Filmpoem has been invited to partner Felix Poetry Festival in Antwerp on 14th June 2014: we are bringing The Poetry Society as well as our established mix of poetry-film, live performance, poets, filmmakers and discussions.
Filmpoem was founded in 2009 by artist Alastair Cook and is dedicated to the filming of words; a collaborative venture committed to attracting new audiences to new writing. Tweet us, listen to our Scottish Poetry Library Podcast, read the manifesto or join our gang on Facebook. First though, here's our Director Alastair Cook's film of Morgan Downie's poem Scene wrapped up in a trailer for our upcoming Hidden Door gig on 5th April 2014.
I spent time with Jo on her narrow boat, Tinker, and recorded Tinker's sounds, alongside her moving through the water. This is a male voiced poem, so I was persuaded to read it. I shot it last month on Kodak Ektachrome Super8, which is now so rare as to be prohibitively expensive. Filmpoem will be partnering Felix Poetry Festival for next year's Filmpoem Festival, alongside working with Absent Voices in Greenock and delivering Filmpoem Children's Workshops in schools throughout the land.
Fallow Field is a poem by Scott Edward Anderson, from his brand new eponymous collection. It's been a pleasure to make a Filmpoem for a friend and this harks back to my earlier work, motifs I explored and delighted in a number of years ago which suit Scott's incredible words. This will be the final filmpoem before the epic undertaking of Filmpoem 35 which will have thirty-five poets in it! Scott's collection Fallow Field is available from Aldrich Press, Amazon and Scott's own website.
Commissioned by Harper's Bazaar for poet and model Max Wallis. Allow Yourself This One Day is the final poem in Max's début pamphlet, Modern Love, where he traces the year-long course of a love affair and all its constituent parts: sex and sensuality, longing and loneliness, desire and disappointment, heady beginnings and inevitable endings; in a world dominated by high street brands, text messaging and social media.
As part of Filmpoem Festival, we've asked people to make a poetry-film using a recording of Scottish poet par excellence John Glenday, reciting his poem A Westray Prayer. This is particularly fitting, as Filmpoem Festival forms part of a larger programme called Walking a Line celebrating John Muir, delivered by North Light Arts with support from Creative Scotland. I could not resist adding my own: this is for John Glenday, with thanks for these words. I know this by heart and it's simply an incredible poem.
After the Robins is a magnificent tour de force of a poem by the English poet Angela Readman; Readman grew up in Middlesbrough and following university in Manchester relocated to Newcastle upon Tyne to complete a film studies MA. She completed a masters in creative writing at the University of Northumbria in 2000 and won a Waterstones prize for her distinctive poetry and prose. Her words are incredible, I think.
This film is dedicated to my late Godfather, a real and bright presence in my young life.
Sonatorrek (Loss of Sons) is a Filmpoem of John Glenday's poem The Lost Boy, written for Modern Poets in Viking Poetry, for the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic at University of Cambridge, as part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
The work is based on Glenday's Uncle Alexander, who was in the D' Battery 307th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery and died in the Battle of the Sambre on November 4th 1918, the same battle as Wilfred Owen. Glenday's Grandfather, who was a blacksmith, signed the papers allowing his son to go into the Forces before he was of age.
Born to Die is a poem by Iraqi poet Zaher Mousa and is in his native Arabic. There are no subtitles, as I want you to hear to the emotion in this great poet's voice. The English text of the poem is available on the Vimeo site if you click through. Born to Die was a commission from Reel Festivals and was shot in Iraq for Filmpoem by Ryan van Winkle. It is a pair with Swoon, with him making the English language counterpart translate by Lauren Pyott and read by Jen Hadfield; this is the second film we have paired, the first being Aan Het Water, below.
I was right pleased and certainly humbled to be asked if I could take my Filmpoem project to Antwerp, to showcase alongside Swoon. The Felix Poetry Festival takes place in the Felix Pakhuis, a delicately restored warehouse on the Willemdock to the north of the city. As part of the festival, Swoon and I were commissioned to do a joint Filmpoem for the Festival and through development, decided to do one each, based around Luca Nasciuti's music. The poem is called Aan Het Water and is by Bernard Dewulf, the City Poet for Antwerp.
Field Notes is a landscape incantation, a morning breath.
Directed by Alastair Cook, written and narrated by poet and publisher Colin Will, with a commissioned soundtrack from composer Luca Nasciuti, Field Notes premiered at the Alchemy Film Festival on 22nd October 2011.
The Forty Elephants is a short film, conceived and directed by Alastair Cook with cinematography by James Norton. The Forty Elephants is developed around a narrative commissioned by Alastair, written and read by Gérard Rudolf. The project takes its lead from the Victorian street gang, of women and their children, who plagued the Elephant and Castle; it draws in the current landscape and it's deteriorating edge, a farewell to the Heygate and Aylesbury estates; this is a dark trawl through threat and desire, driven by Gérard's incredible words. The Forty Elephants premiered on 8th April 2011 at Alastair's fine art photography show at The Howden.
Jump Into Air is a poem by Guinevere Glasfurd on the subject of the deathly decline of the British fishing industry, commissioned by North Light Arts. Guinevere, as well as being an exceptional author and poet, has written for the Fishing News, the industry paper, and drew both on this and her stay with the fishermen of Dunbar during this Summer. Jump Into Air has sound commissioned from Luca Nasciuti and was filmed by Alastair Cook using Kodak Ektachrome.
The Herring Trail was commissioned by North Light, based on the poem The Herrin' Trail by Rita Bradd as part of my summer residency at McArthur's Store in Dunbar. I spent 3 months there over the summer, working with the fishermen using wet plate collodion (a photographic process from 1851). This film has scant relation to that, as I've used film given to me by the British Council, which is deliberately digitally extrapolated.
Mirror is a poem by Sally Evans, one of the most revered and respected poets in Britain: a publisher and owner with her husband of Kings Books in Callander, she also runs the annual Callander Poetry Weekend each September, where Mirror premiered this year.
Twenty Second Filmpoem is twenty 20 second Filmpoems; it was conceived when I was asked to do a Pecha Kucha night in Edinburgh. An interesting concept, you present 20 slides for 20 seconds; I thought I'd do something a little different, actually create some work for the event. I commissioned 20 writers, all listed below, to write flash fiction against some 1960s found footage I'd edited. It's ambitious and inevitably some bits work much better than others, but for me it is imperative to push this a little, to leave my comfort zone. And invariable, all the writing is superb, and for that I am thankful. I also took the opportunity of using Vladimir Kryutchev's binaural field recordings, for which I thank him. His amazing binaural map of Sergiyev Posad in Russia is here.
Jonah is a poem by London based Californian Robert Peake; the poem has an mesmerising tale behind it, a tale of two lost sons and beautiful black bear. Jonah was premiered at the Felix Poetry Festival in Antwerp as part of a Filmpoem Live event on 15th June.
Better Days is from poet and publisher Kevin Cadwallender's collection, Dog Latin. I took the opportunity of commissioning incredible ambient Mark Walters to compose the soundtrack for this filmpoem. The film was shot using my retired iPhone 3G and edited using only still images. Is this a film? Better Days will premiere with Kevin reading live at StAnza this year, on Friday March 16th as part of my Filmpoem Live performance.
Leper Window, St Mary the Virgin is a poem by Jane McKie; it won the inaugural Edwin Morgan International Poetry Competition in 2011 and was praised by the judges as "spare, musical and wonderfully imagined." It has been a privilege to be trusted with Jane's words, to develop a Filmpoem around such wonderful words. Jane and the composer Luca Nasciuti perform Leper Window, St Mary the Virgin live at a screening in February as part of my solo exhibition, How the Land Lies, in Edinburgh.
Wherever We Live Now was written by Elizabeth Rimmer and forms part of her eponymous collection, though the poem lives under the title of 'Visiting the Dunbrody Famine Ship'. This film came while I was concentrating on two other films, which will be part of my solo film, photography and glass show How the Land Lies in Edinburgh this spring. This is also a farewell to Kodak, of sorts, as there'll never really be a goodbye embrace- entirely made from Kodachrome Super8, wildly out of date. And a homage to my solace, Portobello.
14th Avenue Tshwane (née Pretoria) is a poem by Gérard Rudolf from his collection Orphaned Latitudes. It is my first work of 2012 and illustrates the year's intent: it is made from tangible film, not digital recordings, and 2012 is the year of using the digital to edit the analogue. I cannot edit without digital, I cannot make film without analogue. The year of Rollei, Bolex and Collodion. See you soon and Happy New Year!
Slow Wave Through The City is a poem by Jacq Kelly, published by Colin Herd this year. It crossed my path digitally and I watched the film in my head as I read, my adopted city of Edinburgh speeding by. Slow Wave Through the City was filmed in Edinburgh on 8mm film in Summer 2011 on a long walk with the poet; it was shot using Ektachrome Super8, processed in Kansas by Dwaynes.
Mothlight is a film of Janette Ayachi's poem, which she wrote after watching James Stanley Brakhage's film Mothlight, a film shot on single 8 and hand edited in 1963, a "found foliage" film composed of insects, leaves, and other detritus sandwiched between two strips of perforated tape. Janette's new poetry is beguiling, mercurial, her words are set out before her: dark, open, beautiful. Mothlight was filmed on single 8 in 1961 and edited in 2011.
Philosophy is by poet and boater Jo Bell; she is also the Director of National Poetry Day. It's been swirling around my head all summer, while baby Rose has been born and grown; Philosophy is a joy, bright and full of life, bursting. It has been long in gestation but it has been a real pleasure to make this one; the entire film was shot on Ektachrome Super 8 and processed at Dwaynes in Kansas, whose praises I cannot sing high enough. Also, it has also been a pleasure to be able to include Vladimir Kryutchev's incredible sound work again. His site at Oontz is a wonder for binaural loving sound folks. This one's for my boy, Charlie.
Prodigal is a poem by incredible poet Kona Macphee and was born from Andrew Philip's poem project for the second Hidden Door festival, held in Edinburgh in October 2010. I was asked to record a reading of the poem and as I read it, I felt it's power and resolved to make a filmpoem. I commissioned a cello piece from Rebecca Rowe and we performed this live at the Poetry Association of Scotland's meeting on 9th March 2011, at the Scottish Poetry Library. A new direction for these perhaps, the addition of live performance...but the work is as dark and mercurial as ever.
Condition of Fire is a filmpoem of seven poems from New Jersey poet Jennifer Lynn Williams eponymous first collection. As her publisher, Tony Frazer, writes: "Ovid expressed the truth that to change is to survive, and this message erupts out of the poems in Condition of Fire, whose language and images strive to communicate in new ways the essential elements of myth, creation and the burning breath of being." Condition of Fire was premiered on 26th February 2011 at the Scottish Poetry Library and features a commissioned sound work by Luca Nasciuti.
Naming is a film by Alastair Cook of a poem by US poet Scott Edward Anderson. Scott’s poetry received the Nebraska Review Award and the Aldrich Emerging Poets Award and appeared in the recent issue of Anon. You can read more of his poetry at his Seapoetry blog and his website. Naming was premiered at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall in Edinburgh, January 2011. It was shot entirely on Kodachrome Super 8 in 2010 and contains no post production, after effects or digital trickery.
Abachan is a landscape incantation, written in Lybster, Caithness, at a time of crisis; it is unlikely that I will make another film with a poem of my own. Abachan was premiered at the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics meet at Brantwood, John Ruskin's house, on Coniston in the Lake District, March 26th 2011. Additional sounds from David Fyans and Victoria MacRae. Abachan was shot entirely on Kodachrome Super 8 in 1977 by my father.
MacAdam Takes to the Sea is a filmpoem of Andrew Philip's wonderful eponymous poem, commissioned for the second Hidden Door Festival in Edinburgh; it was premiered on 23rd October 2010. It will also be shown at StAnza, the Scottish Poetry Festival, from 16-20th March 2011.
-ed is a film of a poem by Mairi Sharratt from her collection This is a Poem. It took a long time for me to begin this filmpoem for two reasons: I had been busy with The Land and the Sea, my
solo film and photography show as part of the Edinburgh Festival 2010; also the poem is dark and yet meditative, lifting to a powerful crescendo and as a result I felt that I needed to introduce a figurative element. So I ruminated...
Emily Melting is film collaboration with poet Gérard Rudolf. The poem Emily Melting is from Gérard's incredible poetry collection, Orphaned Latitudes. Gérard described the poem as being "as much about a lost country as it is about people losing each other in the half remembered haze of a boyhood memory." This film is the beginning of a series of work with Gérard, and we plan to write, produce and direct a feature length film in due course.
“So we are on this island, sunshine bleaching our hair, driving some piece of shit hire car. Following this tractor, which is hauling this trailer, big red fucker. Beautiful puppy leashed onto the back of this open bed..."