The Last Days

 

‘The Last Days’ by Lucy English

Go to sleep little boy.
Tonight there will be no gas attacks or bombs.
We will hide in the basement and I will sing to you
about the flowers in my Mother’s garden.
Do you remember we used to play there

in the grass with your sister?
Do you remember how tall the grass used to be?
Do you remember your sister?
She used to say you were not brave enough.
Go to sleep little boy.

I think I will try to sleep too. Before you were born
you were so small. You were like a little fish
and you slept safe in my sea cave.
I wish we could go back in time
then you would be safe and I could hold your sister.

Your father would pat my belly and be proud of us.
Perhaps I could go back further still
and sleep in my mother’s sea cave.
Where all I can hear is her heart
and not the scream of these fighter jets.

Go to sleep little boy.
Do not grow up and learn to hate.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Film Process Notes by Marie Craven
‘The Last Days’ began in a way a couple of years ago, when I first heard the voice of Lucy English in other poetry films arising from the (now disappeared) Poetry Storehouse website. Lucy’s voice and poetry remained with me over time, arising at odd moments in the course of my daily life. Then, in 2016, I saw on social media a call-out for new film collaborators for her multi-artist film and poetry project, ‘The Book of Hours‘. Exploring further, I found extraordinary films from Eduardo Yagüe, Marc Neys, Helen Dewbery, Matt Mullins and excellent others, all in collaboration with Lucy. As a whole collection, ‘The Book of Hours’ is a calendar of poetry films to encourage reflection. Excited at the prospect of being involved in this ambitious and awesome project, I made contact with Lucy. After a couple of brief email exchanges, I sent over a first draft assembly of images from a 1942 film by Joseph Losey and John Ferno, found in the public domain at the Prelinger Archives. This film, ‘A Child Went Forth’, was distributed at the time by the US National Association of Nursery Educators. Among other things, it dealt with the potential problem of wartime evacuation of city children. The images are sensitive portraits of children in various activities at a summer camp. I coupled selected images from this film with an audio recording found at ABC Radio National, of Lucy reading an earlier poem she had written. Lucy liked what I had done with this first draft of the film, but felt she wanted to write a new poem taking the images as inspiration. So earlier this year she sent over a new poem and voice recording. We went through a few more drafts of the film. I re-edited the voice and footage to three separate music pieces, giving a very different tone to each draft. We chose to go with a gentle piece by Kevin MacLeod, found on Creative Commons license. These three elements comprise the film, a lullaby for dark times and a call to the future.

Bio Marie Craven
Marie Craven assembles short videos from poetry, music, voice, stills and moving images by various artists around the world. Created via the internet, the pieces are essentially collaborative in nature. In 2016 her video ‘Dictionary Illustrations’ was awarded best film at the Ó Bhéal Poetry-Film Competition in Ireland.

Bio Lucy English
Lucy English is head of The Creative Writing Research Centre at Bath Spa University. Her specialisms are performance/spoken word poetry, public speaking and writing for digital platforms. Lucy is one of the organisers of MIX, the Bath Spa conferences in digital writing. She is co-creator of the poetry film organisation Liberated Words, which curates and screens poetry films. She is currently studying for a PhD in Digital Writing, creating a digital poetry film project, The Book of Hours.

Lucy has three novels published by Fourth Estate: Selfish People (1998), Children of Light (1999); and Our Dancing Days (2000).

 

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