Alice Lyons: Ten Films to Look at When You Want to Think About Poetry and Film

I’m always looking for poetry films that mobilise what Hollis Frampton called ‘the counter-machine to the machine of language’, i.e., the visual. Frampton has been my guide to understanding how poetic language might be translated to cinema. I’ve written a forthcoming book on the subject called Perpetual Speech: Hollis Frampton’s Gloria! as Lyric Poem. So Gloria! has got to be in my list. It’s at the end.

Subterranean Homesick Blues (song by Bob Dylan)
D.A. Pennebaker, from the documentary Dont Look Back, 1967


The Grass is Greener (poem by Ivor Cutler)
Orla Mc Hardy, 2001


Anna Blume (poem by Kurt Schwitters)
Vessela Dantcheva (main animator Ebele Okoye), 2010


Höpöhöpö Böks
Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl, 2010


The Grammar Tables: The Great and The Dead (poem by Pat Boran)
Helen Horgan, 2013


American Haikus (poetry by Jack Kerouac)
Orla Mc Hardy, 2006


Zorns Lemma
Hollis Frampton, 1970


Jonas Mekas, 1969

(see longer selection on UbuWeb)


Зеркало/The Mirror (poems by Arseny Tarkovsky)
Andrei Tarkovsky, 1975


Hollis Frampton, 1979

Alice Lyons’s poems have appeared in publications such as Tygodnik Powszechny (Kraków) and Poetry (Chicago) and as poetry films in cinema and gallery screenings worldwide. Lyons often collaborates with artists and filmmakers on interdisciplinary and public art projects that explore poetry and its publication in new contexts and media. She has co-directed poetry films with animator/fine artist Orla Mc Hardy, including The Polish Language (2009), which has received numerous film festival awards and citations and is included in The Best of Zebra Poetry Film Festival. Developers (2013), a film & poetry project exploring the politics of speech and economics in rural Ireland, premiered at Oslopoesi International Poetry Festival. Lyons holds a Ph.D. from the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, Queen’s University, Belfast where her doctoral research was on American experimental filmmaker Hollis Frampton. She lives in Sligo and works as an independent lecturer and curator. Visit her website:

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