~ Alastair Cook ~

Call for submissions: Filmpoem Festival 2017 at Depot, Lewes

Filmpoem Festival 2017 banner

Filmpoem, the artists’ moving image project founded by British artist Alastair Cook in 2010, is at long last sponsoring another poetry-film festival and competition, this time partnering with Depot in Lewes, East Sussex and the UK’s Poetry Society. Submissions are open through September 8th, and the festival will be held on Saturday, October 28th.

Note that the rules are a bit stricter than for most poetry-film festivals: submission is by physical artifact (USB stick or DVD) only, and explicit permission, rather than simply the blanket permission granted by a Creative Commons licence, must be obtained for all copyrighted material such as music used in the film. UPDATE: Digital submissions and CC licences are now permitted. See the complete guidelines on the Filmpoem website.

While you’re there, be sure to read the essay on the About page, which appears to have been recently augmented with new material, for a better understanding of what Alastair means by filmpoetry.

Nicknames by William Richardson

This is a great example of how a good soundtrack (here, the work of Luca Nasciuti, with voiceover by Alastair Cook) can really make a poetry film work. It’s from a new-to-me-project:

The fitba, the teams, the love for the game. Nicknames was written by William Richardson, read by Alastair Cook and filmed by Jane Groves. Nicknames was made as part of Luminate Festival’s Well Versed project. Workshops with Craigshill Good Neighbour Network were led by poet Rachel McCrum and filmmaker Alastair Cook. Nicknames was edited by Alastair Cook.


Scotland’s creative ageing festival, is held from 1st to 31st October across Scotland each year. The festival brings together older people and those from across the generations to celebrate our creativity as we age, share stories of ageing and explore what growing older means to all of us. Each year, there are activities all over Scotland – from art workshops and dance classes to music performances and authors’ events – and you will find Luminate in theatres, galleries, community halls, care homes and lunch clubs, as well as events online that take us to audiences everywhere.

The Well Versed screening was held last Saturday, apparently. The videos are now all online in the video gallery of the Luminate website.

Great introduction to film poetry… on the radio

I just listened to an excellent, 45-minute program on BBC Radio 3 called “Crossing the Border – Poetry and Film.” Though understandably UK-centric, its survey of the history of poetry films and film poetry gave due credit to early Soviet filmmakers and other international influences, and talked in some detail about the earlier conception of a film poem as simply a non-linear, lyric film. The highlight of the program for me was hearing Tony Harrison and Peter Symes explain the collaborative working process for their ground-breaking poetry films of the 1980s, articulating ideals strongly reminiscent of those of videopoetry pioneer Tom Konyves from the other side of the Atlantic. I liked the attention paid to the link between poetry film and propaganda or advertising, which is a connection I don’t see spelled out very often. And I appreciated Alastair Cook’s positive assessment of what the democratization of access to filmmaking tools in the digital age has meant to the genre and those who practice it.

The program is now available on the website (and at iPlayer), though if I’m not mistaken BBC will block access to any IPs not originating in the UK, so international listeners may have to connect through a proxy. It’s well worth the hassle. Here’s the show description:

Right from the birth of cinema, film-makers have experimented with poetry in film. Matthew Sweet explores this overlooked history.

The Russian pioneer film-maker Dziga Vertov developed his celebrated montage technique out of Mayakovsky’s poetry and the GPO Film Unit’s ‘Night Mail’ with W H Auden’s closing poem owes a good deal to these Russian experimentalists. Starting at the unlikely site of the studio where scenes from ‘Night Mail’ were shot and recorded eighty years ago, Matthew establishes this iconic film as an important blueprint for poets and film-makers since.

In recent times, the poets Tony Harrison and Simon Armitage have both made documentary films where their poems replaced conventional commentaries. Matthew hosts a reunion between Tony Harrison and his collaborator, the film director Peter Symes, as they relive the powerful moment of filming of the exhumation of a body in a Neapolitan necropolis. This moment poses core questions about film poems: what does the viewer hear and see, how do word and image relate to each other? With Simon Armitage, Matthew learns how his poetry on film gives a voice to the marginalized. Now, a burgeoning movement of experimental film-makers are creating a new space for the production, curation and distribution of film poems in festivals and in digital media, so as the mainstream media fragment, film poetry is returning to its avant garde roots as was exemplified by early film poem makers such as Germaine Dulac and Maya Deren.

Producer: Emma-Louise Williams
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 3.

For those who haven’t seen Night Mail, here’s a YouTube upload.

Ber Lin by Jonathan Tel

Jonathan Tel‘s Commended poem from the Poetry Society‘s National Poetry Competition 2014, as read by Alastair Cook in a film directed by Corinne Silva, with sound by Vladimir Kruytchev. A particular challenge for this film was how to represent the Chinese characters included in the text. I also found the low-key camera work and natural sound a good counterpoint to the poem, which takes the form of a somewhat discursive letter. The statement from competition judge Zoë Skoulding reads:

‘Ber Lin’ connects places by exploring coincidences of sound and sense. The carefulness of expression intriguingly gives the feeling of a translation, even though it is not one. This distancing effect makes us see how language is always on the move, living in juxtaposition with other languages. At the same time the poem gives a sharp sense not just of place, but place as it is imagined and remembered.

Considering that Jonathan Tel is himself American, the choice to have Alastair read it adds another layer of linguistic juxtaposition.

I see by the way that the Poetry Society has a really nice page now for its commissioned poetry films, including a sub-section for the National Poetry Competition 2014 Filmpoems, so if you’re impatient at my slow rate of sharing them here, you can go there and watch them all.

Submissions are open for Filmpoem Festival Fifteen

Filmpoem Festival 15

Reprinted from the Filmpoem website. This is the Filmpoem Festival’s third year, and it’s great to see Alastair Cook’s vision for it continue to expand and adapt. Films aren’t static, so why should film festivals stay the same? Also, kudos for giving in to poetic temptation and embracing the f-alliteration. —Dave

Filmpoem Festival Fifteen will be an open-ended series of events and screenings. After our successful Antwerp festival in 2014, we are working within the British Isles this year with The Poetry Society and a series of universities and poetry festivals, presenting Filmpoem’s established mix of poetry-film, live film performance, poets, filmmakers, and discussions.

“The combination of film and poetry is an attractive one. For the poet, perhaps a hope that the filmmaker will bring something to the poem: a new audience, a visual attraction, the laying of way markers; for the filmmaker, a fixed parameter to respond to, the power of a text sparking the imagination with visual connections and metaphor.” Alastair Cook, Anon 7 (Edinburgh, 2010).

This wonderful hybrid artform has become a great new force in the worlds of film and poetry provoking a range of terminologies: filmpoem, videopoem, cinepoem and poetry-film each reflecting different origins and schools of thought.


– Films should be no more than 15 minutes in length. If you have a particular film for consideration which is over 15 minutes, please contact us directly.

– The work should contain the full text of a poem or multiple, related poems, whether spoken or using visual text. Talking-head poems will be considered on merit but the poetry-film is a genre that encourages filmic exploration. Poetic film or poetry inspired film without words will also be accepted on merit, depending on relevance.

– Work outside the genre cannot be accepted.

– All submitted work not in the English language must contain English subtitles.

– Deadline for submissions is 1st May 2015

There are two ways to submit:


– Upload a screening quality copy of your film to http://vimeo.com. Ensure you set the privacy settings to password only and set the password to filmpoem15

– Email a digital copy of your biography, your full name and contact information to submit@filmpoem.com


– Send a screening quality copy of your film (Quicktime file – m4v or mov) on a USB stick or DVD. Please do NOT embed the film. DVDs are non-returnable but all USB sticks are returnable if you include a stamped addressed envelope.

– Include a digital copy of your biography, your full name and contact information to

Filmpoem Festival, 21 Cambridge Gardens, Edinburgh, EH6 5DH, UNITED KINGDOM


There is no entry fee.

All submissions will be considered as your screening copy so if the resolution is not sufficient, we will unfortunately not be able to screen your film.

We would encourage the use of original soundtracks wherever possible as no copyright material can be used without the express permission of the poet, musician, filmmaker and/or author.

We will consider your submission as granting us copyright permission to screen the film for the duration of the project and will retain your film for archive unless expressly instructed otherwise.

Many thanks and good luck!


Alastair Cook: A Filmpoem Ten

Some poetry films in the spirit of Filmpoem, the Edinburgh-based, international poetry, film, festival and workshop project founded by Alastair Cook in 2010. As Alastair notes on their website, “The combination of film and poetry is an attractive one. For the poet, perhaps a hope that the filmmaker will bring something to the poem: a new audience, a visual attraction, the laying of way markers; for the filmmaker, a fixed parameter to respond to, the power of a text sparking the imagination with visual connections and metaphor.” —Ed.


The Royal Oak (poem by Benedict Newbery)
Sandra Salter, 2012


Commune Présence (poem by René Char)
Maxime Coton, 2013


OUTSIDE (“A fora”) (poem by Albert Balasch)
Marc Capdevila, 2012


Regarding Gardens (poem by Simon Barraclough)
Carolina Melis, 2012


repeaT (poem by Polarbear)
Joe Roberts, 2012


The Flight into Egypt (poem by John Glenday)
Marc Neys aka Swoon, 2014



Naar Wat We Waren (poem by Eric Joris)
Lies Van Der Auwera, 2014


Beyond Words (poem by Else Beyer Knuth-Winterfeldt)
Helene-Moltke-Leth, 2014


Hare (poem by Carolyn Jess-Cooke)
Melissa Diem, 2014


Legion (poem by Allison Walker)
James W. Norton, 2013


Filmpoem at Southbank Centre in July — full schedule of events

Those who weren’t able to make it to Antwerp for the Felix Poetry Festival a couple of weeks ago will have another chance to see this year’s, traveling version of the Filmpoem Festival at London’s Southbank Centre in mid-July. Let me just paste in the description from the Filmpoem website:

Filmpoem will be partnering up with Southbank Centre to bring our own unique blend of artists films, workshops and events to the Poetry International, held from Thursday 17 July 2014 – Monday 21 July 2014. Poetry International is part of Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love – the festival features an exciting programme of free events, differently- themed weekends, performances, poetry, talks and pop-ups. Poetry International is a bold and inspiring festival of poetry, film and spoken word as part of our summer Festival of Love. For, after all, ‘at the touch of love everyone becomes a poet’ (Plato).

– Filmpoem will showcase on rotation on the screens throughout the Foyer for the entire festival! Friday 18 – Monday 21 July/ 10am to 11pm/ Presented on screen in the Foyers at Royal Festival Hall. This is a FREE event.

– Filmpoem will be judging and presenting the prizes for the SHOT THROUGH THE HEART Poetry Film Competition on Friday 18 July 2014 at 6.45pm.

– Alastair Cook will be delving a Filmpoem children’s workshop with poet Carolyn Jess-Cooke and composer Luca Nasciuti – the resulting film will be screened at 4.30pm on Saturday 19th July. This is a FREE event.

– Poetry Society director Judith Palmer and Filmpoem director Alastair Cook will present a screening of new films commissioned by Filmpoem and Felix Poetry Society in association with the Poetry Society, including the National Poetry Competition commissions and commissions from David Harsent, Michael Symmons Roberts, Helen Mort and John Glenday/ Saturday 19 Jul 2014 6.30pm. This is a FREE event.

Phew! See y’all there.

Since I’m in the U.K. this summer, I’ll be able to attend some of this myself, including the Saturday evening program, and I hope to get a chance to meet some Moving Poems readers and contributors. Come over and say hi if you see me. I’ll be the guy with the beard and the ball cap scribbling things into a pocket notebook (because, you know, I’m still too technophobic to own a mobile device).

Review of Filmpoem 2014, Antwerp in Huffington Post blog

Poet and filmmaker Robert Peake has posted a handy summary of last weekend’s Filmpoem 2014 Festival—part of the Felix Poetry Festival in Antwerp—by way of sharing the seven videos that constituted the first part of the program: “An Introduction to the Film-Poem.”

Poets, musicians and filmmakers from all over the world converged on a converted packing house in Antwerp, Belgium last Saturday for a day of gorging on film-poems. It was glorious.

While last year in Dunbar, Scotland had an element of novelty on its side, this year was carefully structured to up the ante. A group of Dutch and Flemish film-poem artists presented their work, along with the debut screening of the UK National Poetry Competition film-poems, Absent Voices films, conversations with poets in response film-poems of their work that they had just seen, and even live performances of voice and music in accompaniment to film. The scope, variety, and innovation was impressive, not to mention the roster of heavy-hitters in both the poetry and film genres.

Organiser Alastair Cook emphasised the point that the film-poem genre is an inclusive and encouraging one–suggesting that we all start somewhere, even if with the video facility on our smart phones, and start making film-poems. Particularly helpful in that regard was the first screening, an introduction to the film-poem. Luckily, most of the works that Alastair picked to illustrate the depth and range of this genre are also available online. What follows, below, are those films (recommended to view in full-screen mode).

Watch. Enjoy. Make film-poems. Perhaps I’ll see you at a film-poem festival soon.

Click through to watch the films.

Free, three-hour screening of filmpoems at Hidden Door Festival in Edinburgh, April 5

Hidden Door is a nine-day festival of art, music and poetry beginning on March 28 at Market Street Vaults, Edinburgh. It offers “FREE ENTRY to Exhibition Spaces, Project Space, Bars, Cinema” every day from noon to 6:00 PM, and this includes three, 40-minute screenings of filmpoems on the last day of the festival, April 5. Here are the details, according to the event listing on Facebook:

3pm -6pm: Alastair Cook and Luca Nasciuti are introducing, performing and talking about Filmpoem in the afternoon from 3pm – come and see previews of this year’s festivals, watch some beautiful films and enjoy the rest of the Hidden Door experience at a leisurely Saturday afternoon pace.

Filmpoem is dedicated to the filming of words and is a collaborative venture committed to attracting new audiences to new writing. Filmpoem at Hidden Door is a match made in filmic festival heaven – on Saturday April 5th, we will be bringing poets, films and performance to these great Edinburgh arches, running three forty-minute screenings:

3pm: Filmpoem Felix Screening – Curation from our archive mixed with sneak peaks at some of the work for Filmpoem in Antwerp on June 14th this year, in partnership with Felix Poetry Festival.

4pm: Filmpoem Live with Luca Nasciuti. Luca explores and performs filmic soundscapes with poetry film, with live readings.

5pm: Filmpoem Poetry Society, an exclusive curation in partnership with The Poetry Society

It’s part of a larger programme of films at the festival called Hidden Cinema — an enticing mix of animation, shorts and experimental film.

“Shot Through the Heart”: a poetry film competition from Southbank Centre

London’s Southbank Centre is holding a love-themed poetry film competition with Alastair Cook, Thomas Zandegiacomo Del Bel and Malgorzata Kitowski as judges.

Shot Through the Heart – Southbank Centre Poetry Film Competition

Friday 14 February – Friday 30 May

Calling all poets and filmmakers! Love is in the air at Southbank Centre and we want you to create poetry films that explore the joy of first love, the pain of lost love, the confusion of displaced love, the purity of platonic love, or any other kind of love.

There are two categories to enter:

Poetry films on the theme of love made for adults

Poetry films on the theme of love made for children (under 12)

Throughout the summer, Southbank Centre’s celebrates the Festival of Love. Our biennial Poetry International festival (17 – 24 July 2014) explores many different themes including the various ways in which love can impact on writers’ lives. Poetry film will be a major part of this year’s Poetry International.

A poetry film can be many different things, as Alastair Cook, Filmmaker and Director of Filmpoem Festival in Dunbar, explains –

‘A poetry film is… a single entwined entity, a melting, a cleaving together of words, sound and vision. It is an attempt to take a poem and present it through a medium that will create a new artwork, separate from the original poem.’


Shot Through the Heart Competition opens: Friday 14 February 2014 at 12noon

Shot Through the Heart Competition closes: Friday 30 May 2014 at 6pm


Southbank Centre is very keen that each submission is seen as a collaborative artwork between poet and filmmaker, so this prize is awarded jointly to the winning poet and filmmaker in each category. Poems must be by living poets and follow the copyright guidance and rules here.

Poetry films made for adults:

• Shortlisted films will be shown in Purcell Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, on Friday 18 July 2014 and all shortlisted filmmakers will be invited to the screening. The winner and a runner-up will be announced on the night.

• The winning film will receive £500 to be shared between poet and filmmaker as well as a pair of tickets each to Poetry International’s Gala Reading.

• The runner-up poet and filmmaker will receive a pair of tickets each to Poetry International’s Gala Reading.

Poetry films made for children:

• Shortlisted films will be shown in The Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre on Saturday 19 July 2014. The winner and runner-up will be announced on the night.

• The winning children’s film will receive £500 to be shared between poet and filmmaker as well as a pair of tickets each to Poetry International’s Gala Reading.

• The winning film will also be shown in Imagine Children’s Festival 2015 headlining a children’s poetry film event – this is one of our busiest festivals, attracting thousands of audience members every year.

• Both winning films will be shown at 2014’s ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival in Berlin.

There’s more.

Filmpoem news: 2014 Festival in Antwerp (call out); feature in The Third Form; Hidden Door

The Filmpoem Festival, which debuted last August in Dunbar, Scotland, will be moving to Antwerp this year in partnership with the Felix Poetry Festival. The organizer, filmmaker and artist Alastair Cook, has just posted a call for submissions [PDF]. The deadline is May 1st, and the festival will be held on Saturday, June 14th in the FelixPakhuis in Antwerp.

In other Filmpoem-related news, Erica Goss’ “Third Form” column on videopoetry this month takes an in-depth look at Alastair’s work, including some of his best films and quotes from a telephone interview. Check it out.

And finally, as it says on the Filmpoem website, “Filmpoem has been invited to close the upcoming Hidden Door festival on 5th April 2014″ in Edinburgh. Alastair made the following show reel for the event, using a text from the Scottish poet Morgan Downie:


Do join the Filmpoem group if you’re on Facebook.

Upcoming poetry film festival deadlines

2013 may be an off-year for ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival, but that doesn’t stop them from promoting other people’s festivals on their Facebook page. A recent posting listed all the upcoming deadlines for submission — something we should do here more often, as well:

The first of these, you may recall, I have some connection to as one of the directors, and I will be attending the festival in August. More about that at a later date. For now, I just want to stress that filmmakers should read the guidelines carefully. Unlike many other festivals, we only consider submissions sent via post: on a DVD, CD or memory stick, and only in .mov or .m4v form. Alastair Cook says: “We’re receiving some great poetry-film from all corners of the world. And we are so pleased to be able to screen it! Now organising the events and workshops for the festival, so pleased to have such an amazing historic venue in such a beautiful town.”

For a more comprehensive list of regular and recent poetry film festivals, see the Moving Poems Links page.