Friday, 16 December 2011

Progress is being made at last!

Since my last post I've actually been quite busy on this project which, I'm not going to lie, is nice and a little but novel!

Firstly I've been working on my physical portfolio - it's a sketchbook where I'm printing and mounting every aspect of the project to keep a more in-depth track of what's going on with everything and so that my marking tutor has something to look through when assessing my Reflective Essay. Doing this has actually been quite therapeutic for me as the layout is much like my old Graphic Design folders from A-Level, so that's lovely and a time consuming process that I'm really enjoying.

I've had a couple of Uni deadlines over the last couple of weeks - mainly my project brief for The Little Poetry Project. I had to write 2000 words explaining the project, any issues that may arise from it and how I would solve them as well as a discussion about the forms of assessment for the final product. Exciting but stressful times. the other deadline was more another module - Shakespeare, and was nothing short of a nightmare! but they are out the way.

As this project is involved with Voices of Bath 2012 I also have to meet their deadlines as well as my own and for this week I had to do a Showcase - a new form of presentation to me! It was basically a 5 minute talk where I stood infront of the organisers of The Bath LitFest and explained my project to them. It all seems like quite the blur now but I was very, very nervous. The fact that I've found my poet[Jesse Perrett] is immensely useful, as I'm sure you can imagine, because it allowed me to give a flavour of his work to the organisers without disclosing which poem of his I'd be using. I'll post some of his stuff in the near future, I need to ask him permission before doing so as it's not my work!

Speaking of Jesse, I am writing this blog right after meeting with him to discuss ideas for the film. I want him to be involved in this so that I don't destroy his work through terrible visual interpretation. So far, so good. We sat down in a lovely little café in town and just discussed different visual ideas for a couple of his poems and certain locations that could be used for filming in and around Bath, with a few places in Bristol. This means that I now need to research filming permissions with Bristol Council (which I've already done with Bath council) as well work on getting the equipment and talking to the manager of The Little Theatre about getting the advert screened. I'm now finally positive about this project again as after my panic I began to waver and lose faith - but no more! Jesse's ideas for locations were really helpful as he's a poet who has lived in Bath most of his live, giving him the local knowledge of the best places to film and perhaps even some locations that have him the inspiration for his poems.

In my proposal I likened this film to be like a music video with conceptual shots mixed with performance shots, some form the Bath LitFest itself, however this then got me thinking about how poetry has been interpreted into film, such as 'A Song of Lunch' and the recent blockbuster 'Howl' about the obscenity trial that surrounded Allan Ginsburg's beat poem in 1957. The interpretations in the film of the poem itself are beautiful animations that capture the images of the poem perfectly. There are also back and white shots of James Franco (Ginsberg) preforming the poem in 1955 as a part of the San Francisco Renaissance (a group of writers to include Jack Kerouac and William Everson. Below is the trailer for the film and a short clip of the opening section of the poem. It's the combination of the different uses of film that have interested me the most and have lead me to the idea of using lots of different images such as stock images and films, shots of Jesse performing and perhaps some animation.



Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Things are moving quite slowly...

Unfortunately, I have been slow with this project, after my little wobble I lost a lot of confidence in what I was doing and I wasn't sure where to begin again. However, I do now think that I have found my poet, and hopefully my poem, that I'm going to use for this project.

The poet is called Jesse Perrett and he's a lovely person. His work is cutting and witty and as he has grown up in and around Bath, giving his poems a sense of the local about them - which is perfect for this project as it ties in nicely with Voices of Bath - local voices from local people - and will give everyone something to relate to. 

The poem I think that will be using of his is 'After the Bombs Fall (The Dead Poets are Dreaming)' as it's descriptive and gives a lot of room for interpretation, which I'm very excited about. I just need to knuckle down and get on with it now.

I'm also very close to handing in my proposal - I got the draft back the other day and I've been working through that so once that's in and I've got my other pre-christmas deadline finished I can begin looking into contacting The Little Theatre about the screening and working out if I need any fundraising to be done!


I'm also meeting with Voices of Bath next week along with David Metcalfe who runs the monthly Storytelling night at The Raven, Bath, to 'showcase' my idea so that he can get an idea of what will be happening on the opening night of the Bath Literature Festival. I'm a little bit nervous so we shall see how that goes - I hope to work more on my portfolio before then but I have a big deadline for the 13th and I'll get jetting off to Paris for a couple of days with the University so I'm not sure how that will go in the end!

I think that's about it for now, as I said it's all going a bit slowly but if I don't keep posting then I'll never know where I am!
  

Friday, 25 November 2011

Just a [not so] little update

So, after one very keen poet getting back to me with a small collection of their work I'm very excited about this project - even more so that before.

I have 1000/2000 words down for the dissertation proposal [yay] which is a compulsory essay where I explain my project, possible problems and discuss my ideas for assessment and marking, all of which I think are slowly beginning to fall into place. I'm literally buzzing about this because I thought I'd be terrible at writing it and it's one reason why I decided to steer clear of an 8000 word written dissertation (I know it's small compared to some papers) but I think the way that I'm planning to lay my assessments out will actually amount to a lot more than that. I plan to keep this blog going as a dumping ground for sources and the like but then have a physical portfolio to be marked and assessed, with two reflective essays; one around the time of the Bath Lit. Fest. and the other at the end of the project.

I have also been thinking about other places that poetry has been used in adverts and I had an answer right in front of me all along: The Tube. Over the years there has been a great increase in poetry being used in the poster adverts around the Tube in London, not all them relating directly to London, or to travelling; some of them are just beautiful pieces of writing. During my poetry module last year I bought Best Poems on the Undergound, an anthology editied by Gerard Benson, Judith Chernaik and Cicley Herbert (Available from here.) Judith Chernaik was the bright spark that decided to begin this project in 1986 and they are changed around three times a year. Here's what TfL have to say on the subject and here's the Random Poem of the Day, as well as having a full poem archive.

Here's one image of how they are displayed around The Undergound, you can just image this sitting above your head as you speed along to your destination:

 1
The illustration on this poster actually differs from the one that has been published within my copy of Best Poems on the Undergound but both are suitably fitting to the poem (the one in the book being of a man sitting down). It's a poem about death and how we learn to embrace the parting of others but it's also about power - 'I SIT DOWN' shows a command over his own actions as if even in a busy city he will still be his own person whereas 'BOOMS' in capital letters suggests a great deal of force behind the noise of the bell, support by the description of it being 'great'. It's a very sensual poem in that respect as it depicts perfectly the smell of the cedar wood and churchyard whilst using very concise language, giving the reader a sense of the atmosphere within the St. Botolph Churchyard. the use of the word 'toddling' is very interesting and playful as well, contrasts against the ideas of power from earlier in the poem as it's a movement that suggests unsteadiness and childishness - someone who is not so in control of their actions.

Call me romantic, but this is one of my favourite poems in the book and it's the thought I'm going to end this post with.

She Tells Her Love

She tells her love while half asleep,
   In the dark hours
      With half-words whispered low:

As Earth stirs in her winter sleep
   And puts out grass and flowers
      Despite the snow,
      Despite the falling snow.

Robert Greaves (1895-1985) 2



1. Betjeman, J., 'City', [online] Available from: http://www.poetrysociety.org.uk/content/education/resources/  [accessed on: 25/11/2011]

2. Greaves, R., 'She Tells Her Love'., In: Best Poems on the Underground, ed. Benson, G., Chernaik, J. and Herbert, C., London: Phoenix 2010 pg.107

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

We're slowly getting somewhere!

All right lads so we're off the starting block. I've been in contact with a couple of poets, which is lovely, after some fabulous plugging from Tegan (@poppetpup) to which I'm very grateful for.

So I've got a couple of people that emails have been flying to and fro between and things are looking up for this little project.

Now, I've just got assemble my thoughts about it all and then knuckle down write my project proposal for this - it might even have a structure then!

Some more research on the way - just compiling some notes, ideas and references.

If you're a passing poet, drop me a line: ellen.melhuish09@bathspa.ac.uk

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

So I had a little wobble...

Yes, I'm afraid to say that I have actually been debating killing this project for about a week now. However, the alternative I had just wouldn't have worked, not that the people involved are entirely aware of this yet, but they soon will be.

A friend of mine (@poppetpup) is co-ordinating the opening night of The Bath Lit Fest 2012 for her Creative Enterprise Project and has asked for people to help her with projects to happen on the night and I just couldn't resist being involved. For it I thought of falling to my other idea for a dissertation roughly titled "The Bath Book Review" but everything that it encompassed would be too much of a high-risk task for something as important as my degree. So I have returned, like a beaten wife, back to this glorious poetry project with a new, determined fire in my belly. The Book Review idea would have involved an already used idea of the general public (not journalists and critics) writing reviews of the book they were reading or had just finished, then collating these reviews and having some way of them being posted to a website and bookshops involved and oh, it was quite the pantomime. This a truncated view of the idea as there are many other factors of it that make it immensely tricky to achieve in general and in the timescale I have.

Alongside this, the main reason for coming back to this project is actually because I spoke to my parents about it. I have always been able to turn to them when I needed help and they came through for me again; something that I am lucky to have and shall always be grateful for, but, I digress. I set out before them my two ideas: This project the and alternative idea of the reviews. My gut instinct told me to follow through on this one and, agreeing with me, they helped me to see it from a slightly different perspective; it's time work backwards.

What is it that I want to achieve?
To make poetry more accessible to the everyday person.

How have I chosen to do this?
By converting poetry into film, which then be shown as an advert.

How will I go about combining this with the Bath Lit Fest 2012 and why?
Why? This project, even from it's earliest flickers of life, has been about Bath so why not grab a chance to combine it with the annual Lit Fest and really get the fires burning? And I shall combine them by having a sort of preview for the lit fest of my poetical film, which will then be screened at a later date. (Although I need to confirm this with a few people first) As this is my general dumping ground for everything that happens I wanted to write it up first - everything is still flexible at this stage.

And so I now have a slightly new structure of how I was the project to unfold and what I want the final product(s) to be. I also feel slightly more confident about how I'm going to go about the filming, too, which is a bonus. I do, however, need to get everything approved before I post about that. But all in good time.

So I think that this is all that I can really say at the moment because I'm tied by other people and sitting down and actually getting on with writing my proposal that's due in next month.

Time to get emailing.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Just a little splash of research

So things are finally getting rolling. I have a dissertation tutor and I've had a quick "how to" of how I get this started so here we go!

Since having this idea I have been aware that I am not the only one to combine the idea of poetry and advertising, in fact it is quite a popular combination. However, the obvious focus of those adverts are on their product, with the poem/poet being a by-product and tool that is shown to highlight the actual product being sold, whilst raising a secondary aware for itself. 


I have found a couple of articles that discuss the matter of how poetry has been used previously within advertising and how it has been received by the poets and the public alike. One very useful article on this from The Guardian website posted about two years ago, just after a McDonalds advert and one for Cathedral City cheese were aired using poetry (both below), the main basis of the article still holds fast; poetry is still very much in the public eye, even if we don't know it. Leo Hickman went as far as to interview some poets to gain a reaction on the fact that poetry had been used within an advert, finding that some poets feel that it has a tendency to "degrade" the poem, or song, if it is used with disrespect to the art form and/or the poet. Whilst other poets enjoy the fact that have been commissioned to write a befitting poem for their product such as Nick Toczek, who wrote a poem for a Prudential advert, "[h]e welcomes the exposure that advertising offers poetry"1. This mixed reaction from some poets alone seems to have shaken up the mix of the ancient medium of poetry whilst combining it with more modern uses of film, tv and the tool of capitalist society; advertising.

The examples mentioned in the article are here:







The second article I found (which I read first) actually disappointed me by being something almost like plagiarism of Hickman's article, just making general assumptions about how poets feel rather than actually interviewing them himself. I think if you read the two articles you'll agree; that man should not be allowed to be a journalist.

But I digress. As aforementioned in Hickman's article, Centre Parcs used the poem 'Leisure' - W.H. Davies to promote their relaxing holiday parcs around Europe. This is an advert that personally I have remembered mostly due to the cinematography mirroring the reoccurring line within the poem of "We have no time to stand and stare"l. 2 2.
The scenes follow the pattern of:
  1. Moving images
  2. Stills
  3. The camera pans around the scene
  4. Action is continued
  5. New scene and next phrase of the poem appear. 
The only difference in in the last scene is it begins as a still and then becomes a moving image, reflecting how the parc is a place where you do have time to stand and stare because you're on holiday, whilst also showing the beauty and activities that are within the parc. The poem itself is a contemplation on the beauty that is all around us, but we don't see it because of being wrapped up in our own lives "full of care" and so it can pass us by. Although Bates UK, the production company behind the advert, chose to truncate the poem by missing out the personification of Beauty in the lines

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
                                                               ll.7-12 3
In doing so, Bates UK have lost the beauty of the poem itself by cutting out a literary technique that allows for the imagination to explore the vision W.H. Davies is trying to create and have lost some of the beauty of the art form, and selling the public an adapted form of the poem; a white lie. Perhaps this is a sign of the disrespect that Roger McGough was referring to in Hickman's article.




1.Hickman, L., 'The Rise of Poetry in Advertising" In: The Guardian, 2009 [Online] Available from:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2009/dec/02/rise-poetry-in-advertising [accessed on: 2.11.2011]

2. Daves, W.H., 'Leisure', EnglishVerse.Com, 2006 [Online] Available from: http://www.englishverse.com/poems/leisure [accessed on: 2.11.2001] l. 2

3. Ibid. ll. 7-12

Sunday, 16 October 2011

In Place of an Introduction

'The Little Poetry Project' is an idea that has been brewing on and off for about a year now. As a final year English Literature student at Bath Spa University, I plan to transform the art of poetry into the art of film, using local poets, businesses and a lot of help from my friends to create nothing short of an advert.

At this stage and as an academic I need to justify my sources for the idea of this project. Studying Poetry in second year I was presented with the book 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem by Ruth Padel. This book is a collection of her readings and responses to poems she enjoyed, published in The Independent on Sunday about 10 years ago. Within her fascinating introduction she discusses how poetry is seen to be difficult, when it's not at all and how that compares to other art forms:

For all art forms move forward, and many twenty-first-century films are far more 'difficult' that films of twenty years ago. They use more shorthand, move faster, imply more. They would have been incomprehensible in the twenties. We understand how they operate without realising how much work we are doing to understand, how much experience film convention, tricks of the trade,goes into our response. Most people have not evolved their ways of reading a poem in the same way, or kept pace with poetry as it developed.1

From this an idea sprouted; if film had become so easy to understand for the masses, with its subtleties and complexities, then poetry should be likewise. Why not combine the two to place poetry in the forefront of the public eye once again?

This advertisement will be bringing across the ideas within the poem through film to the public. I plan to have to the poet closely involved in this process, giving the poet more 'P.R' as it were as well as advertising the University itself. The final stage of this project will be laying down the fundamental agreement to have it shown before a popular film in a local cinema within Bath.

As this is in the early stages, as in I don't even have a dissertation tutor yet to say this is okay, I am jumping the gun somewhat and anything I've said above could change. However, because of this, I have began this blog to track the process of the project as whole. It's a useful medium where a lot of sources can become a central point of reference. It will also be where I will be hosting an ideas ground; such as if I have trouble choosing a poet/poem; where I will place videos or photos of the process and where I hope that the general public will post their ideas, to see if we can infuse them too. I want this to be a fun project where the product at the end reflects the poet, poem and shows how much love and care will go into this.

I hope to incorporate a lot of social networking and technology within this project, so keep an eye out for a Twitter account and possibly a Facebook group within the next couple of months.

The schedule will be tight, so hold on to your hats folks.


1. Padel, R., 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem: A Poem for Every Week of the Year, Vintage Publishing, London, 2004 pg.4