The film poem Replenishment was created as part of The Watercycle project with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment - the digital score for the film poem was written as the overture for a symphony written for performance by the OAE and Wiltshire schoolchildren, based on my poem (you'll find a more details about the main project in my Projects section and in my blog for The Arts in Wiltshire - see link opposite).
The poem Replenishment was written for a competition run by the Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford on Avon - the theme of which was the importance of water in the town. I entered at the last minute, following a walk along the river and canal in the town just after Christmas 2014. I was in that deflated, post-Christmas mood - my son and daughter had just gone back home, the food had all been eaten, presents assimilated into day-to-day life, that kind of thing. So the poem came out as a bit of a meditation on that sense of emptiness, and how a simple walk and a re-connection with nature, people and myself helps realign everything. The poem won the competition, and what followed was an extraordinary journey with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
People at an event at the Wiltshire Music Centre were invited to record one line each of my poem in a recording booth set up for the purpose, and those lines were united to re-form the poem in the film. OAE clarinetist Katherine Spencer and composer Dan Thomason spent a morning recording wild and exotic (so it seemed to me) notes and other sounds on Katherine's marvellous 'family' of period instruments, and Dan pulled together those, the voices, and other sounds, and with alchemical wizardry created the haunting sound track/overture. Oliver Brown's film, as you will see (click on the link opposite), draws everything together with delicate, mesmerising images. It was a privilege to be part of this collaboration, and the film poem has quite rightly been making its way in the world following its 2015 premiere at the Wiltshire Music Centre, featuring in several film festivals, including the Cannes Short Film Festival in September 2015.
It starts like this. A single drop
falls like a full stop
from railway bridge
The sharp plink in echo-quiet
halts your march,
stands you heron still, alone.
The sun on water flicks light upwards
to concrete. Its dance dazzles
a winter fly, halts its tinpot zizz,
lands it on your coat sleeve
and there you are, two under a bridge,
taking a breather.
Out towards the Tithe Barn, the river
picks up pace and people,
its low-pitched push past the banks
the sound canvas for a new blue bike,
a rush for the swings, gran's visit.
When a carrier bag rustles,
mallard appear from nowhere, everywhere,
Bread blobs and plops
from small, inexpert fingers.
The water boils with frenzy.
Afterwards, two swans dip their bills
with the dapple-patter
of genteel applause at the opera.
Up the hill, two kayaks are lowered
smack, smack, into the canal.
The rowers wobble from land to water.
You expect a splash,
but the sharp whiz of spray deck zips
brings instant evolution - slick amphibians
with oars that stroke water
with something like love.
Above, rooks fill bare branches
with dark, endless jawing,
but walkers' talk comes and goes
At Lock 14 (closed 5th to 9th January
for urgent top gate repairs)
the pike-deep, hollow pouring
is a giant's bathtub, always filling.
A narrowboat slows, turns, reverses,
the thrust-away water a sudden fuss.
A little girl on the towpath
sings 'Twinkle, twinkle',
and sunshine, unexpectedly warm,
closes your eyelids.
The lock fills, fills.