I was pleased to see this inclusion among the workshops and panels scheduled to coincide with the 2019 Sabateur Awards ceremony, to be held on May 18 at Impact Hub, Birmingham, UK:
2:30-3:30pm Poetry Film: The Power of Collaboration, a panel run by Lucy English, Helen Dewberry, and Sarah Tremlett.
This panel investigates the rapidly growing genre of poetry film, and how it is expanding through social media sharing and poetry film making workshops. Spoken word poet Lucy English, and film makers Helen Dewbery and Sarah Tremett, discuss the collaborative process in the creation of The Book of Hours and share some of the challenges and benefits of cross genre art forms.
The Book of Hours was created by spoken word poet, Lucy English and 27 collaborators from Europe, America and Australia. The Book of Hours is a re-imagining of a medieval book of hours and contains 48 poetry films. The project has been twice longlisted for the Sabotage Awards and was shortlisted for the New Media Writing Prize. Individual films have been screened at a variety of international short film festivals.
Founded in 2011 by Sabotage Reviews, the annual Saboteur Awards include some genuinely interesting categories, with a public nomination process that may or may not make it more egalitarian—which seems on the face of it an odd concern for an essentially competitive undertaking, but literary prize culture always invites a certain amount of anxiety and discomfort, so such gestures toward populism can help dispel that.
Since the vast majority of Moving Poems’ readership is from outside the U.K., it might help to put this in anthropological context. From what I can determine, the U.K. literary scene appears to be largely centered on a bewildering array of prizes and honours, which poets must compete for in order to make themselves more attractive to potential publishers and to assert dominance over fellow poets. This is not surprising given the intensely hierarchical and competitive nature of British tribal culture, especially among the Oxbridge moiety, many of whose members come from the traditional warrior elite. The size and popularity of the literary prize system may also partly be explained by the awkward nature of British courtship practices and intimate relationships more generally, which historically has led individuals to attempt to demonstrate romantic fitness and/or filial piety through grotesque and extreme efforts, helping to launch a colonial empire and the industrial revolution. So, for example, the newly appointed poet laureate, Simon Armitage, cited his indebtedness to his parents in his first statement to the press — and had his qualifications for the job ritually questioned by members of the Oxbridge moiety, disturbed perhaps by his northern and working-class background (though too constrained by linguistic taboos to say so directly).
All that said, I still don’t understand why Lucy English’s Book of Hours project has failed to win in the collaboration category for the Saboteur Awards—not once, but twice. This more than anything indicts the prize system for me, though it’s cool that they have this festival to help broaden the conversation.