• Poet Jem Goulding presents her cine poem The Bone Echo.
Poet Jem Goulding.


    27 August 2013

    By Hillary Sproul

    A poet is a person who writes poetry. Poetry is the art of rhythmical composition for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative or elevated thoughts. Jem Goulding is a poet. Her work excites the senses; softening hardened hearts and opening closed eyes.

    In 2011, Goulding’s debut cine-poem, “The Bone Echo” sent waves through the avant-garde scene, winning several awards including Best Experimental Short at the Atlanta Film Festival, the Chicago International Film Festival and even receiving special honors at the London Short Film Festival. In total, the film was nominated for 14 total festival awards.

    This 16mm experimental project featured Alice Dellal, Eliza Cummings and Josh Beech and even boasted an original soundtrack by the legendary Sonic Youth and Disappears. This previously unchartered territory found in combining cinema and poetry was met with high applause. Currently the only published poet actively making films, Goulding’s next project seeks to break even higher grounds. ‘World Peace Wet Dream’ is a “carnal guilt” poem depicting a tempestuous relationship between Egypt and Israel, metaphorically representing a particularly hostile kind of love.

    Her fearlessness to live large and charter grounds unknown, inspire the very beauty and romance that poetry itself seeks to capture. Her impressive body of work is not only visually stimulating, but emotionally striked. Her unbridled sexuality and honest portrayals of the modern human condition are arresting and addictive, captivating the audience with a surprising ability to communicate a perfect balance of both masculine and feminine perspectives.

    Currently, Goulding is working on her first book, “The Companion”. The project is an ongoing series of travel anecdotes and intimate photographs documenting her own emancipation through the inescapable romances brought on by a vociferous appetite for adventure. With an established following for both her written and photographic work (and having leaked a preview of six images from these journeys in 2009), her first solo book is widely anticipated.

    Last month, her more recent poetry was published in a collection entitled “Loveloss”. She appeared next to fellow artist and poetry trailblazer Robert Montgomery, with whom she is developing an imminent poetry duet as their next book together. This union between two great minds seems inevitable considering their impressively comparable abilities to sexualize British poetry with sculpture and film, like no other writers in recent years have been able to do.

    Goulding currently resides in London where she is in the process of editing her first documentary- an intimate one-on-one with ballet prodigy Sergei Polunin in Moscow. Via E-mail, I spoke with her briefly about her beginnings and experiences as an artist:

    Hillary Sproul: What was your first experience with the camera? I assume you were a photographer first. If this is true, how did you transition into enlivening your images by bringing them into motion via camera?

    Jem Goulding: You assume wrong actually… I had made two or three moving image projects before I considered picking up a stills camera. My first camera experience was with a 16mm Pailiard Bolex. It's still the only camera I really use in my filmmaking. First it was with cinematographers thier kits, until an ex-boyfriend bought me my own mint condition 1970s Bolex as a gift. I called her Norma –Jean.

    I normally travel with a Super 8 camera too, just for reportage and future archiving; the negatives will come in handy for art shows, and installations. Photography was an accident. I only started in 2009 on very irresponsible getaway in Morocco with a Swedish boy called Jon, who I barely knew. I just took photographs of this mindless trip together. We took to the Atlas Mountains on a little 35mm automatic. When I got the contacts back, no one would believe they were my pictures. My two closest photographer friends Nacho Alegre and RJ Shaughnessy insisted I needed to keep shooting, exactly in this way… so I did. It’s interesting, looking back on the photographs, I’m glad I distilled this experience in pictures. It had its time, but transience does not have the same allure for me that it once did... though the balance of power and vulnerable in men still does. I’m currently working with Leica on a series in Israel, which explores this in more of a socio-political way.

    H.S.: Poetry works well as film. Do you ever have the instinct to transition into narrative filmmaking? What experience have you had with narrative filmmaking?

    J.G.: I've made quite a few narrative pieces. Even though “The Bone Echo” has been classified as an art film, it still has a story- it’s just a surreal one. My second cine-poem, “World Peace, Wet Dream” is in post-production now. It also has a narrative… again, an abstract one set in alternative reality. My most linear of narrative film making, was probably a fun short film I made for the Mystery Jets, it was essentially a music video, so the story was lots more digestible and pretty 'pop'. I just tend to steer clear of music videos as a filmmaker, I don’t like the industry that comes along with it, but each time I do one, I learn so much about formulaic narratives.

    Other than this ballet documentary I’m making now, I’m working on mastering the craft of storytelling everyday. It’s a constant quest, and why I move between words and pictures all the time. Most recently I’ve started storytelling through sculpture. My first solo show will include three sculptures that embody a particular experience I’d like to recount. The way I see it, story telling is an art form- so I tell them in different forms.

    I’ve started a novel that I know will take all of my time and energy in the near future. It’s a commitment, but I hope the biographical subject will lend itself to screen one day. I sometimes wonder if cinema for the masses had been around when so many of my favourite writers were writing through history, whether they too would aspire to adapt they words for moving image. I suspect so.

    H.S.: Thanks for the interview.

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