I was right pleased and certainly humbled to be asked if I could take my Filmpoem project to Antwerp, to showcase alongside my best contemporary, Swoon, known only to his mother as Marc Neys. The Felix Poetry Festival takes place in the Felix Pakhuis, a delicately restored warehouse on the Willemdock to the north of the city. As part of the festival, Swoon and I were commissioned to do a joint Filmpoem for presentation at the Festival alongside our other work. The poem is called Aan Het Water and is by Bernard Dewulf, the City Poet for Antwerp: the city grew around The Scheldt, a magnificent river flowing north from France through to Zeeland en het Nederlands and Bernard’s words entwine a life growing in the city, that great bend in the river which divides the city and it’s industry to the north, the exit point. It was immediately clear to me we couldn’t make one film and so suggested to Swoon we do two, one in Dutch and one in English, using a commissioned sountrack by Luca Nasciuti to give us our boundaries, our parameters, our safety net. What is most intriguing is how without talking about what we might do, we both used women as our subject and both lingered outwith the urban area, mostly.

I love Swoon’s film, it’s perfect for the poem and it was a privilege to get to spend so much time in his generous company. Anyroad, I’ll be returning to Antwerp I reckon, to pick up this friendship and explore new ones with Bernard, arch poet and organiser of the festival Michael Vandebril and great English poet Will Stone. It seems that my wee Filmpoem project is leading its own life rather nicely. These are not experimental films, they are delicately constructed, made with care and attention, a dedication to the poet’s art. That’s my intention anyway, they may feel differently!

All images and films are copyright Alastair Cook 2017 unless expressly indicated otherwise.