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

REELpoetry, Houston April 1–7 live and online – many voices

It really feels that REELpoetry has come of age this year, both online – over a week – and in-person on the weekend, you have a full house of varied poetry filmmaking nurtured by now well-established director Fran Sanders and her inclusive programming. All films are accessible to the deaf and hard-of-hearing, with a rich provision of ASL performances from Douglas Ridloff + Deaf Slam, Heba Toulan and Sabina England.

This week-long event showcases 100+ screenings under 6 minutes from 20 different countries. Connect with international curators and presenters in real time online, and in-person on the weekend; watch world premieres from Houston creatives; experience ASL poetry and performances; join use for two fabulous after parties.


This festival creates a unique fusion of personal and political activist filmmaking served up with party atmosphere hospitality. I have been involved for quite a few years, both as an exhibitor, juror and curator and seen it go from strength to strength. I was presenting there in 2020 just before COVID struck and Fran and the team treated us right royally, including memorable trips, enjoying Houston’s multicultural oases. So, if not just for the festival I do recommend getting over there if you can!

In an Ideal World I’d Not Be Murdered, Chaucer Cameron

I am really sad to miss the live events this year. Alongside the highly successful collaboration between Houston poets and filmmakers (in its second year) you can meet in person international curators such as Helen Dewbery (Poetry Film Live) presenting Chaucer Cameron’s memories of being a prostitute in London in I Didn’t Die that Day. Or, what about leading US activist poetry filmmakers Outlier Moving Pictures (Pamela Falkenberg and Jack Cochran) who have taken on the mammoth task of making poetry films from a selection of leading Texan activist poets in Changing the World One Poem at a Time (Texas edition). They are one of the finest examples of this genre today, and are soon to be in the UK in Bristol for their Cancer Alley installation with poetry by Lucy English (more on that soon). It is also very interesting to see included Norwegian curation: GEOPOETICON from Odveig Klyve & Bjørn Gulbrandsen featuring language, politics and geography and a wonderful curation from Thomas Zandegiacomo del Bel (who is unable to be there in person unfortunately) on the best of ZEBRA  from Berlin.

Sabina England at the Deaf Muslim Expo, Chicago, 2022

Sufi Poetry in American Sign Language and Dancing

One of the most compelling, engaging and unique live events is by Sabina England, performing Nature, Water, Air, Fire, Earth, based on Sufi Poets and her own work.

She says: ‘I first came up with the concept of creating Sufi poetry in American Sign Language  when I was invited by the Deaf Muslim Expo 2022 in Chicago  to perform for them, and I had never seen anyone perform Sufi poetry for deaf people.

I will be performing four Sufi poems (Kabir, Mahsati Ganjavi, Jalaluddin Rumi, and one poem written by me, respectively). Each poem contains an element inspired by nature: moon/sun, fire, water, and Earth. Kabir’s poem praised the beauty of the moon and sun, which then led to his declaration for loving God (Allah). Mahsati was a Sufi mystic poetess from present-day Azerbaijan who wrote a poem in Persian about fire, comparing it to her burning love for God. Rumi wrote that drinking water didn’t abate his thirst, his desperate love for God. Lastly, my poem is inspired by the emerald forests of Earth. My poem is an ode to Earth, and I compare Earth to our mother, for she sustains us and provides us food from the soil. Mother Earth keeps the cycle of life going.

Although these Sufi poems are religious in nature and speak of the poets’ love for Allah and I am Muslim, I still want the poetry to be open for everyone, regardless of their religion or beliefs. These Sufi poems can be interpreted in so many ways – readers can view the poets’ divine love as love and respect for each other, for the universe, for humanity, and so on.

I will be incorporating some dancing with feather fans and American Sign Language. My dancing will show movements of nature – basking in the moonlight, the swaying movements of fire, the flowing of water, and walking through the forest. While signing the poetry in American Sign Language, I will take pauses and dance around, with some signing in my hands. I also project videos of nature onscreen to display the visual beauty of nature. My goal is to deeply inspire the audience and bring them some happiness, light and joy.’

This Was Meant to be For Nora, Moving Poems in the City, Vancouver.


Events online have two time zone options for different parts of the world this year, which is a real bonus, something I advocated, as the one disadvantage is missing some of the screenings from the UK. I am particularly looking forward to seeing Moving Poems in the City – (April 3, 12–1 and 7–8) presented by Vancouver Poet Laureate Fiona Tinwei Lam and Alger Ji-Liang. This is a 12-strong curation of Vancouver poets and filmmakers who have based their films on sites around the city. I was fortunate enough to be invited as a key speaker and exhibitor at Tom Konyves’ Poets with a Video Camera exhibition in December 2022. Fiona was also part of that and also alongside myself, ran a poetry reading / video screening at The People’s Co-Op Bookstore which I took part in. A memorable occasion. With a serene face on what you have to remember is the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver is a beautiful yet fragile place. Perhaps one of the most desirable cities in the world, it has been pressured as usual with much development. But, walking around you are tantalised by its wealth of culture, and long historic tradition. This curation really feels like the right way to celebrate its hidden stories.

Contrasts, Moving Poems in the City, Vancouver.

On Thursday April 4th we have what I know from past experience, will be a really exciting presentation of ASL video curated by Douglas Ridloff who is also performing live. Also look out for what promises to be a very interesting ASL poetry panel discussion on Friday 1–2. The online section includes the finalists from the open submissions and REELpoetry steering committee member Ian Gibbins will be presenting a ‘Video Jukebox’ of new films by festival curators, presenters and judges. Twice daily Monday through Thursday you have the chance to meet artists from the festival  in the REELcafe chat rooms hosted by Fran Sanders. This includes my film Flight, a film from a series about my childhood (also a poetry book commission). It is one of those personal films that percolate up slowly, and nudged into being made by a comment from Helen Dewbery, and a continuing working relationship with the inspiring poet / poetry filmmaker Linda Cleary.

Ekphrasis – art-inspired Poetry Filmmaking

On Tuesday April 2nd, you will find my documentary film on the Frame to Frames : Your Eyes Follow book-film project published by Poem Film Editions, where five poetry filmmakers from the bilingual book and 17-film QR-linked screening (launched at FOTOGENIA festival in December 2023) discuss how a painting can inspire their poetry filmmaking. The artists are: Janet Lees, Pamela Falkenberg, Jack Cochran, Meriel Lland and myself. Not only do we discuss art inspiring art but also translation, both through language (English and Spanish) but also in relation to intermedia – the linked poetry book & film and the source painting. Many of the films were based on leading Mexican non-binary artist Ana Segovia’s painting Huapango Torero – which confronts bullfighting and animal cruelty in a sensitive and important way.

The Frame to Frames : Your Eyes Follow documentary screenings are: TUESDAY, APRIL 2nd: 12-1.00 CST / 5-6 p.m. GMT and 7-8 p.m. CST / 12-1 a.m. GMT. If you want to meet filmmakers from Frame to Frames, a group will definitely be available online at the Tuesday REELcafe meeting 2–3 GMT CST / 7-8 p.m.

With such a lot on offer there is something for everyone; and REELpoetry has become a recognised festival on the poetry film calendar.

Please Note: You can buy copies of Frame to Frames : Your Eyes Follow from Poem Film Editions at this very website SOON! Available through liberatedwords.com/store