane McKie reads and Rebecca Joy Scharp plays the clarsach in this filmpoem by Alastair Cook. It was commissioned by Absent Voices, “a group focused on the celebration of the vast and semi-derelict Greenock Sugar Sheds,” according to Alastair’s note on the previous film in the series, “How Well It Burns” by Brian Johnstone.

How Well It Burns by Brian Johnstone

Alastair Cook writes,

How Well It Burns is the third in a series of seven Filmpoems commissioned by Alastair Cook in collaboration with Absent Voices, a group focused on the celebration of the vast and semi-derelict Greenock Sugar Sheds.

How Well It Burns is by poet Brian Johnstone, erstwhile Director of StAnza, the Scottish Poetry Festival and a widely published poet; the other poets in the series are John Glenday, Vicki Feaver, Sheree Mack, Jane McKie, Gérard Rudolf and Jennifer Lynn Williams.

The series of seven will be performed live at the Scottish Poetry Library at an event on 6th December 2012; more information and tickets here.

For more on Brian Johnstone, see his page at the Scottish Poetry Library.

The God of Sugar by Vicki Feaver

Alastair Cook‘s latest filmpoem features cinematography by James William Norton and a terrific score by Luca Nasciuti. Vicki Feaver is a highly regarded, regularly anthologized English poet with three poetry collections out.