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A dispatch from

Stephen WATTS

THE LIBERATED FILM CLUB—the second publication from TENEMENT PRESS—is a collection of unabridged transcriptions, special commissions and texts anchored in a series of screenings held at London’s CLOSE-UP FILM CENTRE (2016 to 2020) curated by Stanley SCHTINTER.

From its onset to its end—the CLUB guaranteed a wide wingspan for critical conversation. Screening LIBERATED FILM (titles drawn from SCHTINTER’s expansive archive of ‘lost, suppressed and impossible’ film), a guest would be invited to introduce a film; an audience seated to watch it through; but there’d be a disruption to that typical format. Neither the audience nor the guest would have any idea what film would be shown, and this anonymised arrangement would invite broad and antagonistic perambulation on the what, the why and the how of film; on the act(s) of showing, sharing and seeing.

Playing with the ways we reproach the institutions built around all of our cultures of making, and the manners and methods of an elsewhere dominant culture of consumption, THE LIBERATED FILM CLUB was a rare reflection on the act of reflection itself. This collection—an unabridged collation of works pertaining to this series (forthcoming with TENEMENT this October)—is a unique proposition. It is urgent, exciting and sincere in its silliness; challenging received notions of critical exchange, and abandoning entirely the dogma of atomised, predictable viewing. It is a profound celebration of community and conversation, and a timely paean to free, shared space.

See below for a recording from the launch of this publication at CLOSE-UP FILM CENTRE on October 23rd 2021Stephen WATTS’ recitation of the collection’s CODA, I AM A FILM ...


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I am a film
The forest of red spruce is burning inside me
The gold of my intestines is a frozen lake of rain
The tree in my eye is a thousand years old
I am a film. The skins
Of my dream are forty-five buffalo hides
The urinal of heaven is resin burnt to dust.

I am a film.
A black line of nomads on a march of winter snow
A vestige of nightmare in the core of a mountain ash
A collapsed sheep fed apricots above the tree line
The mobility of resin in sleets of blood-berry time
The pulsing of blood in ancestor’s shadows 

I am a film. I am a shroud
Over the face of a girl cornered by monotony.
I am a shroud placed by the art of political morons.
I am the flimsy space where breath can’t decay.
I am the way where there never was a way.
I am a film.

I am the ewe’s milk sold from the shack
The cheeses of despair out in the vodka ruts
The archives left out on the rooves to dry
The persistence to choose without knowing why
The words that form in the slick of the liver
The antonym of trauma in the road-edge hut
This is language that forms in the gut
I am a film.

I am Rumi who climbs in my un-windowed wall
I am Rilke who meets me up the deep stairwell 
I’m Marina who gazes through my shut-eyed eye
I’m Jibanananda tossed high by a car out of hell
I’m Cesar Vallejo in some burnt mestizo cell
I’m Chairil Anwar in the highest high-rise
I’m despair on despair that climbers despise
I am a film.

I’m the sun seen through the belly of a horse
I’m a foal un-foaled by the red mare’s nurse
I’m a raft in the rapids, a curse in the floods
I am vodka urns drunk down incessant muds
I’m the moon that falls in the deep tureen
I’m the mean of meaning, the meaning 
Of mean, the algebra of language.
I am a film.

The gabbeh of colour & the gabbeh of dream
Five little children in a meadow of poppies
A class-full of goats in a blue tent’s screen
Five little children who wake up & scream
Forty-five gabbehs laid to dry by a torrent
Rags of colour tied to the trees
I am a film.

I am gorse that burns in the coconut air
Coma crests of storm that march on the moor
Shark’s teeth of islands across a burnt-out sea
Displaced peasants beneath a monopoly flag
Legion on legion of exiled contadini
Paths to the shielings that run into bog-weed
Scratches of song from a muted tongue
I am a film.

Four-billion-year-old mountains seen from a plane
A shepherd’s language shared by fifteen men
A whole earth held in a spun pool of water
A vagina betrayed by a single red garter
This is language climbing from the aorta
I am a film.

A cone of wood for the making of charcoal
Smoke rising straight from an emptied village
Season on seizure in an unfinished ritual
Thunder walls on an epic snow journey
One warm commitment that is never enough
I am a film.

Children. A necklace
From a war yet to come.
Fragments. Scoriae. A rebuilt city.
Ten thousand incomprehensible avenues.
In the midst of this rehearsed world
That only stuns with its affluence.
Naturally we rejected the scars of
A disremembered time.
Memory that seeks out its scars.
As if its bricks were bruised off air.
As if the tenderest child were to
Shed her own dear life.
As if the Hanging Gardens were
No longer hanging in green time.
All the protesting nonsense of
Intricate days burnt down to nothing.
I am a film.

Such pure faces, such masked
Energies, such perverse visions.
O angel
Smile in the foetus of the world
O smile of angels here in our now.
Komitas the mad never made a film
But nor did he not ever make a film.
His whole unwayward life was one
Unwavering commitment of film,
A reel that ….


Or when you put your eye
So close up to a flower you can
No longer make out what it is
But a blur of blue and shape.
But its filaments, its stamen
Are still there, miraculous
Growths of what can only be.
Extraordinary world patterns :
That from which we were made.
Or like a chapel in the mountains
Rorsached with winter snows.
Or like the astonishing vortex of
Crepe that a mouse makes her nest
From, as complex as any
Mathematical structure of our earth,
Worked only by instinct & trust.
Such nests I preserved in my home
Until they were burnt accidentally
In the cold winters of regeneration. 

Film is prosaic poetry only
Because poetry is essentially
Prosaic : what is quotidian still is
The stuff of our daily bread.
Pasolini knew that : but who
Knows Pasolini in these days.
In these days of autism & bliss.
Who knows the urge of his rabbia
The contexts of his urgent rage
Though we occupy glutton cities
And try to energise new options.
Pasolini knew poetry is work.

Film, I tell you, is the most urgent & radical prosaic.
Film is pure poetry in our beautifully impure world.
Whirl of pattern in the innermost whorl of our brain.
Vagrant tongues that curl meanings through walls.
Women who can penetrate any wall without holes.
Women who can breach any peace that betrays us.
Zigzag of curdled energy in a rented meeting house.
Sheets of dark snows approaching over the moors.
Garbled language in bitter-tight coils of our world.
Savage snowstorm in such lamentable mountains.

Film, I tell you, is the most urgent & radical prosaic.

Old woman living life yearlong in a raw baita.
Her slowness vital yeast for our possible future.
Markets of pomegranate & peppers in thick rain.
Futures mercantiled for blubber in great cities.
Cynicisms choked back in bad-summer lattes.
Film, I tell you is the most urgent prosaic
I am a film.

It was siege warfare
They ate the leaves off the trees.
White wolves surrounded the houses.
All the villages & towns about razed.
Severed heads held aloft by masked men.
Absolute worlds of understanding never
Meeting political ethics of raw fratricide.
City of the sun splayed out in red deserts.
Calm boulevards reduced to dirt rubbles.
Little children screaming at their friends.
We who yearn the lyric calm of courage.
We who learn to cynic cornered outrage.
We who charmed the birds down from 
The trees.  I am my own language. 
My language is me.
I am a film.

When I bypassed the city in the desert.
When I bypassed the hatreds in the senate.
When I gabbled at the air in my intestines.
When I garbled what matters in investing.
When I fluked the selfie of some murder.
When I puked the surfeit of my masters.
When I said all of poetry’s cunning labour.
When the city I’d bypassed self-exploded
With the motive for its being unrecorded.
Sun-city that’s exploding in the morning.
Two different worlds of understanding.
White city of the sun !
I am a film.



Stephen WATTS is a poet and translator. He feels poetry as energy and breath, as body and spirit. Recent books of his own include ANCIENT SUNLUGHT (Enitharmon 2014) & REPUBLIC OF DOGS / REPUBLIC OF BIRDS (Test Centre, 2017; Prototype 2020). Prototype plan to publish his Collected Poems starting in 2022. Among recent co-translations are Adnan al-SAYEGH’s PAGES FROM THE DIARY OF AN EXILE (Arc Publications 2016) & Golan HAJI’s A TREE WHOSE NAME I DON’T KNOW (A Midsummer Night's Press 2017). LEMON SUN by Ziba KARBASSI is forthcoming in 2020. His mother’s family are from the Italian Alps (his grandfather was a shepherd: poets are shepherds of words!) & he himself quit university and went to look after sheep on North Uist where he began to write poetry. Since 1977, he has lived mostly in Whitechapel, working as a poet in schools, hospitals & drop-in centres and in situations of shared language & health & well-being. He researches international poetries.

Stanley SCHTINTER “runs with wolves” (Sukhdev Sandhu).



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Partner to a press called Tenement, Hotel is a publications series for new approaches to fiction, non fiction & poetry & features work from established & emerging talent. Hotel provides the space for experimental reflection on literature’s status as art & cultural mediator. 

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