Three Videopoems from Janet Lees

by | Mixed Media

EGG: Artist’s Statement: When I was growing up, my un-chosen family avatar was always The Drama Queen (I ‘overreacted’, or was ‘too sensitive’, or ‘worried too much’), when actually my heart just hurt a lot of the time in response to things happening around me and in the wider world – something that’s part of the territory for poets. I wanted to reflect and reclaim this persona with ‘egg,’ the making of which filled me with a kind of wild glee. The poem, which came out of a dream, touches on sex and anxiety and coming-of-age disillusionment, all of which I tried to capture obliquely in the visual elements of the film. The hardest thing was finding the right music, but the minute I heard this unashamedly dramatic track by Fareoh, I knew it was right. The poem was originally published as ‘There is something wrong with her heart’ in Lighthouse magazine, UK.




CRUSH: Artist’s Statement: The poem at the heart of this videopoem is a reflection on the less lovely, more violent realities of ‘young love.’ Like many young people, I was subject to all-consuming crushes as a teenager. Infatuation can make you do anything; rejection can make you feel as though you’ve been turned inside-out and left for dead. Like many women, I have also experienced sexual oppression and violence. I found the doll in a bucket in a junk shop. She appears in the film exactly how I found her, without skirt or trousers. Her exposed and seemingly vulnerable state spoke powerfully to me. As we were driving back from the junk shop I put her on the dashboard and it just looked right, recalling dreams of being in a driverless car, with no control over my fate.  The poem was originally published in my collection ‘A bag of sky,’ from Frosted Fire Press.




INSOMNIA: Artist’s Statement: I wanted to capture the nerve-shredding, washing-machine-head qualities of sleeplessness, how it opens the floodgates to anxiety, shame and obsessive thoughts and actions. My strategies for sleeplessness include, but are not limited to, making anagrams; the lines of text are all anagrams of ‘insomnia’. I tried to reflect the feelings of insomnia in the visual, which is time-lapse footage of the view from my bedroom window in negative, as well as with the saw-like music and the glitchy type.


About The Author


Janet Lees is a lens-based artist and poet. Her films have been selected for many festivals and screenings, including the Zebra Poetry Film Festival, the Aesthetica Art Prize and the International Vidoepoetry Festival. Her art photography has been exhibited around the world and her poetry is widely published and anthologized. She has had two books published: House of Water, a collection of her poems and art photographs sponsored by Culture Vannin (the Manx Heritage Foundation) and A bag of sky, the winning collection in the Frosted Fire Firsts prize hosted by the UK’s Cheltenham Poetry Festival.