This month we welcome guest poet Rachael Boast. Rachael’s first collection Sidereal won the Forward First Collection Prize and her second, Pilgrim’s Flower was one of four shortlisted (from 539 international submissions) for the Griffin Poetry Prize. Often described as a modern metaphysical poet, she lives in Bristol and owns a tiny boat. Order Pilgrim’s Flower here.
Moving images is a phrase that evokes several interpretations. As noun, we immediately think about the genre of film, but could also interpret this phrase as any images that are perceived to be moving, as opposed to fixed in one place. As a verb, it could be understood as the imaginative act of moving an image from one place to another – in a sense, this is what the imagination does when at work on poetry. An image in a poem can ‘move’ from having one association to having another and may also move from meaning to meaning, depending on the active effects of other images in a poem.
Write an ekphrastic poem about a film, or clip from a film, that has literature or a literary figure as its subject or as its creator. Ekphrasis, as we know, simply means ‘art about art’ (more commonly translated as ‘description’). For our purposes it refers to an attempt to expand the meaning or significance of a film through the heightened use of language particular to poetry, and in so doing bring that moving image alive with a new intelligence. Examples are the films of Andrei Tarkovsky (especially ‘Mirror’ which incorporates poems composed and read by his Father, Arseny Tarkovsky), or ‘Pandemonium’ (on Coleridge and Wordsworth).
Here’s another example: A Room and a Half, released in 2010 and directed by Andrey Khrzhanovskiy, is a biopic on the Russian poet Joesph Brodsky, who wrote poems in which images seem to float free of any fixed meaning (how on earth did the knickers get into this poem?) This clip is wonderfully textured: the moving image (film) of moving images (floating piano, levitating french horn, violins and the shadows of violins).
This is also a good excuse to watch the films of Jean Cocteau who saw film, as well as drawing and painting for that matter, as a form of (moving) poetry (‘Heurtebise’ is both the subject of a poem and a film character). My second collection, Pilgrim’s Flower, began and ended with ekphrastic poems based on Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête and Le Sang d’un Poète, respectively.
Written your film poem? Next: what would your poem look like as a film?!
[You don't have to watch all the films right through, of course. But Rachael gives us the excuse to consider any film, moving image or TV programme - and the associations that they bring. From Belle de Jour to Captain Pugwash - get the popcorn out and get cracking!]