Stephen Sexton won the National Poetry Prize with this poem and the Poetry Society commissioned Alastair to make it into a poetry-film. Stephen noted, on seeing the film –
“I catch a lot of little riffs on some of the words or lines, and this is really wonderful and exciting to see. I guess one thing that stands out is the clearing of the animals and knife and other stuff from the table. In my mind, there is some sort of connection between the animals and the miners: animals are free to roam, miners aren’t. The knife certainly represents some kind of ‘violence’, and just before the things are cleared off the table in the film, there is the assembly of animals encircling the knife, and a human figure. I really like this image — it points a sense of threat that is somewhere in the back of the poem. In some way or another, I think this assortment sums up the poem. I find it to be quite a poignant image.
Overall, I interpret the film as, wonderfully, someone (the speaker of the poem, I suppose) under curfew in their home, fiddling about with old belongings since they’ve nothing better to do to pass the time. These objects then bring to mind the story about the grandfather etc. This situation of the film is fantastic — I understand the logic entirely. Interestingly, when I picture the scene of the poem, it is in a flat a couple of floors up, much like you have depicted.
The sound is incredible. Maybe it’s because I choose to hear it, but it brings to mind a kind of industrial racket, but there is something creaturely about some of the sounds too. Your reading of the poem is wonderful — it’s strange and great to hear all the little nuances of the language. Thank you for taking such care with it.
I find the film moving. This is the first time anything like this has happened with anything I’ve written, and I must thank you for the care you’ve taken with the poem, and the attention you’ve given it. It’s a privilege to have you think about the poem and produce this film, and I am very grateful for everyone’s work!”