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The Word!/Staple Film-Poems

On September 7th, Staple and Leicester’s leading spoken word night will collaborate in presenting the work of four poets (five, if we include one of the night’s regular comperes, Lydia Towsey, which we certainly should) devised to be performed alongside films created by Word’s resident film-maker, Keith Allott, the man behind the varied backdrops that colour and add texture to much of the work performed on the open mic and main slots at the Y Theatre

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Taking submissions, often in the forms of poetry screenplays (Pam Thompson’s ‘Backstory’) or treatments (like Ghost Poet’s description of a dream-like imaginary film, relating an encounter between a man and a boy’s ghost in a confined room), it will be fascinating to see where the process of these poets working with Keith Allott to build an expanded version, incorporating film, will lead.

Just as Thompson and Ghost Poet take divergent routes into the idea of a poem that might become a film, so the other two writers involved (Maria Taylor and Jayne Stanton) do likewise, Taylor offering ’The Carnival of Souls’, a poem steeped in the history and some hazily recollected memories of 1950s and 60s American horror films and b-movies, where our unnamed but undoubtedly glamorous heroine is chased, escapes, finds herself  in a room with curtains that “swirl, like/unworn bridal veils” as “the water calls” and (by the by) finds herself a cult concern among her fans.  

Taylor’s spooked atmosphere operates through details and textures, while Jayne Stanton’s ‘The Cab Door Closes’ takes an opposite path, sketching in a single fleeting moment that might imply a larger story – a woman, actress or model, perhaps, who “takes her seat/in time to watch a private showing/in the rear view mirror” where a small ‘cameo’ is noted, as a man stands (whether he is threatening or desirable is not clear) and the woman removes her gaze, parting company with the scene she has observed, going on ”for her next casting”. Perhaps Stanton’s film will explain, or simply deepen the mystery.

Each piece of writing will be extended and filled out by the addition of images and sound, and the finished pieces will be performed at Leicester’s Phoenix Square on September 7th, at a special one-off event, from around 8pm (though arrive earlier if you’d like to perform on the open mic – slots book up quickly here!). We hope to add footage to the website in due course: since the technology now exists to look at fresh ways of approaching publication, in time we hope to add more work designed for audio-visual as well as plain print presentation.

In the meantime, the extracts in Staple 73: The Film Issue might offer a small taste of what is to come, and we hope some of our readers will come along to Phoenix on the 7th September to share in the unveiling of these unclassifiable works by five poets, all regulars at the Word! nights, and all likely to surprise and entertain, just like cinema itself.

Prior to the evening performances, Pam Thompson will also be leading a film-themed workshop in one of the Phoenix resource rooms: contact Word! for further details and bookings.

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