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

Journeys into the Archive, from Liberated Words Festival 2014

Innisfree, Don Carey, (2013, Ireland) Based upon the famous poem ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’ by William Butler Yeats. A man in a chaotic and depressing urban environment seeks to escape his surroundings. Director / scriptwriter / editor: Don Carey cast: Will O Connell produced by the students of the animation department at the Irish School of Animation, Ballyfermot College of Further Education, 2013

Newlyn International Film Festival 2018


Ozone, stone, cutting-edge film culture and celebration – it’s Newlyn Film Festival!

Lucy and I have just completed judging for the poetry film section of the inaugural Newlyn Film Festival.
Congratulations to everyone who entered, the standard was high and thank you to Diana Taylor and Martin Reiser for this very special opportunity.

With a winner who has long deserved recognition, and all selected films reflecting what is happening in the world today, this is a cross-section of finely perceived and constructed content and form from many corners of the globe. The organisers, some of whom call Newlyn home, (and you feel that it is home in the true spiritual meaning) have not only worked hard to put together a solid programme, but also a party – celebratory music and dancing – something missing from most festivals, so thank you! It’s sure to be memorable, and become an important (and literal) port-of-call for film lovers. So, get yourself to Cornwall in April – what a beautiful thought as the clouds start to race again in the sky.


Download the Newlyn International Film Festival 2018 Programme



Light Up Poole Digital Light Art Festival


digital light art festival
th– 17th February 2018

Judges’ comments and the final ten selected

Congratulations to everyone who entered – there were 77 films submitted with Lucy and I selecting ten from twenty shortlisted. We chose completely independently of each other and both had the same top three films. We’d like to thank Matt West from artfulscribe and Light Up Poole for the opportunity to take part, and the chance to see all the hard work achieved by so many talented people.

We made our decisions based firstly on: relevance to theme, followed by inventiveness or poetic lyrical evocation; and quality and treatment / editing of poem, image, voice and sound in relation to theme. It was difficult to separate the final ten but we also made our decision based on having a cross-section of films where two weren’t too similar in genre and approach.


Celia Parra, Kneading Language

 Beautiful and evocative both in terms of the visuals and the poem.

Sarah: The quiet directness and closeness of the camera allows us to feel an emotional bonding within the fragility of family life, through the simple act of baking. We are in the room, welcomed by the respectful, loving, confidentiality of the voice into the poet’s private world, and also one with all families since the beginning of time.

The poetry is there to record this moment, clear and unsentimental – ‘we are knitting and unknitting a language that protects us from the cold’ – means both winter but also the cold of not belonging to each other; in other words, we immediately feel the deep value to the poet of traditional family rituals such as this.

It is accomplished as a film in that it has been edited with exactly the right amount of pace for the observer: from fire to face to dough; and it feels totally complete in itself, which is rare. Finally, the sadness of the dedication at the end also serves to underpin the importance of validating through poetry film the people and moments that really signify in life.

Second Place

Francesca Gironi, October Fourth

: I liked the inclusion of dance and music here.

Sarah: The problem of self-identity. Numerous ‘selves’ all dressed the same in a covered corridor, dancing, walking, leaning, layer over each other. As the protagonist multiplies so we are privy to the poet’s disenchantment with herself, in an ironic conversational prose confession: ‘and I wish I hadn’t met me at night while sleeping’…

What is achieved is not a sense of fantasy or dream. The flickering effect of old film, and the repetitive dulled ‘stuck needle’ in the very subtle soundscape with occasional strains of music in the background, suggests that we are witnessing a loop in the poet’s mind. Even though this is ironic, it is very effective on several levels; the camera (and the viewer) are the mind’s eye of the self, watching layered versions of the self, and the flickering and ‘stuck needle’ create a sense of past and present at the same time, a form of eternal nightmare emphasized by the corridor.

However, in contrast, for the viewer there is also a joy in watching all the different selves appear, going about different movements, in a sort of weightless, butterfly effect. The whole is like a highly-choreographed performance that has been generated by the poet’s ironic sense of self-image, but yet eternally trapped in itself. Ultimately, the enigmatic quality of this film created through restrained, tenuous visual effects and sounds, delivers what feels like ‘momentary thoughts’ made visible. A highly-refined articulation of ‘a voice inside our heads’ that also refuses to be too serious. Quite a difficult achievement to make work in a poetry film.


Third Place

A Beanquest Production, Human

 I liked the ‘hand-made’ quality of this one.

Sarah: This genuine, direct and from the heart film shows how society ‘puts gender in a box’. Almost the first shot tells you everything you need to know – a girl faces a mirror in a dress (female we conventionally read) and sees her reflection in braces and a bow tie (male we conventionally read). Through direct statements to camera, holding up flash cards ‘I am straight’, ‘I am bi-sexual’ the message is – you define yourself, no one else should do this for you. Through a positive narrative it affirms individuality, love and that aren’t we all just ultimately human. The filming echoed the content; sometimes speeded up, sometimes straight to camera, the camera language was as informal as the narrator’s voice, and felt wholly ‘caught in the moment’ – real life with real feelings.

Joint Fourth

Ace Media, The Noble Amateur

 Post-Brexit, moody and clearly delivered. I liked the derelict urban landscapes.

Sarah: This is a wholly authentic voice from what feels like a lost generation. An overarching sense of dystopia, of a society bled dry by corporate and political greed – this poem comes from that place. The visuals speak with the poem and for it; a document – saying – just look around you.


Jane Glennie, Julia Bird Blue Flash Flash

Blue Flash Flash – Jane Glennie – 2017 from Jane Glennie on Vimeo.

 Innovative and funny. A quick-fire narrative about someone who is new to bathing a toddler and the resulting dialogue. Here we don’t need to see a toddler but just experience the sensation of attempting to hold a wet, slippery one, with speeded up bubbles, flashes of octopus’ tentacles, splashing sounds and a back and forth about saying the word ‘Octopus’ with accompanying flashing word.

The selection of a male narrator, with a slightly arch, almost formal yet highly expressive voice was a superb choice and gives this very funny slice-of-life poem a real bite. The way that the visuals are rendered with a frenetic, chaotic quality – echoing the tension of the situation – and the metaphor of an octopus with many slippery limbs, doubles this feeling. For anyone who has been in this position (or not) a joy to watch and rewind over and over.



In No Particular Order


Meriel Lland: Kin

 This sublime film took my breath away as a poetic documentation of a natural phenomena that is truly life-affirming. I felt that the naturalism of the sound was refreshing, and the majesty of a murmur of starlings, shape-shifting in the sky took over (was allowed to) and created a very visual poetry film. The voice finds a way to become part of the event, rather than be in addition to it.


K A Sweeney, A Scientists advice on healing

 Carefully crafted poem. Classy visuals.

Sarah: Through animated, drawn hands against what appears to be magnified cells or bacteria, we focus on how the body has its own language that is prone to failure and its own truth. ‘This isn’t Hollywood, it’s you’ bodies forth poetic truisms in short statements that work well with the visual text. The audio-visual editing is highly developed: the poem works well with the niggling soundscape: knocking sounds that give a visceral sense of pain; driving us through this, like illness to get to the end, to get well.


Dan Douglas, Paul Summers, Bun Stop

 Gritty and beautiful. Great poem and effective urban landscapes.

Sarah: What I particularly like is the way that the filmmaker’s eye captures black and white, almost two-dimensional, fixed-frame shots of urban situations, which offer balanced graphic elements with minimal movement. Each fixed frame leads on to the next in a controlled manner, and we are given time to absorb the contents. The visuals marry with a voice that sounds as if it has seen it all, and the words are powerful and taut: ‘the fragile dialectic of gravity and mass’ as we see a fast-food container close-up, balanced on some cigarette butts. Halfway through a bit more life happens – a man walking away with a dog following: it feels powerfully magnified, breaking the restraint of the previous frames. There is a sense of a world that is running away from us, but through the lens becomes captured, and in doing so interjects the human eye.


Sally Fryer, Jupiter

 Good animation and good poem

Sarah: The veracity of the voice in this film is undeniable. The seemingly mundane everydayness of the underlying concept of the theme creates a pathos that is echoed by the tone of the voice and set against sensitive and well-drawn animation. The lack of a background soundscape emphasizes how life feels on hold. The postman missing the house, the waiting for the phone to ring whilst mice eat the phonebook … and the same mould in the same damp corner … from one perspective life hangs about us and gathers dust as we helplessly watch.


Diana Taylor, Only Bound by my imagination

 Elegiac and mournful.

Sarah: This film has an evocative use of coloration, shapes and textures, with a brevity of text as a series of philosophical observations. The classical violin piece in a minor key set against urban street scenes, at times with coloration, creates a sense of passing through, but occasionally a glimmer that something will happen if you recognize it: ‘the infinite untouched Eden’. The pace of the editing, and the cuts between scenes or shots in this film are a real joy, and make total sense – the final shot of two people walking in the distance really does complete the film.


Marcia Pelletiere, Peg Alford Pursell
The Map She is Trying to Follow

 The narrative speaks about the paintings that ‘she’, the narrator, is making which populate the film – everything becomes patterned by the wild shapes in the painting as an abstract layering of editing. The complexity of the patterning adds weight to the narrator’s difficulty of trying to make her way through life.



New People On Board – WELCOME!

We are really pleased to welcome two new members of the Liberated Words team:

Caleb Parkin
Caleb is becoming well-known in the poetry world; in the 2016 National Poetry Competition he won second prize. Helmi Stil was commissioned to make a film of the poem by Alastair Cook for the Eyes Like Rays filmpoem event in conjunction with The Poetry Society (see below). He is an intuitive and understanding workshop facilitator and a really nice guy!

From his resume: Caleb Parkin is a poet, performer, artist, facilitator, educator & filmmaker, based in Bristol. His career has encompassed media production, education, the arts, and their therapeutic/wellbeing applications– these days, he works with schools, museums, science centres, universities, and more.

His work has appeared in The Rialto, Poetry Review, Atticus Review, Folia, Eyedrum Periodically and other publications in print and online. He won first prize in the Winchester Poetry Prize 2017, and in 2016 was second prize-winner in the National Poetry Competition, shortlisted in The Rialto Open Pamphlet Competition, and commended in the Ware Open Poetry Competition.

He’s in the dissertation year of an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes with Metanoia Institute, holds professional membership of the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE), and is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA). 

You can read more about his online and print publications here:


Ursula Billington

 was a Project Manager at west country-based organisation Superact, running arts & wellbeing projects in the community and overseas. She is also a stunning violinist with her own Bristol-based band Ushti Baba creating compulsive ‘Gypsy-Jungle Turbo-Folkstep’ – traditional folk melodies with unstoppable dance rhythms. As both a musician and project manager, it’s no surprise she has a great sense of bringing things together. She will mainly work on event organisation, and open up our poetry and moving image world to a wider audience.




Big hugs to both of you!



Whilst missing Helen Moore very much, (though we fully understand she has to have a life of her own up in Scotland!), alongside poetry filmmakers Howard Vause and Helen Dewbery, we will be welcoming a group of talented, friendly and experienced new poets and storytellers to our forthcoming projects. For the moment, I am just giving links to websites, with more anon:

Shaun Clarke

Louisa Adjoa Parker

Camilla Nelson

Stu Packer

and new poetry filmmaker
Kevin Redpath

My Eyes Like Rays

My Eyes Like Rays

National Poetry Competition Filmpoem screening & poetry reading



Notes from the screening and poetry reading: for all the films please go to: www.vimeo.com/filmpoem 

Poet Sam Harvey, Sarah Tremlett and Julia Bird from The Poetry Society

Really pleased to see a sell-out poetry reading and poetry film screening curated by Alastair Cook of Filmpoem at The Poetry Society, London on October 13th, where films were made to the winning poems from the National Poetry Competition of 2016. All the films were really noteworthy. Myself, poet Sam Harvey, filmmaker James Norton, poet Laura Scott, and Helmi Stil were there to present our work. Just to say, my jottings from the event are no reflection on those not mentioned.

Laura Scott’s poem The Grey Mirror (3:12, 2017) is centered on the memory of a house by the sea in Ireland. The processes behind James Norton’s evocative, lyrical filming became clearer when he told us that: There was a shift in the poem, which had to be a character – it took ages to find an image for – I tried so many things’.

and if I went back to that house in Ireland where she took us in

out of the rain, I’d find it. If I stood in front of the mirror I’d see

how grey and specked with black its glass was and then I’d see

lines spreading around my eyes like rays in a child’s drawing

of the sun …

Laura gave a memorable reading that also made me see The Wizard of Oz in a new light.

Fran Lock’s Epistle from inside the Sharknado (5:12, 2017) is a dark testament to the destruction we are causing to the planet. Filmmaker Idil Sukan managed to create a paradoxical effect: using animated plastic dinosaurs (coming back to get us as the poem foretells), he reminds us of both the absence of the real thing and the pathos of the imitation; both a bittersweet visual sense of humour but also a real sense of the fragility of our world, and what we will end up with if we don’t protect it: a world of plastic memories.

We will come, seismic and genderless, thick sleeves

of meat, working the humid air like a grudge. You’d

better run …

In Never Say Never Say Never (6:10, 2017) directed, shot, conceived and edited by Adele Myers with poem by Patrick Errington and narrated by Evan DiLario, a couple struggle to let go. Myers, who trained as a dancer, as well as a filmmaker, sent me her rationale for making the film:

‘The poem itself had some strong imagery but I found it to be quite abstract also. I felt that the words flowed over each other well, but I initially struggled to latch on to a particular narrative, that I could explore in a visual way. My previous film for The Poetry Society, Birdfall based on the poem by Danica Ognjenovic, used a ballet dancer as a bird-like figure, so I decided to revisit dance again for this piece, to play with the symbolism of relationships.
I gleaned a sense that the poem could be about the final moment of a relationship, where the two parties were set to end; they know they need to end it, but are also resistant to actually doing so. I wanted to explore imagery involving two people trying hold on to their very last moment together, so that it did not have to end; “the last page unread”.

I also wanted the piece to have a dream-like or not so firmly fixed, timeless quality as if the couple were still sleeping, in limbo perhaps before the final split, “don’t wake, not just yet”. The film evokes memories or echoes of moments they’d shared together both tender and not so. With the dancers – Layla Al Khouri and Sandoop Dinesh – coming from different cultures it adds another dimension to ideas of relational struggle, which was hinted at, but subtly. Notions of misunderstanding are explored, mixed with tenderness that relationships can encounter anywhere. The poem circles around a sort of push and pull, back and forth for me and I really wanted capture that, to have a tension in the film, where you were not quite sure if they were in or out, even at the end as the poem’s final words relay: “when you leave, come back”’.

The Desktop Metaphor (2:48, 2017) by poet Caleb Parkin is an existential dance of the prosaic and mythical – ‘like The Great Stapler which attaches the night to us’ – with photocopier light opera by Helmie Stil (organizer of Filmpoem Festival 2017) and music by Lennert Busch.

The steady metrical repetition of the scanning motion of the photocopier (with both light and sound) creates its own hypnotic prosody, paralleling the anaphoric repetitions and enjambment of Parkin’s verbal images:

we were exoplanets                                                                        with atmospheres of ink

    ink                                                                                                   full of bright mating cries

Parkin’s delivery is both matter-of-fact and playful. It is as if qualifying the ordinary with mythical statements, and reiterating them, is enough; belief is only in the mind. Stil’s photocopied face (which once would have been termed abject), adds to the humour of man’s position in the desktop universe, as well as enriching the constantly changing material spectacle).

In Parkin’s page poem, there is a zig-zagging rift of metaphoric blank space running down the middle of the page. Maybe we could think of this as a contemporary version of a medial caesura as in Anglo Saxon and Middle English verse, such as ‘Piers Plowman’ by William Langland (c.1330–1386). Parkin’s pause, or blank audio-visual ‘space’ takes on a new form through the iterations of Stil’s photocopier.

As the repetitive rhythm of the poem and photocopier work in concert, there is also a pleasing mirroring between word and image. As a director, mindful of the verse/image relationship, Stil has paired two beams of light that converge, like a beak shape, with Caleb’s narration of the words ‘the gull’:

mating cries from Gods of our Days like the Gull

the Gull whose beak marks the poles

the poles whose screams are tectonic


Helmie kindly sent me her notes that she also sent to Caleb during the filming process. It is really interesting to see her interpretation of the poem and also the nature of the scanning process itself:

The main idea is to focus visual on the scanner, I’ve filmed different angles of the lights of the scanner and I’ve scanned some items that relate to your poem. And because your poem is readable in different ways I was thinking of doing something with a split screen. So, on one side of the screen you see the light of the scanner, scanning, and on the other screen you see what’s been scanned.

I’ve scanned many things that you can’t name and some you can. What I felt in your poem is the emptiness of life, the feeling we should always put names on things instead of just feeling it, that we make things very important while there are many more important things in life. So, the scanner is symbolizing our life, scanning through it. The scans are representing the things we put/are “important” in our lives, like the Great Stapler.

I was very surprised and pleased to see what you can do with the scanner visually. An isolation of life, scanning through it.’

The Curfew (4:26, 2017) with poem by winning poet Stephen Sexton recollects his grandfather – his work as a miner and a disaster – and is consummately filmed by the well-established team of Alastair Cook, filmmaker James Norton and sound by Luca Nasciuti.

Nasciuti’s soundscape turns the simple act of opening an old suitcase and coming across objects wrapped in paper into almost an apocalyptic experience. The whole action takes place at Alastair Cook’s desk as he shares with us the emotional experience of reacquainting himself with a loved one, through the totemic qualities of personal possessions. Shot with an uncompromising lens, very different to the lyricism of Norton’s work with Laura Scott, boxing gloves or an old camera reawaken memories. These seem to build until ultimately Cook buries his face in an old blanket. The emotional delicacy of the process contrasts with the soundscape that creaks and clanks, rising and falling in volume, like a techno ship being tossed on the waves in a thunderstorm (echoing the later motif of the albatross). Cook’s voice brings a real verisimilitude to the poem: seamlessly blending with the lines in couplets, like a stream of consciousness, or a mental liturgy.

The memorial fountain says nothing

of the weeks before the rescue failed

but mentions God which, as my grandfather

used to say, is just the name of the plateau

you view the consequences of your living from.

Or something like that. He said a lot of things.

He grew wise and weary as an albatross

and left for that great kingdom of nevertheless.

I was paired with American poet Sam Harvey for Claire Climbs Everest (5:08, 2017). For me it was a really enjoyable experience to work blind, and finally meet Sam, who has a unique delivery that slowly draws you into everyday situations, which are then quietly isolated through a perceptive lens– as we found out in his poetry reading (including running into a deer, left on the bonnet of the car!). I also enjoyed our discussion with the lovely Julia Bird afterwards.
For my own part I can only recount my own intention for the poem:


The highs and lows of being in love. A teenage girl is left by her cello-playing boyfriend and her world temporarily falls apart.

Sam’s verbal imagery and the mountain metaphor provided a strong basis to work from. In some cases, I fell in step with a duvet / mountain convergence, and in other places I diverged creating parallel visual images from his verbal images. With quite complicated visuals I called on talented multimedia filmmaker and editor Howard Vause to help edit my footage and concepts into evocative images – without him the film would not have worked at all.

Overall the poem conveyed to me a more traditional, three-act structure as a poetry film, rather than a dream-like or conceptual narrative. As the ex-boyfriend in the poem was a cellist (so well-played by Sam Warner) I selected different types of cello music to reflect the emotional structure. I did not want to begin with Claire as already abandoned by her boyfriend, but catch her still ‘in’ love – in a Chagall-esque scenario that I had wanted to use for some time, and was realised so effectively by Howard.

This scene is made for me by several different aspects that come together: the music works in concert; the way I shot her, including the dress and the wind machine, and asking her to pretend she was being lifted in the air; my suggestion to have a kiss become a bird that carries Claire, and Howard’s suggestion to drop Claire on the mountain /duvet and layer Claire’s small figure over the concerned expression of her larger face. All the tweakings of this scene necessitated incorporating the exit of the cellist with Claire arriving in the right place after her flight. The result is a tribute to Howard’s skillful and imaginative image manipulation.

In terms of metaphoric visual imagery, I also managed to use crosses as both symbolising love and error – another theme I had wanted to transfer from a print series to incorporate in poetry films. Love and error keep slipping and sliding and the cross bears a different meaning as kiss or error depending on your point of view. These interplay with Sam’s mountain motif, or sometimes run parallel: the opening pan across the mountainous duvet is peppered with delicate love-filled kisses. Yet later they form a chain-link curtain that signifies the end of their relationship.

However, some verbal and visual images fuse as with the messy bedroom, seen in triplicate.

I go home some weekends to find

Claire’s bedroom covered in little mountains

of socks and t-shirts, the range across which she has trekked,

But when Claire leaves the room, in Sam’s poem she goes into her mother’s room, but in the filmic image she leaves the room wearing a pink hat and fake fur coat (as an enveloping stand-in for the mother) to go out. In discussing my use of colour, I would also argue that strong pink represents a strong feminine position, whereas the black and white scenarios signify Claire’s world bled dry of life (and even hope). Another reason for a pink hat is that it serves nicely as a little beacon to follow for a filmmaker in a crowded night-time tube station!

The parallel images continue but in some cases converge again through shared dynamics. As Claire visually ascends an escalator in the tube station, Harvey narrates:

… the Sherpa, cheeks flush rose with the cold,

that lead her through the eyelet of clouds

to the summit …

Towards the end, in speaking of Claire’s dad’s shirt which she finds, Sam describes her holding the shirt and again I parallel that verbal image:

She emerges with it clenched in her fist like a trophy,

like a fistful of snow from the white crown of Everest.

Here I wanted to return to the idea of the cross as kiss or love again (the father’s shirt standing for this love to me) and I wanted the kisses to appear from her hand, as if reigniting her sense of faith in people and wonder in life. So, Howard created the effect of kisses seeming to float upwards.

Another secret from the filming process is that Claire is played by two people – both my daughters – Georgie for the main role, but Hatti for the location shots, as she happened to be living in London at the time and Georgie wasn’t available!

I set out wanting animated special effects to support a sense of wonder and imagination at being in love (particularly for the first time), something very old-fashioned today but a feeling I think that hasn’t been entirely destroyed by the cynicism and pragmatism of our society.

I am very grateful to Alastair for this opportunity; it was an exciting way to stretch my filmmaking capabilities. I am also indebted to Sam for such a subtle and finely crafted poem on such a raw subject, and I feel the pace of his dry, American voice really counterpoints but underpins the drama on screen. I have learnt a lot about the craft of poetry as much as filmmaking.

My Eyes Like Rays Event


National Poetry Competition Filmpoem screening & poetry reading

Friday 13 October 2017, 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton St, London WC2H 9BX
Doors 7pm, event start 7.30pm.

Adaptation, interpretation or illustration – how to convert a poetic image to a filmic one? Filmmakers translating the latest National Poetry Competition-winning poems into visual form answer the question with a swirling charcoal animation, a tableau of Lego men and a choreography of dancers and fallen leaves.

Filmpoem makers James William NortonHelmie Stil and Sarah Tremlett will screen all ten NPC films at the Poetry Café this October. National Poetry Competition commended poets Sam Harvey and Laura Scott will bring the poetry – join them all for a lively reflection on the filmpoem-making process.

How to find the Poetry Cafe: www.poetrysociety.org.uk  The nearest tube is Covent Garden

For further information visit: www.facebook.com/events/1565838386805628

Tickets: www.poetrysociety.org.uk/my-eyes-like-rays

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