Janet Lees Interview

December 2022
 from Yorkshire, UK

With our Open Call for next year’s Poetry Film competition about to launch, Tania, Suresh and Dan from JÁ asked British poetry filmmaker Janet Lees – who will be president of our jury in April 2023 – a number of questions about this burgeoning art form…

To define poetry film, Janet quoted Canadian videopoetry pioneer Tom Konyves: “My view is that poetry is the result of a judicious poetic juxtaposition of text, image and sound. The poetry in a video poem thus ceases to be simply the text element, instead an entirely new form of poetic experience can be produced. This new experience depends on the artist’s intuitive skill in recognising the collaborative potential of the three elements, as well as the audience’s skill of recognition that the convergence of these elements can in fact result in more than a narrative told in visual terms.”

Janet had some fascinating replies, particularly when she evokes the “magic” that comes both from the combination of these three elements and when there is a dissonance between them, the points at which sound, images and text tug in different directions.

For Janet, what is important about a poem is what it makes you feel. For her, the “emotional intention” is at the heart of the genesis of a poetry film.