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Posts from the ‘PoetryFilm Archive’ Category

SEEING SOUND symposium, Bath Spa University: “The PoetryFilm Archive: Sounds of Poetry + Poetry of Sounds”

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I’m delighted to be presenting a paper at the Seeing Sound symposium at Bath Spa University on 9-10 April 2016, featuring sound-informed artworks from the PoetryFilm Archive.

Seeing Sound is an informal practice-led symposium exploring multimedia work which foregrounds the relationship between sound and image. It explores areas such as visual music, abstract cinema, experimental animation, audiovisual performance and installation practice through paper sessions, screenings, performances and installations.

PoetryFilm Archive: The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by Martin Pickles and Mikey Georgeson

The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock was premiered at PoetryFilm Paradox at The Groucho Club on 13 December 2015, a venue in the heart of Soho where, as it happens, the work was filmed.

The poem recording was made to celebrate the 100th anniversary of T.S. Eliot’s 1915 poem. In the accompanying film, a man and a woman fail to meet, despite their paths crossing on the neon streets of Soho. The special Super 8 stock (200 ASA Kodak Security Film) was negative rather than positive, and it is this that lends the film a beige ambiance, reflecting Eliot’s “yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes.”

Poem by T.S. Eliot (1915)
Voice and Music by Mikey Georgeson (2015)
Produced by David M. Allen
Encouraged by Simon Indelicate
Film by Martin Pickles (2015)
The Man: Pat Reid
The Woman: Leslie Cummins
Edited from Super 8 film shot in Soho, Piccadilly and Belgravia in 1999
Film stock: 200 ASA Kodak Security Film created by Alan Doyle
Telecine by Lux

Click to play.

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PoemFields: Visual(is)ing Poetry with 1960s Computer Graphics – AT&T Archive

From 1964 through around 1969, artist Stan VanDerBeek worked with computer scientist Ken Knowlton on a series of films:

PoemField No. 1 (1965)
PoemField No. 2 (1966) (this one, with a free jazz soundtrack by Paul Motian)
PoemField No. 3 (1967)
PoemField No. 4 (no date)
PoemField No. 5 (1967)
PoemField No. 6 (no date)
PoemField No. 7 (1971)
PoemField No. 8 (no date)
Collido-Oscope (1966) (VanDerBeek, Knowlton and Bosche)
Man and His World, 1967 (shown at Expo ’67)

Each film was constructed using Knowlton’s BEFLIX computer language, which was based on FORTRAN. The films were programmed on a IBM 7094 computer. The films were created in black and white, with colour added later by Brown and Olvey. This particular version is taken from a film with some colour decay.

VanDerBeek passed away in 1984. He is also part of the film Incredible Machine, made in 1968. VanDerBeek was part of a unique program at Bell Labs that allowed artists to work with computer scientists in order to explore and advance the technology in the fields of computer graphics and music. The program was given tacit approval by department head John Robinson Pierce, yet was not a formal arrangement within the Labs.

Footage Courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ

Zata Banks invited to contribute to the AHRC-funded “Pararchive” Conference at Leeds University

I am delighted to have been invited to contribute an academic presentation called The PoetryFilm Archive 2002-2015 to the Pararchive Conference at Leeds University.

This AHRC-funded conference and community showcase marks the climax of an eighteen-month multidisciplinary research project entitled Pararchive: Open Access Community Storytelling and the Digital Archive. The project is based at the School of Media and Communication, University of Leeds and  seeks to build new interactive environments that explore issues of ownership, public and institutional relationships and provide tools for collaborative community research and creative expression using digital heritage resources.

Many thanks to the team at Pararchive for the invitation.

Friday 27th March 2015 – Saturday 28th March 2015

stage@leeds, University of Leeds

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PoetryFilm Archive: Érik Bullot (interview article)

Faux Amis by Érik Bullot was shown at PoetryFilm Equinox in September 2014. Another of his films, Tongue Twisters, is also in the PoetryFilm Archive. Below is an insightful interview with Érik Bullot* about language, sound and cinema.

In your artistic research, language and voice seem to be central themes. When and how did this interest start?

I have been always interested by the issue of language, especially the topic of imaginary languages. As you know, the medium of film was originally imagined as an universal language or esperanto. It was a political dream. When I began making films, I made many silent films with the purpose to get a visual language. During my first film made in video, I was very struck by the relationships between video and writing. I think there is a continuity between these different mediums. Video is a kind of writing machine. I made a first film, Speaking in Tongues (2005), based on imaginary languages. It was the first step of a series of films about translation, misunderstandings and puns: Tongue Twisters (2011), about tongue twisters, shot in Berkeley; Faux amis(2012), a film about false friends between French and English, shot in Buffalo; Geographical Fugue (2013), based on a musical piece by Ernst Toch; The Alphabet Revolution (2014), a documentary about the change of alphabet in Turkey. There are always many languages in my film. I like to use linguistic elements as plastic material likely to be deformed, transformed, translated. My dream is making slapstick films with language.

You mainly work with visual media, such as video, photographs, texts and performances. What are your artistic references for what regards sound?

I am interested by artists which work is located between visual and sound fields. I was very impressed for example by the blind avantgarde film made by the German artist and filmmaker Walther Ruttmann, Weekend: a black screen with just a sound piece on the soundtrack. I like very much the works of Cage (Roaratorio) and Kagel (his film Ludwig van) and the experimental filmmakers who work on multilingualism as Peter Rose, Werner Nekes or Michael Snow. I have also a strong interest for the linguistic dimension of slapstick tradition, especially the films of Marx Brothers where you can see a ventriloguist situation between the three brothers.

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PoetryFilm Archive: “Full Stop” by Zata Banks

Click to watch Full Stop. The poem (from a sequence of “punctuation poems” published in Doppelgängers in 2005) is transcreated and presented aurally as Morse Code and visually as a moving telegram. (4 minutes, sound).

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PoetryFilm Archive: Big Moth by Simon McLennan

Experimental film and sound collage with a spoken poem about embodying a moth. Original Super8 footage with found sound and spoken text.

Big Moth

PoetryFilm Archive: How Much Does the Shadow of an Orange Weigh? by Wesley Rickert

Typewriter text manuscript of the eponymous poetry film.

 How Much Does the Shadow of an Orange Weigh?

PoetryFilm Archive: Standard of Truth by Daniel Dugas

“Standard of Truth is a video about archives and innocence. Children do not have any archives; they are born free. They do not have to worry about all those boxes of papers stating this or that truth, they do not have to pay storage fees, or check the levels of relative humidity in the vaults. The past has not yet arrived. They have nothing else than life ahead of them. The meaning that flows in their veins is not saturated with antibodies; they are made of oxygen. Maybe that is why they have big smiles.” – Daniel Dugas

Standard of Truth

PoetryFilm Archive: “Floaters in the Eye” by Antoinette Zwirchmayr

The text of Paul Celan’s poem Schliere (Floaters) is printed with a Braille writing machine onto black leader, translating it into Braille writing. The 16mm film is readable to a blind person through physical touch, though projected onto the screen the writing transforms into an unidentifiable code of bright spots.

A blind person can read the 16mm film through physical touch, though can’t see the film projected; a sighted person can see the film projected, though can’t read the visual Braille poem – a paradox particularly appropriate in relation to Celan’s key themes of language and trauma.


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PoetryFilm Archive: Dart by Marc Tiley and Alice Oswald

The poetry film Dart by Marc Tiley is an abridged version of Alice Oswald’s poem.


PoetryFilm Archive: Ruckenfigurphone by Sellotape Cinema

Sellotape Cinema are artists Stephen Snell and Steven Chamberlain. Sellotape Cinema creates film worked directly onto sticky tape and played through a specially adapted projector.


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PoetryFilm Archive: Holes in the Mountain by Kai Carlson-Wee

Holes in the Mountain is a poetry film by Kai Carlson-Wee, shot during a freight hopping trip from Oakland to Portland with his brother in the summer of 2014. Through video, photography, poetry, and music, the film creates an associative narrative structure that seeks to explore rural American landscapes, spiritual poverty, and the experience of traveling by freight. The poem has been published in The Missouri Review.

Holes in the Mountain

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PoetryFilm Archive: My Shadow: An Illusion of Me by Karl F. Stewart

The film plays with the tension between images of shadows, a text describing shadows, and an audio independent from the images and text.

My Shadow: an Illusion of Me

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PoetryFilm Archive: The Word City by Eduardo Romaguera

 ‘I am particularly interested in poetry in the broadest sense, that’s the key to my artistic work. Poetry for me is also a learning process and a search in the understanding of the other. Other objects, other persons.’

For a number of years Eduardo Romaguera considered giving his work another name: ‘Explorador would have been a good one. I believe “explorador” better reflects the work I’m doing.’

The Word City

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PoetryFilm Archive: Dreams of Evolution by Nick Bolton/Kate Toon

“I can think of nothing sadder than a goldfish in a bowl. Swimming in tight circles, such a lonely fishy soul…”

Dreams of Evolution

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PoetryFilm Archive: Timeless Time by Laura Focarazzo

Timeless Time invokes a time outside of time where it is not possible to establish whether events have happened or are about to happen, if they are something imagined or a vague attempt to recapture that which lived before falling into the land of oblivion. Text excerpts are from the film Last Year at Marienbad by Alain Resnais (1961). The film is part of the international audio/visual project: Exquisite, What?TimelessTime

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PoetryFilm Archive: Lapiths and Centaurs by Frank Müller

In Greek mythology, the battle between the Centaurs and the Lapiths reflects the battle between civilised society and wild behaviour.

Lapiths and Centaurs

PoetryFilm Archive: “Every Morning She’d Leave Me” by Victoria Bean

Every Morning She’d Leave Me is the story of an ordinary man with an extraordinary history: his life in London in the 1960s underworld has been captured in a series of concrete poems created using his own words. Part poetry, part social document, the film features language from another time: watches on a villain’s wrists are “kettles” and dollars are “Oxford scholars”. The film is an animation set in American Typewriter Light.

I 2

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PoetryFilm Archive: a poem by Sophie Mayer inspired by “Je Suis Ici”

Two Scenarios for Short Films: Je Suis Ici

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[poem continues below]

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PoetryFilm Archive: “Je Suis Ici” by Ben Crowe

Je Suis Ici IMAGE LSFF 09 web[5]


The PoetryFilm Archive collection

The PoetryFilm Archive is a fully catalogued hard (physical) archive. Selected film stills, photographs, links, images and texts from the collection are featured here in the “PoetryFilm Archive” category.


PoetryFilm Archive: “Scouts Are Cancelled” by John Stiles

Scouts Are Cancelled Main Production Still


This is a film still from Scouts Are Cancelled, a documentary following poet John Stiles.


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PoetryFilm Archive: “I, Sisyphus” by Adam Alive

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I, Sisyphus is a modern retelling of the myth of Sisyphus.

PoetryFilm Archive: Dream Poem by Dann Casswell

Dream Poem is in the PoetryFilm Archive and has been screened at a number of events. It was first screened at the PoetryFilm event at Tate Britain in April 2006, where Zata curated a programme on the theme of Dream.

Director’s Statement:

“In dreams it’s impossible to read the same thing twice and not have it change on you. In 2006 I made this poem from the perspective of someone who is having a fitful night’s sleep and is worried about their relationship, about loneliness, about death.  The film was once played for the Sultan of Brunei, whose daughter is dyslexic. He actually sent me a sword to say thank you. It was all very strange. I still love it dearly, so I hope you enjoy it as much as the Sultan did. Please don’t send me any more swords.” – Dann Casswell

Biography: Dann Casswell

Since creating Dream Poem in 2006, Dann Casswell has worked full-time for the BBC on local radio, for BBC Children in Need and organising creative BBC Outreach projects in his home town of Bristol. He has had work published in various short story outlets and has had work commissioned by BBC Radio 4. Dann is now a director of where he works running the animation channel, writing, producing and directing beautiful short films and high-end communications for corporate and charity clients.


Dream Poem is a valuable example of a text-on-screen poetry film that could never be experienced in this way as written text on paper, or as spoken text. Even if each of the text iterations were transcribed into a sequence of concrete poems, the reader certainly would be able to read the words, but would not have the same experience as watching this ninety-second film.

The structure of Dream Poem alludes to secondary revision in psychoanalysis. “Secondary revision” is the expression Freud uses for the final stage of dream production: after the dreamer undergoes one or more of the four dreamwork processes (displacement, condesnsation, symbolization, projection), the dreamer then undergoes the secondary processes of the ego in which the more bizarre components of the dream are re-organized in order to present the dream with a comprehensible surface meaning. This surface meaning, once arrived at through secondary revision, is the manifest dream.

Part of the experience of watching Dream Poem is that there is not quite enough time to read the full text on the screen. Halfway through reading the text on the screen, that text changes, sometimes with surreal replacement words, like a glitch in the system. The text changes again, and again. The viewer questions whether what was read moments before was actually there. One questions one’s own perception. The word “Switzerland” changes to “Swindon”, for instance. The experience of scrambling to read all the text on the screen before it disappears is very similar to the act of trying to remember a dream that is slipping away upon waking, and perhaps this is frustrating; however, one of Dream Poem’s strengths is that creates within us an experience.

[Zata Kitowski]


PoetryFilm Archive: “The Girl Chewing Gum” by John Smith


“The Girl Chewing Gum” – screened at PoetryFilm: Sounds of Love on Saturday 19 July 2014 at 7:45pm at the Southbank Centre.

PoetryFilm Archive: “Letter” by Eduardo Kac

KAC letter still


“Letter”, Eduardo Kac, 1996

A navigational poem that presents the viewer with the image of a three-dimensional spiral jetting off the center of a two-dimensional spiral. Both spirals are made exclusively of text. The reader is able to grab and spin this cosmic verbal image in all directions. Thus, reading becomes a process of probing the virtual object from all possible angles. The reader is also able to fly through and around the object, thus expanding reading possibilities. In “Letter” a spiraling cone made of words can be interpreted as both converging to or diverging from the flat one. Together they may evoke the creation or destruction of a star. All texts are created as if they were fragments of letters written to the same person. However, in order to convey a particular emotional sphere, the author conflated the subject positions of grandmother, mother, and daughter into one addressee. It is not possible to distinguish to whom each fragment is addressed. The poem makes reference to moments of death and birth in the poet’s family. Letter is presented here as video documentation of an interactive reading experience. – EK

PoetryFilm Archive: “The Girl Chewing Gum” by John Smith


“The Girl Chewing Gum” – screened at PoetryFilm: Sounds of Love on Saturday 19 July 2014 at 7:45pm at the Southbank Centre.

PoetryFilm Archive: 3 Film Stills from “Dream Poem” by Dann Casswell


Dream Poem.Still003


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PoetryFilm Archive: “Proem” by Suzie Hanna – first screened at PoetryFilm at Laugharne Castle in June 2014



Directed by Suzie Hanna © Dec 2013


Animation by Suzie Hanna

Sound Design by Tom Simmons

Poem by Harold Hart Crane (1930)

Voice by Tennessee Williams (1960)

(Permission for use given by HarperCollins)


This short film illustrates and interprets Hart Crane’s ‘Proem To Brooklyn Bridge’ (1930) using a direct animated stencil technique reflecting graphic styles of the period, the evocative voice of Tennessee Williams (a great admirer of Hart Crane’s work) and original sound design. This is an interdisciplinary contribution to research into cultural representations of literature and literary figures through animation and sound design, underpinned by study of Hart Crane’s creative process and his use of metaphor.

This Poetry Animation is a representation of Hart Crane’s iconic ‘Proem’ from his epic work ‘The Bridge’. Suzie Hanna animated the film using hand cut stencils imitating some graphic aspects of contemporaneous 1920s New York artists who were in Hart Crane’s coterie, such as Joseph Stella and Marsden Hartley. She also referenced Vorticism to capture vertiginous aspects of the verse. The voice of Tennessee Williams, who was an ardent admirer of Crane, is taken from a 1960 recording. Tom Simmons has built this into a resonant dramatic soundscape which interprets the materiality of the bridge, the surrounding land and waterscape and the ‘prayerful’ qualities of the Proem. He embeds sonic references to Hart Crane’s ‘shamanic process’ in which the poet played records on his Victrola, including Ravel’s ‘Bolero’, loudly and repeatedly, whilst drinking heavily and typing phrases in manic bursts. The film is part of ongoing research into representation of poetic metaphor, between Sally Bayley, Tom Simmons and Suzie Hanna: their recent article ‘Thinking Metaphorically and Allegorically: A Conversation between the fields of Poetry, Animation and Sound’ was published in Autumn 2013 in the Journal of American Studies. A further installment has been commissioned for publication in Spring 2014.


Director’s biography and filmography

Professor Suzie Hanna teaches at Norwich University of the Arts. She is an animator working with mixed media across analogue and digital interfaces, who collaborates with other academics and artists, and whose research interests include animation, poetry, puppetry and sound design. She has made numerous short films all of which have been commissioned, selected for international festival screenings, TV broadcast or exhibited in curated shows. She contributes to journals, books and conferences, and has led several innovative projects including animated online international student collaborations and digital exhibitions of art and poetry on Europe’s largest public HiDef screen.

Recent animations include a book trailer ‘Spells’ for American poet Annie Finch, ‘Letter to the World’, commissioned by the Emily Dickinson International Society, animated theatrical scenery for a production of The Tinderbox, an animated Madonna figure for a 30 foot high projection commissioned by Norwich Cathedral, ‘The Girl who would be God’ commissioned for Sylvia Plath Conference at Oxford University and ‘Man-Moth Merz’ for screening at poet Elisabeth Bishop centenary celebrations in Nova Scotia.

The ‘Proem’ film is part of ongoing research into representation of poetic metaphor, between Sally Bayley, Tom Simmons and Suzie Hanna: their recent article ‘Thinking Metaphorically and Allegorically: A Conversation between the fields of Poetry, Animation and Sound’ was published in Autumn 2013 in the Journal of American Studies. A further instalment has been commissioned for publication in Spring 2014.


Poet’s biography

Harold Hart Crane was a Modernist American poet, most famous for his epic work ‘The Bridge’. He was born in 1899, and after his tragic early suicide in 1932 he became recognised as a legendary figure in American poetry. He indulged in frequent bouts of serious alcohol abuse and risked casual sex with sailors, but despite suffering from low self-esteem, he wrote optimistic poetry. He was a follower of Whitman’s American Romanticism, and was concerned with themes of redemption and damnation. He was in a coterie of active, and later influential, artists and writers in 1920s New York, and the archive of his considerable correspondence is held at Columbia University.