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“A great event – one of the most interesting and invigorating I have been to this year!” – Arts Council England, 2014

“Founded by artist Zata Banks over a decade ago, the PoetryFilm art project continues to play with the avant-garde” – aqnb, September 2014

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PoetryFilm Paradox: 13 + 22 December 2015



PoetryFilm Paradox

A selection of short film artworks exploring the theme of love + featuring live poetry readings by various poets from Eyewear Publishing on the theme of love.

Part of BFI LOVE, in partnership with Plusnet, this programme is supported by Film Hub London, managed by Film London and proud to be a partner of the BFI Film Audience Network

PoetryFilm Paradox: Sunday 13 December 2015 at The Groucho Club

PoetryFilm Paradox

The Groucho Club

Sunday 13 December 2015, 3pm and 6pm

[N.B. DATE CHANGE from Sunday 6 December]

films about love / armchair seating / a glass of wine


A curated selection of short film artworks exploring the theme of LOVE, chosen for their alignment with poetic structures and experiences, and with the visual, verbal and aural languages of poetry in various forms.

+ featuring live poetry readings by various poets from Eyewear 
Publishing on the theme of love.

 Part of BFI LOVE, in partnership with Plusnet, this programme is supported by Film Hub London, managed by Film London and proud to be a partner of the BFI Film Audience Network.

Tickets for the 3pm screening (includes armchair and a glass of wine)

Tickets for the 6pm screening (includes armchair and a glass of wine)

    FH_LONDON_DARK   Print l  PoetryFilm Logo Square  groucho logo logoEyewearGlassesSmall


The Terrorist, He Watches – Wislawa Szymborska

The bomb will explode in the bar at twenty past one.
Now it’s only sixteen minutes past.
Some will still have time to enter,
some to leave.

The terrorist’s already on the other side.
That distance protects him from all harm
and well it’s like the pictures:

A woman in a yellow jacket, she enters.
A man in dark glasses, he leaves.
Boys in jeans, they’re talking.
Sixteen minutes past and four seconds.
The smaller one he’s lucky, mounts his scooter,
but the taller chap he walks in.

Seventeen minutes and forty seconds.
A girl, she walks by, a green ribbon in her hair.
But that bus suddenly hides her.
Eighteen minutes past.
The girl’s disappeared.
Was she stupid enough to go in, or wasn’t she.
We shall see when they bring out the bodies.

Nineteen minutes past.
No one else appears to be going in.
On the other hand, a fat bald man leaves.
But seems to search his pockets and
at ten seconds to twenty past one
he returns to look for his wretched gloves.

It’s twenty past one.
Time, how it drags.
Surely, it’s now.
No, not quite.
Yes, now.
The bomb, it explodes.

Taken from “Sounds Feelings Thoughts: Seventy Poems” by Wislawa Szymborska, trans. Adam Czermiawski

“Poetry Films: What? How? Why?” Roundtable discussion with Zata Banks at CYCLOP Festival 2015

I have been invited to participate in a roundtable discussion at the CYCLOP Video Poetry Festival on 21 November 2015 in Kiev (Ukraine) about the past, present and future of poetry films. The panel will also include Thomas Zandegiacomo (Germany), Piotr Bosacki (Poland), Artur Punte (Latvia) and others. The full festival programme is below.


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CYCLOP International Jury announces shortlisted films

I was delighted to be on the International Jury for the CYCLOP Video Poetry Festival 2015. The shortlist of 10 films, decided by the jurors, is below. The festival will take place in Kiev (Ukraine) on 21-22 November 2015.

CYCLOP International Videopoetry Contest | Shortlist [40:11]

1. Svetlana Sobcenko «My Own Personal Mountain» [02:40], Ireland. 
Director, poet: Svetlana Sobcenko.

2. Vera Schmidt / OSTPOL e.V. «Viva Violence» [03:05], Germany. 
Director: Katharina Merten, Johanna Maxl. Poet: Johanna Maxl, Katharina Merten.

3. Bagadefente «Poem with Flying Termites & Cheesy Ending» [01:30], Brazil. 
Director, poet: Bagadefente.

4. Marc Neys (aka Swoon) «If I kill Time I take» [03:52], Belgium. 
Director: Swoon. Poet: Mark Insingel.

5. Tommy Becker «song for AWE & DREAD» [06:54], USA. 
Director, poet: Tommy Becker.

6. C.O. Moed and Adrian Garcia Gomez «Fucking Him» [01:45], USA. 
Director: C.O. Moed and Adrian Garcia Gomez. Poet: C.O. Moed.

7. Bruno Teixidor «Platillo Puro» [02:32], Spain. 
Director: Bruno Teixidor. Poet: Tomás Segovia.

8. Susanne Wiegner «the light – the shade» [07:07], Germany. 
Director: Susanne Wiegner. Poet: Robert Lax.

9. Celia Parra Díaz «WordmoviE» [02:46], Spain. 
Director: DSK (Belén Montero & Juan Lesta). Poet: Celia Parra.

10. Dana Goldberg «NO SHADOW» [08:00], Israel. 
Director: Dana Goldberg, Dr. Efrat Mishori. Poet: Dr. Efrat Mishori.

PoetryFilm partners with F-Rating to support women in film

PoetryFilm is delighted to partner with “F-Rating”, a new initiative supporting women in film. Further information supplied by “F-Rating” is below.

Developed by Bath Film Festival and now expanding across the UK, the F-Rating is a new film rating which highlights films made by and featuring women. 

Any film that answers ‘yes’ to one of these questions is awarded the F-Rating stamp of approval.

  1. Does it have a female director?
  1. Is it written by a woman?
  1. Are there significant female characters on screen in their own right?

This classification provides an easily identifiable label to enable moviegoers to “Vote With Your Seat” and support women in film. Visit for more information.

F rated

“Remember Nature” – a worldwide call by Gustav Metzger

4 November 2015




“The art, architecture and design world needs to take a stand against the ongoing erasure of species – even where there is little chance of ultimate success. It is our privilege and our duty to be at the forefront of the struggle. There is no choice but to follow the path of ethics into aesthetics. We live in societies suffocating in waste.” Gustav Metzger, 2015.

Our task is to remind people of the richness and complexity in nature; to protect nature as far as we can and by doing so art will enter new territories that are inherently creative, that are primarily for the good of the universe.

What we want to do – what is ahead for us is to bring together the world of the arts – to unite in having a day of art actions covering the entire country. We call those who engage in the arts to participate in a day of mass action, to create a collective artwork to Remember Nature.*

Here is my contribution to the Remember Nature project – a photograph of giant icicles I took in Iceland.


*Copy taken from the Remember Nature press release.

PoetryFilm: Semiotics and Multimodality

I was recently invited to write an article for poetryfilmkanal’s online and print magazine in Germany. The article is live here and it is also pasted below. Many thanks to the team for the invitation.

PoetryFilm: Semiotics and Multimodality

Poetry films offer creative opportunities for exploring new semiotic modes and for communicating messages and meanings in innovative ways. Poetry films open up new methods of engagement, new audiences, and new means of self-expression, and also provide rich potential for the creation, perception and experience of emotion and meaning.

How do we create meanings? How do we perceive meanings? How do we experience these meanings? In any act of communication there’s a source, a sender, a message, a channel, and a receiver. The poetry film artform provides a means of exploring complex inter-semiotic relationships.

We are surrounded by communicative signs in literature, art, culture and in the world at large. Whilst words represent one system of communicating, there are many other ways of making meanings, for instance, colour semiotics, typographic design, and haptic, olfactive, gustatory and durational experiences – indeed, a comprehensive list could be infinite. The uses of spoken and written words to communicate represent just two approaches among many. Through using meaning-making systems other than words, by communicating without words, or by not using words alone, we can bypass these direct signifiers and tap directly into pools of meaning, or the signifieds, associated with those words. Different combinations of systems, or modes, can reinforce each other, render meanings more complex and subtle, or contrast with each other to illuminate different perspectives. Powerful juxtapositions, associations and new meanings can therefore emerge.

Visual design elements such as shapes and lines can be as effective as letters and words, and design principles are rooted firmly in the psychology of perception, so, there are good reasons why certain elements are more powerful than others. Shapes and forms are essential to visual vocabulary and visual grammar, and knowledge of design rationale and design thinking can help to create stronger visual artworks. It is important to note that absence is as valuable as presence in a semiotic context, for instance, silence is the absence of sound, the aural equivalent of the white space employed by gallery architects and by graphic designers, which can be very effective when used as a strategic element.

In this context, why does there seem to have been such a sudden rise in the popularity of poetry and film hybrids in recent years? Why are more people, Generation Z and beyond, turning to poetry and film to find means of expression in today’s media-saturated society? In the book The Sixth Language, the media ecologist and evolution specialist Robert K. Logan argues that speech, writing, maths, science, computing and internet use form an evolutionary chain of languages,and that new languages arise when information overload occurs, and the previous language can’t cope. New processing systems and new languages become necessary. We could take this idea further by suggesting that perhaps new artforms become necessary.

The term »media ecology« refers to the study of how communication channels affect human perception and understanding. Media ecologists argue that social and political change is actually caused by the current state of communication technology. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, developed by Benjamin Whorf, suggests that not only do language and grammar influence the way we form thoughts, but that language and grammar actually determine our thoughts, and determine our cognitive and perceptual abilities. The idea that the structure of language determines what people are even capable of conceiving is illustrated by George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, in which Newspeak is the fictional language designed to limit freedom of thought. This raises bigger questions … as a result of technological and social changes, is the way we think, and what we arecapable of thinking, changing too?

Crucially, variations occur in the reception of communicated transmissions because all signs need to be interpreted. The receiver of any meaningful transmission, or, any audience of a poetry film artwork, has to decode the full richness of the meaning and its associations through complex cognitive processes. The meanings we send and receive are not fixed. The receiver is fully involved in the decoding, and the decoding is dependent on perception.

Communication has always been multi-modal; however, today we seem to be moving towards an unprecedented consolidation of modes, and technology enables us to navigate these modes more easily. The understanding of semiotics and multimodality provides rich and valuable means for focussing and articulating critical readings of poetry film artworks.

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Zata Banks and Roxana Vilk at The Scottish Poetry Library, 3 December 2015


Enjoy a curated selection of short film artworks, chosen for their alignment with poetic structures and experiences, and with the visual, verbal and aural languages of poetry in various forms introduced by Zata Banks, Director of PoetryFilm, plus a new short film by Roxana Vilk. Award-winning British-Iranian filmmaker Vilk has over the past few years made films about poets from both Britain and the Middle East, not least her acclaimed Poets of Protest series made for Al-Jazeera in 2012. PoetryFilm is the influential research art project founded by Zata Banks in 2002, to explore and exhibit experimental text / image / sound material.

3 December 2015 at 6:30pm
Scottish Poetry Library
5 Crichton’s Close EH8 8DT Edinburgh
£5 / £4
Book via Eventbrite
Call the Scottish Poetry Library on 0131-557-2876

Ruth Sackner R.I.P.

I was very sad to hear that Ruth Sackner passed away last week. When in Miami last year, I was delighted to receive an invitation to visit Ruth and Marvin Sackner to see their extraordinary Sackner Archive of Visual and Concrete Poetry. It was a phenomenal experience. I remember Ruth was wearing alphabet earrings and an alphabet jacket, and she was especially delighted to show off her walk-in wardrobe containing an enormous collection of fabulous letter-clothes. An article from The Miami Herald is pasted below*. Ruth Sackner R.I.P.

*Ruth Sackner didn’t only collect art. She lived it.

Every inch of the Miami condo she shared with her husband, Marvin, was covered with pieces from their art collection, which was all about words.

“I love living in a museum,” she said a few years ago in a short video about the Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry. “In fact when we drive up in our driveway we always say, ‘Home, sweet museum.’”

The collection wasn’t confined to their condo. In 2013, hundreds of pieces from the Sackner collection were put on display at the just-opened Pérez Art Museum Miami in an exhibition called A Human Document: Selections from the Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry.

Ruth Sackner, along with her husband, amassed more than 75,000 pieces of word art, making it the largest collection in the world. She died in her sleep Saturday at 79.

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