Poetry & Cinema

Poetry & Cinema

Explore the potent connections between poetry and cinema with acclaimed translator and film critic Adam Feinstein

Luis Buñuel called the cinema ‘an instrument of poetry, with all that word holds in its sense of liberation, subversion of reality, of a gateway to the marvellous world of the unconscious.’ In this course, we will be exploring the potent connections between poetry and the cinema –which operate in both directions. There are poems about the cinema – verse inspired by movies and movie-going, in which the poet is either celebrating film or reacting against celluloid saturation. Then there is the ‘poetry of the cinema’ – images or sequences which go beyond the dramatic or psychological to assume the mysterious haunting resonance and lyricism commonly associated with poetry. There is also the cinema of poets – films written by poets. Students will be asked to consider whether the ‘marriage’ between poetry and film has always been a fruitful one. Are there boundaries between the two art forms and, if so, where? Poetry is, in essence, about truth – often uncomfortable truth, whereas cinema may often feature deliberate artifice. Pier Paolo Pasolini, both a poet and film-maker, said language was full of abstractions and that these abstractions were impossible in the cinema, where every image is a concrete one (and therefore, by definition, an image is less meaningful than a word). For this course, we will look at poetry from the UK and Ireland (Tony Harrison, Douglas Dunn, Paul Muldoon) the work of American avant-garde poets – including Allen Ginsberg’s passion for Charlie Chaplin and Frank O’Hara’s obsession with both Hollywood and underground cinema – as well as notable poets from Europe and Latin America in translation. And through a number of film clips, we will examine ‘poetic’ cinema – in particular, the artistic kinship between Andrei Tarkovsky and his poet father, Arsenii.

5 weekly sessions on Thursdays 6.45pm – 8.45pm, starts 8 November.

All classes will be in our new offices at 1 Dock Offices, Surrey Quays Road, Canada Water, SE16 2XU. The venue is a 2-minute walk from Canada Water Station. Take the ‘Lower Road’ exit from the station onto Surrey Quays Road, then walk straight ahead, crossing over Deal Porters Way, and the Dock Offices come up on the left. The door for the school is at the far end of the building.

More information about how all our face-to-face courses work can be found on the Face-to-Face courses page.

Image Credit: ‘Classic Film’

About Adam Feinstein View Profile

Adam Feinstein is an acclaimed British author, poet, translator, Hispanist, journalist, film critic and autism researcher. His biography of the Nobel Prize-winning poet, Pablo Neruda: A Passion for Life, was first published by Bloomsbury in 2004 and reissued in an updated edition in 2013 (Harold Pinter called it ‘a masterpiece’). His book of translations from Neruda’s Canto General, with colour illustrations by the celebrated Brazilian artist, Ana Maria Pacheco, was brought out by Pratt Contemporary in 2013. His own poems and his translations (of Neruda, Federico García Lorca, Mario Benedetti and others) have appeared in numerous magazines, including PN Review, Agenda, Acumen, Poem and Modern Poetry in Translation. His book, A History of Autism: Conversations with the Pioneers (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), also received widespread praise (Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, director of Cambridge University’s Autism Research Centre, said it was ‘a treasure trove … and a terrific book’).  Feinstein also teaches Latin American cinema and has presented films from Latin America in many parts of the world. He is a specialist in the life and work of Michael Curtiz, the man who made Casablanca. He has presented Curtiz films and retrospectives throughout the UK, including at the Cambridge Film Festival, the Keswick Film Festival and the Cinema Museum in London.

‘Through this course I have finally found what I would love to do more than any of my other creative activities.’

– Spring 2018 survey response

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