Distant Realities

May 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

In planning a second reading of Yoke and Arrows – at the Midsummer Poetry Festival in Sheffield next month – I’ve been exploring the idea of using film in some way.  As was the case in working with guitarist Rikki Thomas-Martinez in February, this is a new venture for me, and one which immediately presents a range of challenges: technical, presentational and conceptual.  With the support of Brian Lewis I’m hopeful that many of the technical issues will be overcome.

Presentation and concept are interlinked.  Considerations such as running time, playing clips without sound, transition between clips and so on are related to the basic concept of juxtaposition: how two different forms of expression, projected together to an audience, create (or possibly disturb) coherences between the poetry and film.

The concept of juxtaposition is a familiar element in 20th century Western culture.  Breton’s first Surrealist Manifesto (1924) describes Surrealism as the juxtaposition of ‘two distant realities’.  The Beats developed this concept in poetry film.

What I am particularly interested in is the idea of control.  As far as I can gather (as I said, this is a new area for me), poetry film seeks to open up new possibilities for interpretation of both media – while at the same time asserting a degree of control in preparing a presentation.  In giving a live reading against film, however, there is necessarily a loss of control of how the words and images relate.  The film clips are preselected and organised, of course: in my case, the balance between resonance and ambiguity will hopefully effect a response to both forms which makes something out of each – and of the combination of both.

What I can’t anticipate – and won’t even be able to understand, as the audience (seeing as well as listening) will – is which images will go with which words.  Freud, no doubt, will be looking on.


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