A Plague on All our Houses

A poetryfilm inspired by Covid-19, A Plague on All Our Houses features a contemporary Romeo and Juliet who have to lockdown in separate cities. Unable to see each other, they exchange messages by email, Whatsapp and phone, observing the world around them and hoping for a better future, together, when the pandemic is over.

Filmmaker: Andrew Curtis, featuring words by Sarah James/Leavesley.

A Plague On All Our Houses, is one of 38 poeetry-films (from 14 countries) shortlisted for the 2020 Ó Bhéal International Poetry-Film Competition. The shortlist was chosen from 288 entries received from 49 countries. The shortlisted films will be streamed online on Sunday, 29 November 2020, over two screenings at Ó Bhéal’s 8th Winter Warmer Poetry festival, via Vimeo Livestream. Access to the entire festival will be free to the public.

Ellipses – poetryfilm commission

The three poetryfilms created for my Disappear Here Coventry ring road collaborative commission with filmmaker Ben Cook can now be enjoyed here. A brief synopsis of the films can be found below. My main role was writing the poems and script for the poetryfilm. But there are some of my photos in the first part of the film, possibly including the odd selfie…

Ellipses is a three-part poetry-film inspired by Coventry ring road. It draws on the city’s past as well as the stories of those now living in the city and using the road.

Part 1) ‘Underbelly Undercurrents’ features Coventry ringroad and the River Sherbourne, which ‘slithers’ through the city, mostly hidden underground but occasionally surfacing, like the city’s stories. Both poem and visuals tap into the imagery of circles, snakes and ouroboros (a snake swallowing its own tail that is used as a symbol of wholeness or infinity). It is a poem about the flow of traffic, river, time, lives…

Part 2) Time continues as a strong theme through ‘Clocking In/On/Off’. Here, the poetry is dropped into a dialogue featuring a mum, Liz, and her daughter, Kate. Kate is having problems with her boyfriend, Tim, and is harried by the pace of modern society. Can her mum (played by Jane Campion Hoye) help her or will mum and daughter always be talking at cross-purposes across each other? Poem and storyline are set against a background that includes the history of the ringroad, Coventry’s clockmaking past and World War 2 when Coventry was bombed.

Part 3) The words for the final part are taken mainly from the names of the ringroad junctions and the slightly surreal line “Tickets, please”. Repetition with difference, the sense of a magical mystery tour of Coventry and ghosts of past and future were underlying inspirations for this part. Ben’s visuals pick up on the movement (tracing) of car lights on the ringroad – creating an almost dancelike pattern. The poem’s repeated words slowly transform into a reverbed sound that is choral and ghostly.

The end of the film then circles the viewer back to the beginning…

A short piece about Disappear Here on the BBC, including a short reading by Sarah from one of the poems, can be viewed here.

That Night (Blackpool Illuminations prize poem)

‘That Night’ was winner of the Wordpool festival poetry competition 2014, animated for Blackpool Illuminations 2014.

That Night from Wordpool on Vimeo.