Just before lockdown I shared a quiet couple of beers with Harry Owen and we talked about trying something new for the Virtual National Arts Festival. Seeing as we had lots of poetry and imagery between us why not collaborate? Here’s a taste of what we have been working on.
Aorta – Harry’s unpublished poem was initially prepared with Coming Home: Poems of the Grahamstown Diaspora in mind. It’s the first one that we worked on and has all of the elements that we have stuck with. There’s a voice-over to a sequence of images followed by the written text of the poem. A soundtrack backing the voice-over is the final strand of what we have put together.
The second piece is from Coming Home. It’s Gillian Rennie’s lovely small poem ‘Bots Aloes’. Harry again is the reader. Coming Home is published in East London by Amitabh Mitra’s The Poets Printery.
The last poem took a while to complete because we really wanted to track down the author – Hannah Armour – to get her reading of ‘Now’. She wrote this when she was ten and eight years have passed since then. It’s published in For Rhino in a Shrinking World: An International Anthology, edited by Harry Owen and published by The Poet’s Printery. Thanks to social media and our network of FaceBook we found her and she kindly gave us the voice-over.
We still have three more In Tandem videos that we are working on. They’re all longer than the ones we have done so far and consequently more complex. Watch this space!
One of the most memorable and heart felt poems in Harry Owen’s anthology For Rhino in a Shrinking World was written by 10 year old Hannah Armour. So it was an easy choice to be one of our In Tandem series of video clips for this year’s Virtual National Arts Festival. It’s read here by Harry himself though it would be fantastic if we can find Hannah (who must be around 18 by now and living in the USA) and get her to give us a recording for the voice-over. I’ve chosen the two rhino pictures to complement the poem and that’s the style of all of these clips. There are a sequence of images with a voice over and then the text of the poem. If you know how we can get in touch with Hannah please let us know.
I’ve been working on some cover concepts for Harry Owen’s upcoming collection ‘The Cull: new and resurrected poems’. It’s taken a while to get to the finished product but now both Harry and Amitabh Mitra, who’s publishing it through the Poets Printery, are very enthusiastic about this one.
The Cull: full cover
The basis for the cover is a picture of Harry taken in front of the fig tree in his Grahamstown garden.
I wanted to show him literally embedded in nature – that reflects the subject of this collection of poems – and experimented with Adobe Photoshop Mix on my iPad. I selected a couple of pictures from earlier this year when I went to the Maasai Mara and superimposed them over him so that the textures mixed together. Amitabh had suggested that I used some red in the cover so I added a garish sunset as the final layer.
Elephants in Maasai Mara
Young Lions in the Mara
I mirrored the final image so that it could act as both the front and back covers and then added borders and text.
Covers front and back
We had worked earlier with the same idea but using a landscape image for the front cover – that’s what’s shown in the slideshow here – but rejected that as the book will be in the standard portrait style with dimensions of 3 x 4.
I really like the way the elephant’s trunk and tusk merge with Harry’s face in this one. There’s plenty more animals too – giraffes, vultures and a hyena!
Spending the weekend with Harry at Cintsa was a little tricky .. after all were we at Cintsa, Chintsa or Chinsta (see first three pictures below)? And was it going to be a bachelor weekend for the two of us or were we going to be two Grumpy Old Men … I leave you to guess.
In any case we had a great time. The weather and light were nice for photography on the Friday evening and Saturday morning which is when I took most of these pictures. Palm trees taken with the black and white filter, squatting below the weaver birds’ nests, waiting for the sunbirds to sing and, as usual, night photos with long exposures: in other words the usual culprits! Fortunately the humpback whales were too far out for me to even try and photograph them. So I could just enjoy watching the mothers and calves breaching and twisting out of the water in unison, see the vertical tail waving and watch the splashing and bashing of the water that was going on. Here’s some great YouTube footage of Humpbacks breaching.
Saturday was also the handover of the international rhino anthology to Amitabh Mitra, Harry’s publisher in East London. You can read about that and see the photographic record in For Rhino in a Shrinking World. We came home on Sunday to the damp and drizzle of Grahamstown …
My contribution at last month’s Reddits Poetry evening was Waka Waka Bang Splat! I was inspired to seek out another ‘internet’ poem following Harry Owen’s hilarious reading of John Lindley’s ‘the F word’ the month previously . Waka Waka claims to be the World’s First (1990) Internet Special Characters Poem. It was published by Fred Bremmer and Steve Kroese in response to questions about just how to say < > ! * and all those other funny special characters. Thanks to Harry for helping with the flip chart version which allowed the audience to perform it in karaoke style ……