~ Southbank Centre ~

Call-out for Instagram poetry (including short films)

The Poetry Library at London’s Southbank Centre posted a Call-out for Instagram Poetry back on the first of February — but there’s still plenty of time to enter:

A whole new generation has taken to Instagram to create and share poetry. Often described as an underground culture, some of the most successful Instagram poets have millions of followers and post over a dozen new poems a day.

That’s why we are asking poets and Instagrammers alike to share their work on Instagram, by tagging the library @nationalpoetrylibrary and using the hashtag #instapoetrylib. We are also looking for short poetry films which should be submitted using the same hashtag.

The best of these will be displayed in an exhibition at the National Poetry Library. From striking typographic design, to social comments and emotional confessions, this exhibition provides the perfect introduction to this emergent form of poetry.

How to enter

Participants can start publishing their Instapoems and short films right now, and can continue to do so until Wednesday 21 March.

All entries must be posted on Instagram using #instapoetrylib and tagging the library too (@nationalpoetrylibrary). Make sure you do this otherwise we might not see your entry! Only one entry per person.

By submitting your poems you are agreeing for your entry to be shown in the exhibition at the library.

We welcome you to play around with the form using images, illustrations, different typefaces or anything creative you want to explore – there are no limits! We are looking for interesting designs as well as strong poetic content.

There are no restrictions on location – this is a global competition so please share far and wide.

What you get

A selection of the library’s favourite poems will be displayed in an exhibition at the National Poetry Library, Southbank Centre. Three of the selected poets will be invited to read at the opening event and will receive a £100 performance fee.

If you’re new to Instagram, here’s how to post a video (note the maximum length: 60 seconds). You can of course create a video on a desktop computer, but it must be transferred to a mobile device and uploaded via the app. (User agent switcher plugins make it possible to post still photos from a web browser, but not video.) Note that Instagram videos play in a loop, like GIFs, so it might be fun to take that element of the user experience into account.

Instagram is of course the epitome of a web-hostile app — so much so that it doesn’t even permit links in posts — so if you’re an idealist who believes in the open web, and you’re not already on Instagram as I am, you’re probably better off not joining just to enter this contest. In any case, you don’t have to join to browse the web version, which is a far pleasanter experience than attempting to watch a video on a goddamn phone. Here are all the posts tagged #instapoetrylib so far. It looks as if at least one user has ignored the instruction to only enter once, and is busy spamming the hashtag with utter dreck. Yep, that’s Instagram.

But OK, being able to view all the other submissions is pretty cool, I’ll give them that. I’d love to see contests on other platforms practice this kind of openness.

Hat-tip: the Poetry Film Live group on Facebook.

Buttons by Robert Peake

Husband-and-wife team Robert Peake and Valerie Kampmeier won the children’s prize in Southbank Centre’s inaugural Shot Through the Heart Poetry Film Competition with this film. Peake wrote about the composition process on his writer’s blog:

When Valerie and I read the call-out for a film-poem competition with a children’s category happening here in London, we had to give it a try.

I wrote and recorded the poem, and then began playing with stop-motion animation. I used Christmas ornaments made of teasel, blue tack, coloured paper, a Raspberry Pi with LEGO-mounted camera arm (my own creation, at right), and of course lots of buttons. Valerie wrote and recorded the music at the end.

After more than forty hours of painstaking animation work, it was so gratifying to discover that the judges–a group of London school children–really liked the result.

Peake has also created a free storybook from the poem, available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

While it may seem surprising that someone could meet with such success on their first foray into the world of children’s poetry film, Peake appears to have thoroughly immersed himself in the genre, judging from his survey at the Huffington Post, “Combining Film and Poetry Is Child’s Play.”

The film-poem genre is a slim but highly enthusiastic and truly international one. It is largely comprised of serious filmmakers and equally serious musicians and poets. As a result, the sub-genre of film-poems made specifically for children is something of a subset within a subset. Yet this kind of thing has been going on successfully for some time, from cartoons of Dr. Seuss books made in the 1970s to the recent Emmy-Award-winning “A Child’s Garden of Poetry” produced by HBO in cooperation with the US Poetry Foundation. There are also many fine examples from all over the world, in different languages, of filmmakers setting poetry to film with children in mind.

Click through to watch the selection of seven films that Peake also screened at a live event in the Southbank Centre’s festival in mid-July. He includes some real gems.

Last and probably least, I see from Facebook that Robert Peake has just gotten British citizenship, in case anyone is wondering why there are now two nationalities identified with his poems here. Like T.S. Eliot, he has now become a major headache for book catalogers using the Library of Congress system. Fortunately, the same post can appear on multiple virtual shelves on a website, thanks to the wonders of modern content management systems (WordPress, in Moving Poems’ case). At any rate, congratulations to Robert for coming out of the closet as fully bi-national.

Rolling Frames by Ella Jane Chappell

This well-filmed dance interpretation of a poem by Ella Jane Chappell is one of ten shortlisted films for the Southbank Centre’s inaugural Shot Through the Heart Poetry Film competition. Katie Garrett of Garrett and Garrett Videography directs, with choreography by Anna-Lise Marie Hearn. The dance company, AniCo., has a webpage about the film. The text is worth quoting at length for the insight it gives into dance-focused poetry videos, an important subset of poetry video generally:

Rolling Frames is an intimate and personal look into the scenarios of three very different relationships that are affected and manipulated by dependency.

At the heart of Rolling Frames are a series of shifting voices and characters that inhabit three very different relationships. These relationships are linked by the role that dependency plays in each. To some extent, every relationship involves a yielding of independence. The poem dissects this manner of yielding: the manifestation of greed in desire, the vulnerability in love, the loneliness in lust.

The physicality and inner rhythms of the words are translated once over by the expressive movements of dance, and once again through the gaze of the camera’s eyes.

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).

“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.

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.”