Process and Metaphor
Sarah Tremlett at The Poetics and Poetry Network of North West Universities Symposium January 2017
In January I was invited by Dr Judy Kendall of The University of Salford to take part in the Poetics and Poetry Network (of North West Universities) Symposium on the theme of Poetry Film. I gave an overview of the subject, discussing my own work and included artists such as Meriel Lland (who by great good fortune chanced to come along and was able to answer questions on her own work without any preparation!) and naturally featured work by Marc Neys.
With clearly a rich research community, thought-provoking content and insightful films, discussion flowed throughout the day. Dalia Neis introduced her research into cinepoetics in relation to wind, and the authorial challenges of voicing multiple roles in solo research projects. And thoughts on such as non-metaphorical poetry filmmaking rose to the surface, following my drawing attention to the subject in Marc’s work.
Helen Mort, Tom Jenks, Michael Symmons Roberts all gave insights into their working processes: Tom Jenks on working to a commission and how he achieved layerings of found sound and Michael Symmons Roberts interviewed by Martin Kratz revealed the intricacies of working between poetry and TV documentary – keep an eye out for one that is in production, potentially screening later this year. I was particularly interested in Helen Mort’s film Dear Alison – see below – and hearing her views on the process of making a poetry film in terms of rock climbing, landscape and voice. Both Judy Kendall (writing on the influence of Eastern poetry) and Helen are included in the forthcoming book.
In terms of listening to discussions on process, for me, the stories about making stories – the ‘what really happened’ revelations of any story-makers, the happy accidents and the forced choices of poetry filmmaking are as fascinating as the final, ‘finished’ result. And of course what is so liberating about poetry films is that there is no absolute structure and no absolute finishing point; even if they serve as political flares or contain dramatic narrative they are often (and are allowed to be) emotional archaeology: fissures of feeling caught in mid-flight – not only a point in time and space but also a reading of the healthy functioning of the soul.