• Poetry
  • Poetry Film
  • Geopoetics
  • Videopoetry
  • Film Poetry
  • Intermedia
  • Screen Poetry
  • Ekphrastic Poetry Films
  • Family History
  • Ecopoetry Films
  • Translation
  • Performance and Subjectivity

The Poetics… &  Projections : The Journal for Movies and Mind; The Palgrave Handbook of Intermediality and the RSA.

I am delighted to say that The Poetics of Poetry Film is gaining a steady presence even three years after its initial publication. I can’t mention all the emails and endorsements of the book I have had, however here are a few  diverse examples. I am proud to say that some time ago it was accepted by the Royal Society of Arts library in London, where I am a Fellow. I feel very pleased that poetry film is now represented in such an institution; particularly as it is so suited to showcasing engagement with ethical and social principles via cultural practice.

The Palgrave Handbook of Intermediality

More recently, I am thrilled to have been quoted and cited from the book by leading scholar Dr Rebecca Kosick, Senior Lecturer in Comparative Poetry and Poetics at Bristol University, UK. The Poetics of Poetry Film is included in the video poetry section in her extensively researched, 30-page chapter (plus 4-page references) entitled ‘Late Twentieth-Century Intermedia Poetry in the Americas’. This, in turn makes up an important part of the mighty The Palgrave Handbook of Intermediality, by J. Bruhn et al. (eds.), December, 2023. NB: If you want to buy this weighty tome it will set you back around £500! From my own point of view this chapter brings up some of the work that I researched some time ago from a different angle, and reflects back on my interest in historic poetic forms, the use of rhythm, and the crossover between lyric and visual poetry which we also now find in poetry film.

Kosick provides an in-depth analysis of the how of diverse historic poetry(ies)) and their ancestral DNA as precursors for the intermedia world today. American poet, artist, publisher and co-founder of the Fluxus movement Dick Higgins first coined the term ‘intermedia’ in a 1965 essay. Later he completed ‘Some Poetry Intermedia’ (1976) – an expressive, pinky-purple spiral diagram, dynamically expressing his thinking (a form of visual manifesto) on the intersection of different poetic forms. In a winning intellectual move, Kosick takes Higgins’ categories in this diagram and draws attention to how the malleability of poetry at the end of the twentieth century paves the way for the intermedia revolution that followed.

Following Higgins, she includes sections on: Visual Poetry (including Concrete); Object Poetry; Sound Poetry; Video Poetry (which features TPOPF); Action Poetry; Postal Poetry and Concept Poetry. As I know from my own research across certain of these categories, the identifying and interweaving of poetry in all its forms is a rigorous yet compelling subject, made richer by the many literary lights from the past re-invigorating or brightening the journey. For instance, Samuel Taylor Coleridge is cited as using the term ‘intermedia’ as far back as 1812,  and examples of poets / poetry groups include a cross-section from the expected Brazil’s Noigandres group to the Cuban publishing collective Ediciones Vigía, Chilean poet/artist Cecilia Vicuña, Mexican artist Ulises Carrión, US poet N.H. Pritchard, and Brazilian artist Leonara de Barros.

In terms of video poetry in particular, she engages in some of the questions I have asked and extends them:

Such distinctions are evident when considering concrete poetry’s “appeal to

non-verbal communication” and its desire to break with a “merely temporalistic linear”

poetic structure (de Campos et al. 1965: 157, 156). Whereas early waves of

concrete poetry sought an immediacy of poetic perception akin to the way viewers

might take in a painting all at once, for video poetry, a linear experience of time on

the part of the viewer overlies even the most nonsequential or nonnarrative “content”

it might convey. In this way, video poetry returns the visual/spatial aspects of

concrete poetry to a tradition perhaps more temporally akin to literature or film

than to the visual or plastic arts. Yet this same fact can offer opportunities to the

intermedium of video poetry. As Tremlett explains, “what makes a poetry film so

unique is that the spatio-temporal visual surface or monstration, descending from the

graphic arts, is as powerful or more powerful than the sequential trajectory inherited

from the traditional dramatic film” (Tremlett 2021: 79). Thus, while a lengthened

temporality may seem to be restored from the perspective of visual poetry’s turn

toward video, from the perspective of film, poetry – particularly poetry related to the

visual arts – offers alternatives to the narrative sequentiality dominant in more

mainstream cinema.

Kosick breathes new life into the subject with diverse associations and lesser-known artists – bookending the 1950s and 60s (including Allan Kaprow and ‘Happenings’ or embodied Action Poetry) up to the digital era. I found her section on Action Poetry really edifying. In relation to this she particularly cites Mary Ellen Solt’s 1968 work PEOPLEMOVER in part generated by the anger against American policies in relation to Vietnam. Here poetry was expressed through such channels as: found language, multiple iterations, vocal performance readings, demonstrations and text on screen. I liked Kosick’s selection of the definition ‘poetry put into action, a kind of poetic action-research that intends to change social life in a poetic way’ (Tochon 2000: n.p.).

From the radical use of the mechanical typewriter, and the concept of the object poem (and the book itself as object), or sound poetry where sound beyond syntax creates composition, throughout this chapter Kosick continually asks us to conceive of how intermedia poetry came and continues to come into being, providing another vital stepping stone in this fascinating journey.

Projections: The Journal for Movies and Mind

Finally, I am thrilled to announce that an important, insightful and well-rounded review of the book has been included in a recent issue of Projections: The Journal for Movies and Mind, Volume 17, Issue 2, June 2023, pp: 101–105 (published in association with The Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image: https://scsmi-online.org/). I felt I would share their remit for the journal which Recognizes cinema as an art form, and aims to integrate established traditions of analyzing media aesthetics with current research into perception, cognition, and emotion, according to frameworks supplied by philosophy of mind, phenomenology, psychology, and the cognitive-and neurosciences.’ I do feel that poetry film has much to offer across these categories, in its often highly subjective role as ‘visualised mindscape’ of the author-filmmaker.

I am delighted to say that this sterling overview is by Professor Rebecca A. Sheehan who is a leading academic in Cinema Studies in the Department of Cinema and Television Arts at California State University. Her important publication American Avant-Garde Cinema’s Philosophy of the In-Between (Oxford University Press, 2020) addresses the intersections between post-WWII American Avant-Garde cinema and the emerging field of Film-Philosophy. Her numerous essays in film theory include philosophies of embodiment and women’s experimental cinema – such profound and rich seams today. On behalf of everyone involved, I couldn’t feel more privileged that the book has found its way into her hands and merited her time and consideration. Thank you, Rebecca.

Here is an extract of the review:

‘Sarah Tremlett’s The Poetics of Poetry Film: Film Poetry, Videopoetry, Lyric Voice, Reflection offers a breathtaking range of glimpses at the historical flashpoints, formal anatomy, and major and minor contemporary makers and trends in what Tremlett alternately calls film poems and poetry film (and their sister, video poetry). […] The book is impressively comprehensive in its representation and acknowledgment of the wide diversity of formal experiments and elements that constitute the history and present of “poetry film,”. […] The Poetics of Poetry Film should serve as an important resource for scholars and filmmakers interested in contemporary aesthetic trends in this interdisciplinary field. It also offers an important archive of festivals and conferences on poetry film through its inclusion of interviews with festival organizers and writings by contemporary filmmakers working at the intersection of poetry and film.’

 Rebecca A. Sheehan, Projections: The Journal for Movies and Mind