21 March 2021
Launching today, World Poetry Day 2021, inVERSE is a collection of five of the world’s oldest surviving poems re-imagined for the 21st century by award-winning film maker Jack Jewers.
Each film takes an ancient poem and uses it as a prism through which to explore the world today. The poems range from 1st century Italy to 1500 BCE Mesopotamia. The short films explore time and the human condition – combining the language of the ancients with modern film making techniques. They’re a reminder that in these troubled times, poetry still has the ability to sooth and inspire.
Based on the poem The Flower Song Anon. Egypt, c.1400 BCE. (Abridged)
Jack Jewers says: A timeless declaration of love and desire, this poem feels as fresh today as it did when it was written – a long, long time ago. The imagery is strikingly sensual; how the narrator describes the sound of their true love’s voice as being like the taste of sweet wine; or wishing they were her very her clothes, so that they could forever be close to her body. It’s quite beautiful.
Based on the poem He Waters His Horse By A Breach in the Long Wall Anon. China, c.120 BCE
Jack Jewers says: The first time I read this anonymous poem – dating from the Han Dynasty in China, sometime around 120BCE – I was blown away by its age. How can a poem this rich and vivid be so old? The idea for this whole series of films grew from there. The poem conveys such poignant feelings of separation and loss that it seemed to be perfectly suited to a tale of refugees, far from home.
Based on the poem My Heart Flutters Hastily Anon. Mesopotamia, c.1500 BCE
Jack Jewers says: Originating from ancient Mesopotamia, “My Heart Flutters Hastily” is a delightful reminder that those giddy, dizzy feelings you can get when you really like somebody are nothing new. Whether it’s in a world of dating apps and socially-distanced love, or from a time that feels unimaginably distant, people have been falling in love the same way forever.
Based on the poem Take Care With How You Look from Ars Amarosa by Ovid. Italy, 1st Century CE. (Abridged)
Jack Jewers says: The Romans knew how to have a good time. The Look is an abridged version of ‘Take Care With How You Look,’ a chapter from Ars Amarosa (“The Art of Love”), by the poet Ovid. Its themes of rejecting false nostalgia about the past, and embracing the richness of the modern age, sounded to me like a celebration of inclusivity and tolerance. Of course, Ovid was writing about a very different age to our own, but the message holds as true today as it always has been. And what more fabulous harbingers this message than Drag Queens United?
Based on the poem Salutation to the Dawn by Kālidāsa (attributed) - India, c.400 CE
Jack Jewers says: Considered the greatest poet of ancient India, Kālidāsa is a founding figure of world literature. And yet, a lot of mystery surrounds Kālidāsa. Some scholars even question whether he was a real person, suggesting instead that his work a kind of collected greatest hits of the ancient Sanskrit world. And perhaps it's appropriate that such an inspiring poem was written by a semi-mythical figure. It sounds to me like a rallying cry for a better tomorrow. And who better to get that across than young street protestors?