4th International Conference

Digital Culture & AudioVisual Challenges

Interdisciplinary Creativity in Arts and Technology

Hybrid - Corfu/Online, May 13-14, 2022

Poetry Film: an enquiry into defining a poetic genre
Date and Time: 13/05/2022 (10:20-11:50)
Sarah Tremlett

This presentation will centre on author Sarah Tremlett’s publication The Poetics of Poetry Film (June 2021 Intellect Books and The University of Chicago Press) which is an encyclopedic reference work described as an ‘industry Bible’ and the first of its kind on the subject.

Tremlett’s area of research is the philosophy of poetry film in audiovisual practice. Poetry films are short films which include poetry, the moving image and a soundscape. As an artist, poet, and researcher within visual poetry, media poetry and poetry film since 2005, and curating festivals since 2012, the author identified that there were no books on the specific category of poetry film and its formal characteristics. The process of gathering, collating and thinking through a new approach to language as a research publication that would define the genre took over five years, and the book is the result of this theoretical inquiry.

The actual layout of the book and its delivery therefore was really key. For example, it was important that, though the theoretical analyses were by Tremlett, over forty contributors gave voice to their own practices. I also included two very interesting chapters on Spanish and Portuguese videopoets by Charles Olsen and on the history of videopoetry in Argentina by Marisol Bellusci. It also involved the merging of a number of historical strands such as poetry, spoken word, visual poetry, film, animation, experimental film, media poetry, painting, etc. The defining of a poetry film, as well as a film poem, or videopoem was also critical to the discussion and the necessity to establish the difference of these from other types of short film or media poetry.

To disseminate the vast amount of information, the book was divided into three main parts:

Form and Structure
Artists’ Voices – pioneers, making (including workshops) Spanish and Latin American practitioners
Selected Narrative Forms – collections, video haiku, dance, the ecopoetry film

As an example, Part One comprised eight chapters:
1 Terminology Across Time
2 Realization and Structure
3 Voice and Narrative
4 Time and Mind
5 Constructing Dynamic Spatio-Temporality
6 Tonality, Light and Colour
7 Sound Design
8 Poet on Screen: Persona and Subjectivity

And, in Poet on Screen: Persona and Subjectivity the topic covered

• The onscreen poet as integral to the poetry film
• To camera or not – part of the ‘scenario’ or commenting on
• Political identity
• The Carnivalesque and the indefinite ‘I’ – performing a non-dual identity e.g. Mariola Brillowska and XAI_LA or Hatti Rees.
• The role of the ‘selfie’ and my award-winning film ‘Selfie with Marilyn’
• Women and the maternal – trauma and the mythic maternal Beata Pozniak
• The diary film
• Ways of filmically conveying an unseen hostile environment for the protagonist

This presentation will both present extracts from the book, discuss the pros and cons of such a large task, and also focus on three different poetry films to analyse and open up conversation about the ways in which aesthetics, ethics, voice and subjectivity converge in the genre, and how the poetry film itself unites the historical categories of the spoken, visual and page poem with the lyric and song.

Sarah Tremlett

Sarah Tremlett is a prize-winning poetry film-maker, poet and theorist of the philosophy of poetry film and audiovisual practice www.sarahtremlett.com and a co-director of Liberated Words www.liberatedwords.com. A curator, juror and speaker at festivals, her publication The Poetics of Poetry Film (June 2021, Intellect Books UK, and The University of Chicago Press USA), has been termed ‘‘A ground-breaking, encyclopedic work, … an industry Bible’, https://www.intellectbooks.com/the-poetics-of-poetry-film. Her project TREE is a poetry and film project on family history and place, her geopoem ‘Firewash’, is in Earth Lines: Geopoetry and Geopoetics, (Edinburgh Geological Society).

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