Two recent interviews with the founder and curator of the UK-based PoetryFilm project together serve as a good introduction to Zata Kitowski’s basic philosophy and priorities. In an interview with Frances Spurrier for Write Out Loud, “‘Separating and combining the senses’: the art of the poetry film,” she shows herself to have very broad tastes, while expressing a preference for what has become almost an orthodoxy in poetry-film, filmpoem and videopoetry circles:
How would you define the relation of the poem to the film and vice versa?
The question implies that there is a separation between the poem and the film. Some poetry films are created from the outset as a cohesive poetry film so in this way there is no separation. If the artwork did begin with a poem at the start of the creative process, or with a film, then there are various integration approaches. Duplicating the visual, verbal and aural content is a popular obvious interpretation; however, in my opinion, contrasting different elements is more powerful, playing with the presence and or absence of words, images and sounds. The poetry film art form is a fertile and creative area to explore, and the project celebrates many different approaches, both separating the senses and combining the senses.
A feature article by Heather Kincaid in A Younger Theatre takes the long view, “Celebrating Creativity – Twelve Years of PoetryFilm.” I was especially interested in what Kitowski had to say about the audience for PoetryFilm events:
“We have a really diverse audience,” said Kitowksi. “People come from poetic and literary spheres, as well as from film and artistic circles. I think this diversity is partly influenced by where we hold events – so we might exhibit work at a cinema or film festival, in an art gallery, or at a literary festival. The response from audiences has been very positive both in the UK and abroad.”
Judging by the fact that her latest event, PoetryFilm Solstice at the ICA in London, sold out a day in advance, I’d say the response is very positive indeed. Even though my own approach at Moving Poems is to pull in fans of film and poetry with the lure of free web videos, I recognize that seeing films in a theater or art gallery is a wholly different—and generally much more immersive—experience, and having a knowledgeable guide to interpret each film really adds value as well. And as a poet, I love the idea of getting people to pay real money to go hear and see poetry. So here’s wishing PoetryFilm many more years of success.