I’ve been remiss in mentioning that Lucy English’s unique Book of Hours, an online calendar of poetry films made in collaboration with video artists and filmmakers from around the world, is at last complete — and worth many hours of exploration. Not only that, but there’s a printed version of the texts now out from Burning Eye Books, a terrific UK publisher specializing in spoken word poets. Many of the most effective poems in the book emerged during the process of collaboration, making this a unique milestone in the history of filmpoem innovation comparable in stature to the poetry films of Tony Harrison.
To whet your appetite further, there’s a new review of the book by poet and novelist Deborah Harvey over at Poetry Film Live.
It’s an ingenious idea – a calendar of poems that re-imagine the illustrated psalter of mediaeval literature for a secular, 21st century readership/audience. Lucy is supported in this endeavour by her extensive knowledge of the both fields, coupled with a poetic voice that is especially well suited to the demands of poetry film.
For all that there are mentions of stained glass, doom paintings, sun dials and psalmicly panting sheep, the subject-matter of the poems is resolutely secular. Churches are places to be visited in a spirit of curiosity rather than devotion, saints are grey and made of lead, and no miracles happen at wells that are simply oozy patches in stony holes. Similarly, the lives encapsulated in the poems are not ones of monastic contemplation. The poems accommodate a sizeable cast of friends, ex-lovers, family members, former inhabitants of holiday cottages, personifications of the seasons, and animals, and include arrivals from and departures for destinations far beyond an anchorite’s cell.
And yet the sacred is here, in the poet’s tender attention to moments snagged in the memory, rendering them dream-like, and magnified by their lifting up as an offering to the reader. This is the poetry of non sequiturs, missed opportunities, small losses that loom large, the lives we don’t lead […]
Read the rest. And if you see an announcement of a screening of the project in your area, don’t miss it!