~ Liberated Words ~

Reconnections: free online screening of poetry films at Lyra Bristol Poetry Festival

Pleased to see this:

Reconnections banner

Date: Saturday 17th April 2021
Price: Free
Time: 12:00 – 1:00pm

A screening of poetry films on the theme of Reconnection, curated by Liberated Words. Reconnection to landscape, the body, our history, family and heritage, during and before the pandemic. Artists featured include Kat Lyons, Edalia Day, Rebecca Tantony, Alice Humphreys, Liv Torc, Yvonne Reddick, Helmie Stil, Helen Johnson, Sarah Tremlett, Sarah Wimbush, Isobel Turner, Edson Burton, Michael Jenkins, Pierluigi Muscolino and Francesco Garbo. Followed by a discussion and Q&A with Sarah Tremlett and Lucy English of Liberated Words.

In registering for the event, I found that I had to use a UK postcode — your mileage may vary. Get your free ticket here.

“Poetry and Climate” film screening at Lyra Bristol Poetry Festival

Lucy English and Sarah Tremlett of Liberated Words have organized a poetry film event focusing on poetry and climate on Saturday, March 14 in Bristol, UK. Tickets are free.

Curated by Liberated Words, these short poetry films will reflect on the current climate emergency as well as celebrate the natural world. Plus short discussion on the rising genre of poetry film and how artists and poets are responding to our changing environment. With Lucy English and Sarah Tremlett.

Arnolfini (Theatre)
Saturday 14th March 2020
1:00 – 2:00pm

There’s more information on the Liberated Words website, and it sounds like a really exciting event, with films from around the world and a panel discussion including Mark Smalley from Extinction Rebellion as well as UK ecopoets Helen Moore, Meriel Lland and Caleb Parkin. If you can’t make it to Bristol, Lucy and Sarah note that “We are also looking for further screening venues, and other poetry films on the subject, particularly including diversity within the makers.” For those who can attend, the whole festival looks pretty unmissable, with an overall theme of “climate, nature, and romantic Bristol.”

Poetry films on the refugee crisis to be screened at North Cornwall Book Festival

For those able to get to St Endelion on October 4th, this sounds like a great event.

Uprooted

Event 2
Thursday 4th October, 7.30pm, St Endellion Hall
Admission £6 (Free to accompanying carers)

Uprooted tersely describes the situation of the subjects of this evening of poetry films. Poetry filmmaker and writer, Sarah Tremlett and performance poet and novelist, Lucy English are Liberated Words. They’ll screen powerful and varied short poetry films from their Home From Home project, exploring the effects of war in the Middle East and the refugee crisis, as well as interpretations of home for those arriving as immigrants in a strange country. Between films, Lucy will perform poems from The Book of Hours.

If you’re not sure just what a poetry film might look like, you can watch some of the Liberated Words catalogue of films here.

You can find out more about Sarah’s work here, and about Lucy’s work here.

Liberated Words CIC www.liberatedwords.com was founded in 2012 by poetry filmmaker and arts writer Sarah Tremlett (www.sarahtremlett.com) and performance poet and novelist Lucy English (Reader in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University). Poetry films are short films combining poetry (spoken and/or written with the moving image and music, and Lucy and Sarah’s focus is to curate and screen films from their community workshops alongside top international poetry filmmakers. Workshops include working with: school children (English, Media and Dance), dementia patients, and teenagers with autism (where they were recognised by Bath Council for raising awareness about autism, particularly for the parents and carers involved).

Their current project-in-progress Home from Home which will take place in 2019, centres on urban and rural groups facing homelessness, whether refugees or those from a variety of disadvantaged backgrounds.  It offers the opportunity to use poetry film workshops and a one-year screening programme as a means of expression and learning, while creating a revealing approach to consciousness-raising for the general public. Films screened on this special festival evening have been selected by Sarah from the Liberated Words and Poem Film archives, or by courtesy of the artists. There will be an opportunity for discussion after the screening.

Click through to book a ticket.

New Liberated Words website

Congratulations to Liberated Words—Sarah Tremlett and Lucy English’s videopoetry- and poetry film-promoting organization—for their brand new website overhaul. It is now much easier to navigate, not to mention better looking than its predecessor. According to a post on their Facebook page, it’s the work of Peter Hunter. He adapted a three-column WordPress magazine theme, with a top navigation bar menu of major post categories that collapses behind a three-line “hamburger” icon on mobile view. The site loads quickly on my slow internet connection.

I’m relieved to see this, because previously I think new content was being added to the front page by editing and re-publishing it, which made for an incoherent archive and provided no way to subscribe to new content. Now there’s an RSS feed and everything, so I won’t have to worry about missing new posts… such as this introduction of two new members of their team, Caleb Parkin and Ursula Billington, or this piece on their judging of poetry films for the upcoming Newlyn International Film Festival. Well done.

Poetry Film Competition: Light Up Poole

Submissions are requested from poets and filmmakers as part of Light Up Poole, a unique digital Light Art Festival aiming to transform Poole’s town centre after dark from 15-17 February 2018.

Focussing on a theme of ‘Identity’, festival organisers are looking for films, up to a maximum of three minutes, that address the topic and consider how identity is reflected in contemporary society. What does it mean to be an individual, a member of a family, a worker in the city, in a rural setting, a person living in Britain today?

For the purpose of this submission request, a poetry film is defined as a fusion of spoken/written word with visual images where the combination of media provide a richer experience than either the spoken/written word or visual images could do on their own. In this instance, a poetry film isn’t simply a video recording of a poet reading a poem. The poetry film can also include music.

Prizes

Ten short-listed films will be shown at select venues in Poole’s town centre throughout the duration of the festival, with further screenings as a prelude to main cinema screenings at Lighthouse Poole during March/April 2018. The winning film will receive £500, to be shared between poet and film-maker in the case of collaborations.

Links to films must be received by 26th January 2018. High Definition files will be required for short-listed films.

Please send to matt@artfulscribe.co.uk

Judges

Lucy English is co-creator of the poetry film organisation, Liberated Words, which curates and screens poetry films. Lucy is best known as a performance poet who has published three novels and is currently a Reader at Bath Spa University where she teaches on the undergrad and Master’s Creative Writing courses. Her specialisms include writing for digital platforms.

Sarah Tremlett, MPhil, FRSA, SWIP, is a British poetry filmmaker, artist and arts theorist/writer, with a first-class honours degree in Fine Art and an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. In 2012, she co-founded Liberated Words poetry film events with poet and novelist Lucy English to screen international poetry filmmakers alongside films made in the community, and co-conceived MIX conference, Bath Spa University.

Guidelines

Entry is free to anyone, and should be made via email to matt@artfulscribe.co.uk including the following info in an attached word document:

  • Name and duration of Film
  • Name of director
  • Country of origin
  • Contact details
  • Name of Poet
  • Name of Poem
  • Synopsis
  • Filmmaker biography
  • and a Link to download a high-resolution version of the film.

You may submit as many entries as you like. Films must interpret, be based on, or convey the festival theme. Non-English language films will require English subtitles.

Dear Alison by Helen Mort

Chris Prescott of Dark Sky Media (“specialists in adventure film production”) directed this short, documentary-style poetry film featuring Helen Mort as poet and climber. The Vimeo description:

‘Dear Alison’ is a poem featured in the anthology No Map Could Show Them by critically acclaimed poet Helen Mort – a collection of poems centring on women making their mark and forging their own paths throughout history, both in the wilderness and in modern urban life. ‘Dear Alison’ is a personal tribute written by Helen to the late British mountaineer Alison Hargreaves – a mother, a wife and a talented climber who faced criticism due to her risk taking and her decision to continue climbing as a young mother, before her untimely death on K2 in 1995. The short film Dear Alison by Dark Sky Media and UKClimbing.com is a visual recreation of Helen’s words with imagery and sounds which evoke the poet’s emotional connection to Alison.

The film is currently featured on the front page of Liberated Words, where the accompanying, unsigned essay calls Dear Alison “a metanarrative on the process of writing: of the struggle of putting one word after another; of literally conceiving poetry, line by line.”

With the topic of non-metaphorical poetry films still echoing in our minds we also might consider this particular work as riven with metaphorical seams (rock metaphors to discuss metaphor notwithstanding). Throughout ‘Dear Alison’ close-up shots of Helen’s hand writing the poem punctuate the film and at the end she draws a firm but balanced line under the last word. We might think of this as jointly associative for both climber and poet: the metaphorical horizontal evocation of the joyous release from the vertical ropes and carabiners that stop a climber’s fall; or equally, the poet’s release from language, deliberately letting the line go; the summit having been reached. However, the analogy between mountaineering and writing ends there: the poet displays their roped words, carabinered like woven lace; the mountaineer hauls in their rope erasing all traces of the climb.

Read the rest.

Exploring Contemplative Effects in Text-Based Video Poems

In 2005 I first began experimenting with rhythmic effects in relation to text-based, minimalist video poems as an extension of my work as a painter, filmmaker and writer. Influenced by a fusion of concrete poetry, feminist inquiry and structuralist and surrealist experimental film, I wanted to approach the essence of poetic structure in a reductive way, reconsidering the route to meaning through the traditional double pattern of verse – metre and rhythm – in moving, audiovisual terms.

Whilst contemplative effects exist across all forms of conventionally character and narrative-based poetry film, I wanted to strip down and magnify the prosody (rhythm) itself, and the letter became an ideal form, bringing less-suggested context to the inquiry. My aim was to focus on a series of minimal, visual text-based video poems as a way of exploring the remediation (Bolter and Grusin, 2000) of aural or verbal prosody in page-based verse. I am terming these video poems rather than poetry films as they weren’t created from pre-existing poems, but more as artworks with the screen as canvas. Within this formal definition I was interested in creating a particular type of contemplative effect, where a letter or word slowly disappears and reappears, that I termed de/rematerialising prosody. (Apologies for the weighty terminology!) The combined sequential, linear word with the cyclical form for me represented the two essential formal components of the verse form, but revised in a dynamical way through motion.

My initial experimentation with moving visual verse became a research project entitled Re: Turning – From Graphic Verse to Digital Poetics: historical rhythms and digital transitional effects in Graphic Poetry Films. I went on to deliver papers or organise exhibitions/talks around the subject at: Chelsea College of Art and Design, including the work of artist Liliane Lijn; VideoBardo ‘For The Earth’ conference in Buenos Aires 2012; MIX conference in Bath (2012 and 2013); the e-poetry conference, Kingston, 2013; The Southbank Centre Poetry International Festival of Love in 2014; and TARP audiovisual festival, Vilnius National Gallery of Art, 2015. A more in-depth account of contemplative effects and prosody will be included in the forthcoming publication The Poetics of Poetry Film, co-authored with Zata Banks, including essays from many of the top practitioners in the field.

My work has always looked over its shoulder to historical forms that expanded on the dual verbal/visual letter (or verbicovisual as the Brazilian concrete poetry Noigandres group have stated, following James Joyce’s neologism in Finnegan’s Wake). As is commonly known, in the mediaeval period illuminated manuscripts such as ‘Books of Hours’ (commissioned books of religious/spiritual contemplation) featured large initial letters of opening paragraphs that were also pictures depicting the scene being verbally described. In a similar way, several hundred years B.C. prayer wheels containing short, linear texts were turned or spun by Buddhist monks as a means of attaining enlightenment, effectively turning texts according to the natural rhythm of the wheel of life, dissolving the linear word in the cyclical elements beyond human control.

As such the dual word as image and the deconstructed linear word, subject to turning, has historic precedents, and these deconstructions of the word align with the need to access spiritual concerns. It is hard to ignore that the very foundations of verse, metre and rhythm are also said to have a spiritual base. As the English critic and poet T.E. Hulme (1883–1917) has noted in his Lecture on Modern Poetry (1908):

The older art (double pattern of traditional form) was originally a religious incantation … The effect of rhythm, like that of music, is to produce a kind of hypnotic state, during which suggestions of grief and ecstasy are easily and powerfully effective …

The binary, dual aspect of a letter as both visual and verbal, and also linear but also turned in poetic verse form, sat at the centre of my research. However, I was deterred by my supervisors from mentioning anything to do with spiritually related matters. And I should point out that I am not inferring in an absolutist way that a moving poetry film can create spiritually uplifting effects. What I have aimed to do is to appropriate and translate, in a form of broad metanarrative, historical structures and conventions as approaches to weaving a thoughtful and contemplative surface in its own right, as opposed to creating a poetic dramatic narrative containing effects. As can be imagined, many types of poetry film can be argued to utilise contemplative effects (knowingly or not) and I will discuss this further in the upcoming publication.

In 2005 I made a work that referenced the ‘carmina figurate’ in Renaissance texts, where typically a sacred image was picked out in red letters against a field of black type so that a holy figure could be seen and meditated on during the process of reading. The resulting film, Blanks in Discourse 3 — which became known as Mistaken Identity — was a commentary on consumer depictions of female identity. Found black text copy from women’s magazines became a foil against which the words I and Home were added in red, but juxtaposed with a computer error beep.

The resulting beep made a sonic pattern that, when shown in a gallery in Lithuania, created a delicate, random, plaintive ‘tune’ or irregular sequence. In some ways the pattern of notes, without direction or timing, evoked a sense of disconnection, but also pathos; of subjectivity and soul trying to play out within an out-of-control social environment.

Mistaken Identity, colour, sound, Sarah Tremlett, 2005.

As poetry is a temporal art, I sought to integrate metronomic time or interval measure with the durational or flowing rhythmic elements. This applied to both the aural and also the visual patterns before our eyes. In the early films I did not include voice, as I considered that an extra decipherable element in meaning creation, so that text, sound and image became the sole fusion of forms. I also examined ways of thinking about audiovisual structure as pure structure: repetition, blank space, cut-ups alongside minimal soundscapes. It is also important to note that my films and all the films in this essay have no definite beginning or end, which is why they cannot be defined by length; there is no narrative trajectory, simply a continuous play of audiovisual pattern that can be endlessly looped, and gradually interpreted.

There is some correlation between non-dramatic poetry films (more or less without a plotted narrative) and a more consciously affective reliance upon metronomic and rhythmic patterning. A still, framed space that changes and alters durationally, but not in tune with a sequential narrative, can have an effect on us that may be hard to put into words. One aspect of such a space can be its non-referential function. It does not talk of another space or time, but only its own being; which is why this sort of film is more accurately described as a video poem and most purely when the audio as well as the visual is newly composed, and relates back to the space, rather than associated with any other situation.

AMAM/AMMA, contemplative, minimal, graphic video poem; colour, sound, Sarah Tremlett, 2010.

As a minimal, contemplative form of graphic video poem, my work AMAM/AMMA in its letter formation comprises two paradoxical parts concerning the binary nature of the relationship between self and mother or mother and daughter. This work takes the words AM and MA, which not only palindromically, phonetically and visually but semantically create a parallelism of prosodic form with content. It asks the viewer to consider how the paratactical relationship between the two groups of letters which seem interchangeable function alongside the sound of a heartbeat. In minimal video poems we are not only examining a gestalt dialectical play between the parts and the whole or the text and the rest of the image, but also the dynamic motional play within the text itself. This work uses an irregular, fluttering, pulsing motion to explore a different understanding of beat or metre, and how blurring can have a conceptual relation to content, the tremulous nature of new life, as well as blurring boundaries of identity. Meaning is saturated throughout audiovisual form and content, supporting but testing Roman Jakobson’s theories of equivalence (1960) based on purely verbal poetic forms. On a wider scale, the dual pattern of constant beat (the heart) that underpins the rhythms of life in the womb and ‘outside’ also happens to be the core double essence of traditional verse-based poetry. The parallel between the way of human ‘being’ and the prosody of poetry might have a correlation that could explain the effects of poetry far deeper than we can imagine.

Thought Acts, B&W, Steve Fossey, Liberated Words II, 2013.

Another film concerned with de/rematerialisation of text and included in Liberated Words II at The Arnolfini, Bristol, in 2013, is British artist Steve Fossey’s Thought Acts. Here the sway of text and light with a moody soundtrack shifts between legibility and pattern: a fluctuating de/rematerialisation of text operates, as in AMAM/AMMA. The filmmaker is concerned with the visual effects of light and pattern and their inclusive relation to meaning. The disappearance and reappearance of visual text in itself encapsulates a form of gradual change through motion, a transitional effect that could be utilised to produce either slow cyclical repetitive rhythms, sometimes in relation to metronomic aural beats, or metronomic visual effects.

Les Lieux de Memoire by British artist Tamsin Taylor, which I included in Liberated Words poetry film screening at MIX 2012, is a slowed-down filming of a verse poem that has been scattered with water (seemingly tears), reconstituting itself through film reversal. Slowly we see the poem reappear, transcending conventional temporality, accompanied by the occasional blip, blip sound of what must have been the flicking of water onto the page. This echoes my film Mistaken Identity, in the heightened attunement to the smallness of random, repeated, identical sounds. This sublime video poem, which also engages with the liminal aspect between materiality and language and what I would term ‘elemental sound’ is an example of a de/rematerialisation process in a very profound and direct way. Les Lieux de Memoire asks us to engage with its very process of creation, its fundamental becoming or dynamic of change.

Les Lieux de Memoire, B&W, sound, Tamsin Taylor, Liberated Words I, 2012.

In Unrest by Italian artist Marco de Mutiis (included in Liberated Words I, 2012), the beginnings of a de/rematerialisation process have come into play, bringing forward the blank into a type of temporal form. Here words are diffused before blurring or disappearing alongside an eerie, repetitive, muffled ‘bleep’ sound, creating a metronomic sense of isolation — a non-narrative within a semi-narrative of scenes that seem played out rather than lived.

Unrest, colour, sound, Marco de Mutiis, Liberated Words I, 2011.

The metronomic interplays with the abstracted rhythms, and it is as if we are the systems that control us; we are discourse, but a discourse that is pre-written and out of our control; we don’t make it, we align with it. In fact, at a far bleaker and catastrophic level we are written or we are erased. To me this film contains signs of traditional prosody but in a new, conceptual way; and these rhythms appear to be embedded in the very fabric of our accelerated, overly-constructed human condition.

In my video poem She/Seasons/Contemplating Nature I aimed to blur the conceptual divisions between culture and nature, combining de/rematerialising prosodic texts from women’s magazines accompanied by metronomic star sounds and a pulsing coloured sphere that changes from cool to hot colours. She/Seasons/Contemplating Nature generates a cyclical return in four chromatic movements or phases which begin with ‘winter’ (in terms of colour) and return to it again and again on an endless loop. As the blurred effect increases, so the figure/ground (Arnheim, 1974) distinction lessens. Letters lose symbolic meaning as they become diffused into pattern. This cycle of chromatic prosodic change occurs as the text and the image slowly emerges and disappears. In some senses then, we can view the text and image as we might view the simple shapes of nature around us: trees and flowers which are subject to alteration due to the passage of seasons and time. American poet Stephanie Strickland’s notion of text decay (Kac, 2007) springs to mind but in this film the whole screen changes at once.

She/Seasons/Contemplating Nature, Sarah Tremlett, 2010/11.

In all the films mentioned, text has remained in its traditional, linear form yet also operates as visual, turned text. Meaning shifts between and as a fusion of text-based verbal language and audiovisual rhythms and effects, with almost non-existent narrative and a screen behaving as a contemplative canvas. Examining prosodic elemental forms is an attempt to naturalise how poetry works: how it weaves sounds and felt moments to create what we call ‘poetry’, or measured words through time. But whether an absolute comparison can be made between the verbal notational structures of verse prosody and those created via the moving audiovisual image is another question completely — one we will continue to debate for years to come.

REFERENCES

Arnheim, R., Art and Visual Perception – A Psychology of the Creative Eye. London, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1974.

Bolter, D.J, & Grusin, R., Remediation – Understanding New Media. Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England: The MIT Press, 2000.

Hulme, T, E., Lecture on Modern Poetry, 1908.

Jakobson, R., ‘Closing Statements: Linguistics and Poetics’. In: Thomas A. Sebeok, ed. Style In Language. Cambridge Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1960, 357.

Kac, E., Media Poetry – An International Anthology. Bristol: Intellect Books Ltd, 2007.

Lucy English interviewed about filmpoetry on Carpool Poetry

The latest episode of a new YouTube series from Burning Eye Books features a lovely interview with UK poet and poetry-film expert Lucy English.

Clive Birnie talks to Lucy English about her filmpoem project Book of Hours (http://thebookofhours.org), Liberated Words (http://liberatedwords.com) and Rebecca Tantony’s one-to-one poetry show All the Journeys I Never Took (http://rebecca-tantony.com/projects) which Lucy produced.

Burning Eye Books are “a small independent publisher in the South West predominately specialising in promoting spoken word artists.”

Incidentally, Lucy English wasn’t the first poet to draw a connection between Medieval illuminated manuscripts and poetry films; I suppose it’s a natural association to make. The Chicago-based poet Gerard Wozek, who has been making poetry videos with artist Mary Russell since 2000, has a good essay about poetry video on his website which was invaluable to me when I was starting Moving Poems back in 2009. I still quote his succinct definition on MP’s About page:

A poetry video is an illuminated electronic manuscript that records the voice, the spirit, and vision of the poet, and frames this technological intersection between visual art and literature.

Poetry film workshop in Bristol, 14-15 October

Bath Spa University is sponsoring a Liberated Words Two-Day Poetry Film Festival, led by the accomplished filmpoem makers Chaucer Cameron and Helen Dewbery. Here’s the Facebook event description:

The workshop is generously sponsored by Bath Spa University so the cost is just £10

Booking: to reserve a place contact Chaucer by email: chaucer.cameron@gmail.com

The workshop covers:

  • understanding what poetry film is or can be
  • viewing poetry films from around the world
  • knowing where to find still and moving images
  • creating images and film yourself
  • where to find music and sound or get it made
  • putting it all together
  • where to send/show finished work

We will finish day one of the workshop making a group poetry film together. On day two, with support and collaboration, you will have the opportunity to make a poetry film of your own. We will include using archive material, still images and moving film, and using words on the screen and voiceovers. You will be encouraged to bring your own ideas and skills, and push into new realms of what poetry and poetry film can be.

It is useful, but not essential, for you to bring a laptop, and camera or mobile phone capable of taking video. If you do not have a laptop you will not be able to make your own poetry film on the day – but there is still plenty you can learn and experience – so don’t let that put you off.

An practical online handbook is available for all participants.
Please bring a packed lunch. Coffee, tea and snacks are available in the YHA café.

The workshop will be held October 14 – October 15 in the conference room, YHA Bristol, The Grain House, 14 Narrow Quay, Bristol BS1 4QA. See Facebook for more information.

The High Hills Have a Bitterness by Ivor Gurney (2)

“As part of Bristol Poetry Festival 2014, Liberated Words Poetry Film Festival asked for films on the theme of Gloucestershire WWI poet Ivor Gurney’s The High Hills Have a Bitterness, to commemorate the anniversary of the 1914-18 war,” notes the Vimeo description. I posted one of the other submissions, by Othniel Smith, last June. This one is by Helen Dewbery. Animated text, layered images and industrial soundtrack all come together very well. The Liberated Words description continues:

This film brings out the sense of loss: loss of self, the environment and industry. The quarries of the Mendip Hills, many of which are long gone and are now geological sites of Special Scientific Interest, are places to reflect on the ‘soul helpless gone’. The active quarries are used for road construction and other building work. It doesn’t take an expert to realise that they too will one day run out.

Helen is an associate member of the Royal Photographic Society and works in collaboration with poets to produce film poems and collections and images.

Late by Keith Sargent

An author-made videopoem by the creative director of the British design company immprint. It was nominated for best editing at the Liberated Words Poetry Film Festival 2014. Keith Sargent gave this background:

My father was dying of cancer, I was in London and he was in Kent, a 45 mile distance; this would normally take one and a half hours. On the 8th of August at 8.30 a.m. I received a call from my Mum who passed the phone to my Dad, he said “I love you. Night, night.” At 10 a.m. I received a call from his nurse saying he was very close (to dying). I set off. I arrived at 1.15. I was late. He had gone. I held his still warm hand (Mum had wrapped him in duvet to keep his body warm). I missed him. I miss him.

Liberated Words’ Vimeo upload description goes on to say:

Keith Sargent is creative director of multi-disciplinary design company immprint ltd and has worked as an educator, illustrator, filmmaker and graphic designer since graduating from the RCA in 1988. His films have been commissioned for commercial projects and screened at Bath Mix, Zebra, Athens and Visible Verse poetry film festivals.

director / scriptwriter / editor / music: Keith Sargent
cast: Keith Sargent, Stan Sargent, Rebecca Sargent, Stanley Sargent

Since my friend Rachel Rawlins saw this film at Liberated Words’ March 5 screening at The Little Theatre in Bath and really liked it, I asked her if she’d be willing to write a short review. We don’t get to hear very often from fans of poetry film who are neither poets nor filmmakers. Here’s what she sent along:

I love the way this video poem manages in a deceptively simple way to juxtapose so many of the profound dualities around life and death. There’s the physical rootedness of warmth and cold as well as our subjective experience of time, both forwards and backwards. The soundtrack and film unite to give a sense of slow, almost underwater/otherworldliness whilst narrating an experience of considerable tension and stress where the need for speed is central. The use of text on the screen is something I often have great difficulty with (perhaps as a result of a dyslexia-like inability to process letters easily) but its use here—slow, deliberate and carefully planted within the physical visual environment of the film—really works for me. I find the overall experience utterly immersive.

What I don’t like (and actually makes my toes curl) is the addition, one by one, of crosses above the heads of the three adults in the family photograph. I’m happy there wasn’t the usual slow focusing in on the child’s face or suchlike but I feel there’s no need to use any device to underscore the fact that he’s the last one left. We’ve already been told that.

The Golden Bird by Helen Moore

My friend Rachel attended Liberated Words“Reflections” screening at Bath last week, and this film, directed by Howard Vause of Frome Media Arts, was one of her favorites. I agree it’s a marvelous blend of live and animated sequences, and the back-story—the way it grew out of creative sessions with adults with dementia—is compelling, too. Here’s the description from Vimeo:

‘Babka and The Golden Bird’ is a Russian folktale in which the heroine, Babka, an elderly woman rescues a dying bird. When the forest is threatened, the bird grants her three wishes…

The Golden Bird Project invited patients on the RUH [Royal United Hospitals] Older People’s Units to take part in a series of interactive storytelling workshops with poet, Helen Moore and film-maker Howard Vause. With music by Frankie Simpkins and models by Edwina Bridgeman (Art At The Heart Musician and Artist in Residence respectively), the project was initiated by Sarah Tremlett (Liberated Words), funded by BaNES and supported by Art at the Heart’s Hetty Dupays and Diane Samways (Arts Programme Manager and Marketing, respectively).

This film features an original poem by Helen Moore based on both the folktale and contributions from workshop participants. It premieres at Liberated Words Poetry Film Festival (Arnolfini, Bristol) in September 2014.

See the page 12 of the programme on Issuu for a much fuller description of the project from Helen Moore. (See also the website for Art at the Heart of the RUH.) Moore writes, in part:

Drawing on my experience of running story sessions with older adults with dementia, I’ve seen how tactile objects can offer a stimulating opener for group work. Handling the objects provides the participants with sensory engagement, which helps ground them in the present moment. And by choosing things that connect with the story I’m about to tell, there’s a ‘bridge’ into what will follow. … Encouraging participants to express associations that arise with the objects can also facilitate self-expression in new/unexpected areas, mining memories and experiences, which were perhaps long forgotten.