Tag Archives: Ian McMillan

Poetry Loops

26 Feb

Poetry LoopsEach year at StAnza we show a range of short poetry films. This year they will be showing in the Conference Room at the Byre Theatre from 10.00am-8.00pm from Thursday 6th March to Sunday 9th March. This installation is free and unticketed, so whenever you have a spare few minutes at the festival, you can take in a short burst of filmpoem. As ever this year’s selection offers a diverse range of what’s currently being produced. Here is what will be on offer.

Lifted is a poem about the intriguing nature of travelling uphill in a canal boat, written and read by canal laureate Jo Bell and realised as a filmpoem by the filmmaker and photographer Alastair Cook. It was commissioned as one of four canal-themed filmpoems by the Poetry Society in partnership with the Canal & River Trust as part of the Canal Laureate 2013 Project. Filmed in Stone, Staffordshire. Length: 3:42.

‘All water wants, all water ever wants, / is to fall. So, we use the fall to lift us, // make of water its own tool, as simple / as a crowbar or a well-tied knot’

The Black Delph Bride by Liz Berry is a dark and mysterious poem inspired by an original Victorian canal map of Dudley and the feeling of ghostliness that lingers across the canal network. The atmospheric film was made by Alastair Cook, a filmmaker and photographer commissioned by the Poetry Society in partnership with the Canal & River Trust as part of the Canal Laureate 2013 Project. The poem is read by the author, and was filmed in Dudley. Length: 3:13.

‘Black Delph, Black Delph, my girl she floats,/ her bridesmaids: eels and voles and stoats. // Snuff your lantern / Hear her sing’

Ian Duhig’s poem Grand Union Bridge returns to Paddington Basin, and the ‘old black canal’ of the poet’s adolescence. Full of transgressive glamour and a sense of a dark kind of magic, Alastair Cook’s filmpoem was commissioned by the Poetry Society in partnership with the Canal & River Trust as part of the Canal Laureate 2013 Project. The poem is read by the author. Length: 4:50.

‘Some winters, the Cut grew a glass skin: / you could see through it now, a window / on the film-maker’s alchemical darkroom.’

The Water Doesn’t Move, the Past Does is Ian McMillan’s canal poem, commissioned as one of four filmpoems by the Poetry Society in partnership with the Canal & River Trust as part of the Canal Laureate 2013 Project. Rooted in place and history, his poem explores the voice of a canal and aqueduct in Stanley Ferry, Wakefield. It was read by the author and filmed by Alastair Cook. Length: 2:31.

‘The aqueduct speaks / In the voice of round here: vowels / Flattened by hammers, words / Shortened like collier’s breath’

Lifted, The Black Delph Bride, Grand Union Bridge and The Water Doesn’t Move the Past Does were made for the Poetry Society by filmmaker and photographer Alastair Cook http://www.alastaircook.com

Commissioned by the Poetry Society, Evaporations is a new filmpoem by Alice Oswald and Chana Dubinski exploring water’s different states. The theme of National Poetry Day 2013 was ‘Water, Water Everywhere’ – this new work was commissioned to celebrate. Director of Photography Andrew Brown, Editor Richard Couzins. Filmed on location in Devon, with thanks to Riverford Organic Farms. Length: 5:56.

‘Yes Yes there is Ice but I notice / The Water doesn’t like it so orderly / What Water admires / Is the slapstick rush of things melting’

small lines on the great earth by filmmaker artist and filmmaker Edward O’Donnelly with poet and writer Malcolm Ritchie who lives and works on the island of Arran was filmed there in one day in short, condensed one-take sequences, echoing the brevity and spontaneity of each poem. Edward O’Donnelly’s previous work includes editing a series of short films documenting cultural links between Kolkata, India and Scotland with artist Kenny Munro. Titles: ‘Language of Rivers and Leaves”, linking Sir Patrick Geddes with Rabindranath Tagore. Malcolm Ritchie’s Poetry includes some small lines on the great earth and in these lines is my reclusion, both published by Longhouse Publishing, Vermont.

Two films by Alessandro Tedde, filmmaker and co-founder of the first open school of cinema in Italy of readings by two Italian poets, Giuseppe Bellosi and Nevio Spadoni. The first was filmed in the library of Sala d’Attorre, Ravenna before a public lecture, and the second was shot on the stage of Rasi Theater in Ravenna, the apse of a former church built in 1250. Both films were made exclusively to be screened at StAnza 2014. Alessandro Tedde’s first official short, Paths of Memory, was screened at various Italian festivals, and 2011 with his brother Francesco he created a project on seven DVDs about the Italian region of Romagna, its poets and its past.

A Poet’s Life is about Dutch poet Arnold Jansen op de Haar. In 1994, before the fall of the Srebrenica enclave he was on active service in the former Yugoslavia as the commanding officer of a UN unit. He left the Dutch Grenadier Guards in 1995 to become a full-time poet and columnist. He has been a columnist for more than ten years and writes a weekly column for Holland Park Press. His new poetry collection Loving Mercilessly (Meedogenloos Liefhebben) will be published in the autumn of 2014. The film was made by Holland Park Press which publishes literary fiction and poetry with emphasis on promoting Dutch authors to the English language world

Tasting Notes: Poet Matthew Stewart lives in Extremadura, Spain, where he works as the export manager and blender for a local winery, VinaOliva. In the film the poet reads poems amongst the vineyards. His collection Tasting Notes from HappenStance Press was launched in London at the Poetry Book Fair. It was a unique launch, in that the poetry about wine was delivered as the audience tasted the wine itself.

Ours thanks to The Poetry Society, Alastair Cook, Edward O’Donnelly, Malcolm Ritchie, Alessandro Tedde, Silvana Siviero, Matthew Stewart and Holland Park Press.

Split Screen – Do Not Adjust Your Set!

12 Mar

Guest blogger Andy Jackson explains how his new anthology, inspired by cult film and TV, came about. It’s being launched at StAnza and promises to be an entertaining event. Where else would Callan meet The Clangers in verse?

Poetry habitually takes its inspiration from the great themes – love, loss, beauty, the human condition. All noble concepts, but sometimes you just want to write about the silly fripperies of life that please and excite you. Dancing. Chocolate. Uma Thurman. Yet, somehow, unless your poem reaches for some deeper ideas that address the spirituality of chocolate or the universal language of dancing, you sometimes feel you’ve written about…well, nothing of much importance.

I was born in the 1960s, and I therefore grew up knowing the presenters of Blue Peter (in order), the names of the crew of the Trumpton Fire Engine and all the words to all the songs in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I should have been out playing in the dubious Manchester sunshine, but I was usually glued to the box or fidgeting in the darkness of my local single-screen cinema.

About eighteen months ago I observed a conversation on Facebook between Salt Publishing’s Chris Hamilton-Emery and Yorkshire’s suavest poet Tim Turnbull, who challenged each other to write a short poem about a cult TV programme of the 60s or 70s. Chris chose US series Mission Impossible while Tim went for Lew Grade’s espionage thriller The Champions. This was the kind of poetry I’d been writing in my own head since childhood, but here were two fearless and savvy writers who weren’t afraid to publish their poetry on these most populist of topics. And I mean proper poetry!

I felt there must be more poets out there who longed to write about the TV or the movies they loved, so after discussion with Red Squirrel’s Kevin Cadwallender, the idea for Split Screen was born.

I drew up a list of sixty themes, pairing up the likes of Camberwick Green with the Clangers, Ealing Comedy with Bollywood and Walmington-on-Sea with Weatherfield. I invited poets I knew and respected to pick a theme on which to write a poem of up to 30 lines. Word travelled around and I found poets contacting me asking, and occasionally pleading, to have a go, even suggesting their own themes in some cases. The resulting poems from the likes of Ian McMillan, George Szirtes, W N Herbert and Annie Freud were as diverse they were entertaining.

To keep with the TV & movie theme, I decided that we could punctuate the book with short poems inspired by adverts included as ‘commercial breaks’. This part of the book was an open section, and I selected 10 advert poems from the 50 or so which I received. Add to this a couple of poems at the end about the Closedown and the White Dot, and you have Split Screen – poems inspired by film and television.

Split Screen will be launched with a multimedia reading on the Sunday afternoon of this year’s StAnza festival, with a stellar cast of poets (and some reading in public for the first time). Compiling and editing it has been the most fun I’ve had in poetry. Why not come along on Sunday 18th March at 2.15pm and listen to poetry that unashamedly wears its cultural influences on its sleeve.

Our thanks to Andy Jackson: http://www.soutarwriters.co.uk/andyjackson/

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