The Monthly speaks to Moyra Donaldson about her Poetry Films

You have been creating poetry films lately. Could you talk a little about that?

This is something I haven’t done before, bringing poems to light through connecting them with film. It is a new experience for me and I have really enjoyed doing it. With the way this year has been, the cancellation of festivals and readings, I feel that this ensures that there is something creative happening with my work. It really has been wonderful to have these poetry films to send out into the world.

Is this part of your work through the Arts Council’s Major Artist Award?

The award has been really important for me because I had time to think about what I wanted to do and what direction I wanted to move in. It also meant that I had a financial cushion, which allowed me to do things I might not otherwise have been able to do. This wasn’t part of the proposal which I submitted to the Arts Council, so it is not directly part of that work, but it has occurred because of the award.

How do you go about having the films produced?

I am working with Frontier Pictures. We have discussions about a number of poems and then chose which ones to work with. I think it is important that the filmmaker feels a connection to the poem, there is something in the poem that they can relate to. Once that has happened I pretty much let the film maker (Thomas Pollock and Frontier Pictures) get on with it. I’m interested to see their interpretation of the words and the material.

How do you do the voice recordings?

A couple of methods. During the most extreme period of the Lockdown I recorded material on my phone and sent it to Thomas. I think it might not have been up to his high standards regarding the sound quality, so at other times I have been able to go to record with Thomas and use his recording equipment. I am very happy with the end result and I think we have produced something pretty impressive given the circumstances.

One of the films was nominated for an award?

I was delighted that one of the films made the shortlist for the Ó Bhéal International Poetry Film Awards and it was up against poems from nearly 50 countries. There were entries with high production values and a team of creatives behind them, so it was great that our little film caught the eye of the judges and was shortlisted and shown at the festival.

Where to now?

I am working on a new collection and I am writing material on the theme of the relationship between mothers and daughters. I do hope to continue working with Thomas on more films next year. Of course this will be when everything regarding the pandemic opens up a bit and I am organising my work for next year.

See Moyra Donaldson’s Website at the following link –

artist forms link
New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership is a registered charity (XR 36570) and a company limited by guarantee (Northern Ireland NI 37645).Registered with The Charity Commission as New Belfast Community Arts Initiative - NIC105169.