~ Liberated Words Poetry Film Festival ~

Call for poetry films: Liberated Words at Bath Fringe Festival 2016


Utopia / Dystopia

Dance and Freedom

Liberated Words at Bath Fringe Festival 2016

Entry submission deadline 31st March, 2016.

The Utopians wonder how any man should be so much taken with the glaring doubtful lustre of a jewel or a stone, that can look up to a star or to the sun himself; … who hide (a precious stone) out of their fear of losing it … If it should be stole the owner … would find no difference between his having or losing it, for both ways it was equally useless to him … or how any should value himself because his cloth is made of a finer thread; for how fine soever that thread may be, it was once no better than the fleece of a sheep, and that sheep, was a sheep still, for all its wearing it. (Thomas More, Utopia, 62–64)

Liberated Words logoTo commemorate the 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s Utopia, Liberated Words will be hosting two poetry film screenings alongside exciting performance poetry on 26th May and 2nd June at Walcot Chapel, Bath. These events will be part of The Utopia/Dystopia-themed Bath Fringe Festival, 2016. We are requesting poetry film submissions of up to three minutes in length for two categories: Dance and Freedom and Utopia/Dystopia. The dance poetry films will include a unique collaboration between Bath Dance College, Radstock and creative writing and media students from Somervale School, Midsomer Norton. The Utopia/Dystopia screening will include breakthrough films by gifted teenagers from Butterflies Haven in Keynsham.

For further details and entry form please follow this link: http://liberatedwords.com/call-poetry-films-2016/

Poetry film festival news: upcoming screenings and calls for submissions

The autumn months may be the prime time for poetry film festivals, but two festivals are hosting special screenings in early March. On March 5, UK’s Liberated Words Poetry Film Festival will be reprising many of its 2014 selections in a two-hour screening called “Reflections” at The Little Theatre Cinema in Bath, as part of the Bath Literature Festival. “First shown in September at The Arnolfini, Bristol we are now including a new film from Bath Spa University students entitled Mesmorism,” says Lucy English on the Liberated Words Facebook page, which includes the full details.

Berlin’s ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival is also on the road, but traveling a bit farther: “The Literaturwerkstatt Berlin will present the best poetry films of the ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival at the German-Russian shortfilm festival ‘Vkratze!’ in Wolgograd [Volgograd]” in Russia on March 7, says Thomas Zandegiacomo Del Bel on Facebook, sharing a link to the event page. It sounds like an interesting festival over-all, “dedicated to the interaction of Germany and Russia in the field of short film as well as the involvement of young filmmakers and the audience in a diversified festival context.” The ZEBRA screening will include films from all over the world, but with a particular emphasis on Germany and Russia, as I understand it.

(The ZEBRA folks are unusually active in pursuing international screening opportunities; be sure to join their Facebook page and/or group if you want to make sure to stay informed about all of their activities. I don’t always get around to linking them here.)

Yet another Facebook page, the Filmpoem group, is my source for the next tidbit: Alastair Cook posted that

Filmpoem will be doing an open call for this year’s festival and events around the UK, opening on the 1st March and closing on the 1st May. This year we’ll do a digital as well as hard copy call, you may be relieved to hear! First event? Hidden Door in Edinburgh, home turf for once! We’re on Sunday 24th May. Get your tickets sorted, this one will be big!

See the Hidden Door website for more info on that event. And if you’re a filmmaker or videopoet, get ready to submit not only to Filmpoem but also to Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival in Worcester, Massachusetts. Submissions open on 27 February—next Friday—for its 2015 festival. See the Rules page for complete details. It looks as if they’ll be continuing their unique focus on poets as active filmmakers:

The work must be the submitter’s original work: the poetry must be by the submitter, and that person should be directly involved in the process of making the video. We want you to make the video, not hire someone else to make it. This is not to say that we think asking for help is a bad thing – we think teaming up is super, actually. Just, you know, respect the spirit of this thing, and don’t buy it, make it. If you’re a filmmaker making a video for a poet, you should submit together as a team. Just make sure the poet has a part in this filmy business other than just handing you the poem, natch.

Videopoetry and feminism: an interview with Penny Florence and Sarah Tremlett

The first five minutes of the October 14 ScreenSister podcast features an interview with radical filmmaker Penny Florence and Sarah Tremlett of Liberated Words Poetry Film Festival, recorded during the festival.

I loved this bit from Florence:

[The screening Tremlett curated] was a revelation for me, actually, because I’d been plowing a lonely furrow on my own for quite a long time until I got involved in digital poetry. Digital poetry seems to me to be really important because, just by the possibility to work digitally, it changes what poetry is.

I find this very exciting in feminist terms, because feminism, importantly, has to find ways of saying things that have not been said before, of making silence speak.

The interviewer asks if digital poetry is a medium that suits women in particular. Florence responds:

Yes I do. And I think it’s much more interesting than some of the ways in which we used to understand working collectively. The individual voice got subordinated. And in art that won’t do.

I like the stress they put on the unique accessibility of videopoetry and other digital media to a wider field of contributors, including young people in workshops and other new filmmakers. This certainly jibes with my own experience and observations. While there will of course always be room for highly professional filmmakers, at this stage they don’t yet dominate the field — and may never, given the continual progress of media creation tools toward user-friendliness.

As Tremlett says, you can check out the Liberated Words account on Vimeo and the Liberated Words website for growing archives of films and videos screened at the Bristol-based festival.

Liberated Words offers unprecedented online access to the content of its festival

Liberated Words logoPoetry film festivals vary tremendously in their web presence, some little more than a Facebook page or a mention on the website of a related organization. Given that many are run by just one or two over-worked volunteers, it’s not surprising that putting content on the web would take a back seat to the immense logistical challenges of soliciting and judging submissions and planning the actual, meat-space festival. But for those with paid staff, interns, and/or crazy people who never sleep, bigger things are possible. I’m not sure whether that characterization applies precisely to the organizers of the Bristol, UK-based Liberated Words Poetry Film Festival, which just wrapped up its third annual event this weekend, but they are definitely raising the bar on how poetry film festivals share information and content.

First, information. For the second year in a row, Sarah Tremlett and Lucy English have produced a lengthy (58-page), full-color brochure and published it online via Issuu. (See also the 2013 brochure.) Illustrated by stills from the films and photos of some of the participants, the brochures contain detailed descriptions of each film and the people who made it — in many cases, information not found elsewhere in the web, to my knowledge (at least, not in English). So I learned some new things even about films and filmmakers I was already familiar with, to say nothing about work I hadn’t seen yet. This year’s brochure also includes statements from the organizers of four other, cooperating festivals: TARP, Zebra, Visible Verse, and VideoBardo. I especially appreciated VideoBardo organizer Javier Robledo’s essay (pp. 32-34), a wide-ranging exploration of where poetry film fits in the history of human use of written and spoken language, moving images, and audiovisual media.

As for the films, 21 of them have now been uploaded to the Liberated Words account on Vimeo. I’m not sure why they switched from YouTube, where the 2013 festival films are archived — possibly because so many professional filmmakers prefer Vimeo. But in any case, I applaud their decision to upload their own copies to the web rather than simply organize the various creators’ uploads into a channel or album. This way, their archives are secured against videos going M.I.A. (in contrast to the Moving Poems archives, as I was just complaining yesterday). Presuming the festival continues for a number of years, this online video library should become a very valuable resource indeed — especially given all the information about the films available in the brochures.

Liberated Words festival underway, and ZEBRA releases full schedule

As previously announced, Liberated Words III is spread over two weekends this year, so if you couldn’t make it to Bristol for today’s events “showcasing Memory competition finalists, commemorating the anniversary of the 1914-18 war, and entries based on Ivor Gurney’s poem The High Hills Have a Bitterness,” there’s always Sarah Tremlett’s screening of international poetry videos on the 19th and the day-long masterclass with Marc Neys on the 20th. Visit the front page of their website for the details, and if you’re on Facebook, ask to join the Liberated Words group page, so that even if you can’t make the festival, you can still participate vicariously.

Meanwhile, I see that the full schedule for next month’s ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival has been uploaded to the Literaturwerkstatt website. And Thomas Zandegiacomo Del Bel summarized the results of the competition on Facebook earlier this week:

More than 770 Submissions from 70 countries were sent in for the 7th ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival. The Programme Commission nominated 29 of them for the competition. Four prizes will be given out this year by the three-person, international jury: the ZEBRA Prize for the Best Poetry Film«, sponsored by the Literaturwerkstatt Berlin, the »Goethe Film Prize«, sponsored by the Goethe Institute, the »Ritter Sport Film Prize«, sponsored by Alfred Ritter GmbH & Co. KG (Ritter Sport Chocolate), the »Prize for the Best Film for Tolerance«, sponsored by the Foreign Office, as well as the ZEBRINO – the prize for the Best Film for Children and Young People sponsored by Berlin on bike. The prizes have a total value of €12,000.

I’m excited! This will be my first time attending the world’s premiere poetry film festival. I’ll be part of a panel discussion on October 18th, “Poetry Films in the Digital World,” focusing on “the opportunities presented by various internet platforms.” I hope to see some of you there. Here’s the 2014 ZEBRA trailer:

Speaking of opportunities presented by internet platforms, I think all poetry film festivals should release trailers on the web. I seem to recall that the Body Electric festival in Colorado had a particularly effective trailer last year.

Poetry film festival news: Liberated Words program reveals unprecedented international focus, and more

September and October are the best months for seeing poetry films on the big screen, from the UK to Germany, Argentina, Canada, and Ireland.

The third annual Liberated Words poetry film festival, scheduled for September 13th, 19th and 20th in Bristol, sounds very interesting indeed. The program is described in detail on the front page of their website, which I like — no hunting about. I’m especially impressed by the number of exchanges they’ve initiated with other poetry film festivals from around the world. On the 19th,

Sarah Tremlett, poetry filmmaker and theorist has curated a screening looking at different poetry films forms, including films not only from VideoBardo in Buenos Aires and Visible Verse in Vancouver, but exciting new collaborators Zebra, Oslo and Tarp, Lithuania, Poetry Film Festivals. In conjunction she is hosting a discussion on ‘What exactly are poetry films?’ with: Gabrielė Labanauskaitė, Adele Myers, Martin Sexton, Penny Florence, Marc Neys and Lucy English.

On the following day, one can take a day-long masterclass in poetry filmmaking with Marc Neys, A.K.A. Swoon. And the events the week before, on the 13th, reflect some highly imaginative programming as well. The day’s theme is Memory:

Showcasing Memory competition finalists, commemorating the anniversary of the 1914-18 war, and entries based on Ivor Gurney’s poem The High Hills Have a Bitterness. A very warm welcome to returning best music judges from L.A. –Rich Ferguson (mesmerising spoken word with music poet) and Mark Wilkinson (top music video and feature director), and judges for best editing –last year’s brilliant finalists and this year’s workshop leaders poet Helen Moore and filmmaker Howard Vause. See the premiere of Marc Tiley’s edited version of the extraordinary poem Dart by poet Alice Oswald; workshopped films: the groundbreaking Golden Bird Project made in conjunction with older patients from The Royal United Hospital, Bath, and Art at the Heart, with resident artist Edwina Bridgeman and art from young patients and musician in residence Frankie Simpkins; three stunning films from years 7–10 at St Gregory’s Catholic College based on the arresting poem Mametz Wood by award-winning poet Owen Sheers; and two thought-provoking films from St Brendan’s Sixth Form College, Bristol.

In other news, the aforementioned VideoBardo festival is set for September 8 in Buenos Aires, and Berlin’s ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival will take place on October 16-19, overlapping with Visible Verse — Vancouver, October 18 — and Ó Bhéal/IndieCork on October 12-19. And incidentally, the film competition for Ó Bhéal is still open until the end of September — click the preceding link for details.

Sharing poetry film festivals and exhibitions on the web: “Poems, Places & Soundscapes” points the way

All the work exhibited at the Poems, Places & Soundscapes audiopoetry and videopoetry exhibition is now on their website, for the benefit of anyone who couldn’t make it to Leicester in April. It would be great if more poetry-film screening events followed their lead. They’re even promising to post feedback and appreciation from the comments book and audio recording from an informal panel discussion held in conjunction with the exhibition.

As an exhibition rather than a festival, though, this may be something of a special case. Off-hand I can only think of three poetry film festivals whose websites archive a significant percentage of the films they’ve screened: Liberated Words (Bristol, UK), Co-Kisser (Minneapolis, US) and The Body Electric (Fort Collins, US). A more common approach is to share a list of the winning films, sometimes accompanied by screenshots. A few festivals have let their websites lapse altogether… and of course some never had a website to begin with, which is puzzling, to say the least.

It’s interesting to think about the different mind-sets that people bring to the poetry film genre(s). My own background as an online magazine editor and a poet for the page leads me to prioritize viewing videopoems/filmpoems on the web, because in part it’s so strongly parallel to the reader’s experience: it’s generally solitary, and one can go back and re-watch (re-read) as often as one likes. By contrast, people with a background in film tend to think in terms of festivals, theater runs and TV broadcasts: one-time or serial events, in connection with which the creators’ rights must be scrupulously protected. It’s to be expected, therefore, that to festival organizers, sharing screened works online must seem like a decidedly secondary affair, and potentially a bit of a hassle. But I would suggest that:

  • you can reach a larger and more diverse audience online, and at the same time generate interest in attending future events by encouraging social-media sharing of the best films;
  • many filmmakers these days are already uploading their works to video-hosting platforms as a matter of course, and in some cases only delay in posting them because film festival organizers have asked them to;
  • sharing videos online is as easy as signing up for a free WordPress.com site, posting a Vimeo or YouTube link on a line by itself (thanks to the magic of oEmbed), and enabling Twitter and Facebook sharing icons at the bottom of the post.

There is a third, major stream of influence on videopoetry, however: video art, which strikes me as uniquely well-adapted to the web since the emphasis has always been on multiple plays for a maximum number of visitors. The difference I think lies in the quality of attention we bring to exhibitions in a physical as opposed to an online gallery. But in any case, the appeal of this approach is reflected in its near ubiquity now. Video screens have spread out of the art galleries and into all kinds of other museums and exhibition spaces, even leading to hybrid festival/exhibitions where multiple screens display suites of films in continuous loops. There are of course trade-offs involved in every decision on how to present filmic work, but given that videopoetry/filmpoetry is itself a hybrid genre, doesn’t it make sense to think in terms of multiple approaches to presentation, with no single outlet—web, festival, TV broadcast, art gallery—becoming the standard?


Returning to the Poems, Places & Soundscapes exhibition, I was interested to hear that it may have succeeded in doing something that a lot of poets claim as motivation for making videos of their work: reaching a broader audience than the usual poetry scenesters and academics. In an email, co-organizer Mark Goodwin wrote:

Overall the exhibition was received very well. There is a very positive and attentive review here: http://siobhanlogan.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/word-cubes-in-wild-place.html

The final exhibition gate-count was 1026. The Phoenix said that such a count was average to good for an exhibition in the Cube Gallery in April – they had estimated that the count would be around 700. So, considering this was essentially a poetry exhibition, I feel very pleased, and would suggest that for the presentation of poetry this is a long way above the average. […]

I saw quite a few folks who otherwise wouldn’t usually take time to engage with poetry, simply become poetically sucked into elsewhere via headphones! It really doesn’t get much better than that!

Call for entries: Liberated Words III poetry film festival

Somehow I missed this back on April 1 (I blame my feed reader), but the deadline isn’t until July 30th, so there’s plenty of time to get a submission in:

Liberated Words III poetry film festival

September 2014, Bristol Poetry Festival

Call for poetry films


Following the success of Liberated Words Poetry Film Festival at Bristol Poetry Festival in October 2013 festival organisers poetry filmmaker and writer Sarah Tremlett and performance poet Lucy English welcome poetry films of 3 minutes or less to be screened at Arnolfini, Bristol as part of Bristol Poetry Festival 2014 (15–21 September 2014), with a projected further two screenings at Komedia and The Little Theatre Cinema in Bath in February 2015.

Whilst still in the process of finalising the programme (including a surprise international guest) we are pleased to announce that this year, as well as welcoming our returning US music judges Rich Ferguson and Mark Wilkinson and screening the best films from Argentina and Vancouver from our partners VideoBardo and Visible Verse, some of the events we will be showcasing are: a groundbreaking poetry film from Action on Hearing Loss and the best of young local talent through a schools’ poetry film project with last year’s prize winners Helen Moore and Howard Vause – currently featuring St Gregory’s Catholic College in Bath and St Brendan’s Sixth Form College in Bristol; providing a workshop with the international poetry filmmaker Marc Neys, and supporting commemorative events for the 1914–18 war we will also be hosting a panel discussion on the legacy of Dada and Surrealism in poetry film today.

We will also be requesting submissions for two categories:

1 Open Call on the theme of Memory

2 Commemorating the anniversary of the 1914–1918 war we are also requesting poems in response to a poet of the time – to be announced.

All accepted entries will be screened and archived on Liberated Words website. We will be presenting awards for the best editing for poetic effect and best music throughout the festival.

Submission deadline 30th July 2013. Please send to l.english@bathspa.ac.uk

Entry forms

To enter your films please download and read the Rules and Regulations then download and fill in the Entry Form and Release Form and email your submission to l.english@bathspa.ac.uk

Liberated Words CIC Rules and Regulations 2014 (click to download)

Liberated Words CIC poetry film festival release form 2014 (click to download)

Liberated Words CIC open call memory entry form 2014 (click to download)

Visit the Liberated Words website for more, including examples of films screened at last year’s festival.

The new Liberated Words Poetry Film Festival brochure: way more than just a brochure

The brochure for the second Liberated Words Poetry Film Festival (also available as a PDF download) is worth reading even if (like me) you can’t attend the festival this week in Bristol. At 67 pages, with a paragraph or two about every film to be screened, it’s way more than a brochure; it’s a book! And given the dearth of good written material on multimedia poetry, it should prove to be a very useful document going forward, a kind of snapshot of the current state of videopoetry, filmpoetry and related genres as practiced by a diverse assemblage of filmmakers from around the world, including generous selections from the Visible Verse and Videobardo poetry festivals.

Liberated Words Poetry Film Festival

3rd October National Poetry Day, The Arnolfini, Bristol Poetry Festival, 2013

Liberated Words is the home of the first annual international poetry film festival in the UK, celebrating poetry on screen in many forms, combining original and adapted written poems, with spoken word, images, music and other forms of sound effects. This is a burgeoning genre with a strong tie between music, text and image.

Founded by performance poet and novelist Lucy English (Reader in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University) and Sarah Tremlett – media poet and arts writer (PhD on media poetry at The University of the Arts, London), Liberated Words began as part of Bath Spa University’s MIX Conference, at Corsham Court, 2012 in order to bring poetry film to the general public.

Liberated Words has been invited by Colin Brown of Poetry Can to present a one day event as part of Bristol Poetry Festival on October 3rd.

At the Liberated Words Poetry Film festival there are international screenings from our partners VideoBardo in Buenos Aires and Visible Verse in Vancouver, and talks from TS Eliot prize-winning poet Philip Gross, award-winning, Bristol-based film-maker Joe Magee, animator Professor Suzie Hanna, poet David Johnson, media artist Professor Martin Rieser, and community media artist Jackie Calderwood.

This year we are presenting the finalists from two competitions – ‘Liberated Words open competition’ and ‘4 x 4’, which features new work created by an international selection of poets and filmmakers. We also have a ‘Spotlight’ section including acclaimed practitioners Tom Konyves, Machine Libertine and Jani Sipila.

For further information on Liberated Words please visit our website.

Putting the la into LA and Bristol!

We are inaugurating two awards — the best music /sound award and the best edited award. We are delighted to announce that our music judges will be LA-based spoken- word poet Rich Ferguson and film maker Mark Wilkinson — whose teamwork produced the memorable music-based poetry film Human Condition.

Dates and times:

The Liberated Words Poetry Film Festival will run from 10am-9pm on October 3rd.

The daytime session costs £5.00/ £3.00; the evening session costs £5.00/£3.00 and an all day ticket costs £8.00/£4.00. For further information on how to book a ticket, go to www.poetrycan.co.uk, e-mail boxoffice@arnolfini.org.uk or telephone 0117 917 2300.

Poetry film festivals and screenings in October

October is definitely the biggest month on the calendar for fans of videopoetry/filmpoetry, cinepoetry and animated poetry, with at least six seven major events on both sides of the Atlantic. Here’s a brief rundown:


  • Vancouver, Oct. 12: Visible Verse 2013 Festival
    “The 2013 festival will be selected from more than 200 entries received from artists around the world. As well, we are happy to host Colorado poet and filmmaker R.W. Perkins, who will give an artist’s talk on video poetry and filmmaking.”


  • Cork, October 16-20: Ó Bhéal at IndieCork
    “This is Ó Bhéal’s fourth year of screening poetry-films (or video-poems), and the first year featuring a competition.” Deadline: September 15


  • Rome, October 24-25: 4th DOCtorCLIP Roma Poetry Film Festival
    “An international jury will select a winner of the Doctorclip Award, including a cash prize, from among the ten selected videos of the contest.”



  • London, Oct. 3: National Poetry Day Live at the Southbank Centre
    “Several new Poetry Society commissions will also premiere at National Poetry Day Live: a new film-poem by Alice Oswald and Chana Dubinski explores water’s most transient states; while poets including Liz Berry and Ian McMillan have travelled the nation’s canal network with film-maker Alastair Cook.”
  • Bristol, Oct. 3: Liberated Words at Bristol Poetry Festival
    “We already have a fantastic line up of international screenings – including Maciej Piatek’s ‘Words’ from the poems of Polish immigrants, making us look twice at how we live our lives in Britain.”


  • Minneapolis, Oct. 19: Co-Kisser Annual Poetry-Film Festival at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design
    “The mission for the fest is to see how poets and filmmakers are defining the genre of poetry-films and to challenge and be inspired by any and all of these definitions.”

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.