Smart, gorgeous, a pleasure for the eye and earFred Barney Taylor
My Name Is Swan premiered at the Curzan, Aldgate as part of the East End Film Festival in London and received its international premiere at the Bowery Poetry Club, New York. Returning to the UK it featured at the Turner Contemporary as part of the Margate NOW Festival.
After launching at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival poet Jan Noble, accompanied by filmmaker Adam Carr, took his poetic monologue My Name Is Swan along the far reaches of the Thames from Oxford to Wapping reading in every ‘swan’ pub along the way. The resulting film, part ‘Night of The Hunter’ part ‘Robinson in Space’, is a meditation on the marginalised taking us down the narrow-ways and river tributaries where litter glitters like supernovae.
An unforgettable experienceJohn Schaefer, WNYC
The poem has been broadcast on BBC radio and the text set on the University of Milan’s syllabus with readings and screenings in Paris, Milan, Venice and Rome including performances at the Teatro Filodrammatici and Poetry on the Lake with former UK poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy. Developed as a dynamic, twenty minute piece of stand up theatre, ‘My Name Is Swan’ previewed at the Riverside Studios in 2021.
In the blackness of a packed cinema in a regenerated Whitechapel the East End Film Festival debut screening of ‘My Name Is Swan’ put a rent in the fabric of the “improved” city to give a glimpse of loss and displacement. In the hushed auditorium an audience that had seemed out of place on the water feature washed street are now at ease. These are night people. Nocturnal urbanites. Musicians and artists on the edges of accepted taste.Johnny Dark
The West End glittered and the City was wealth but Whitechapel hid its stories in shadows. Once on the outer margins it was the edgelands where its myths skulked in dark doorways and alleys, its inhabitants were the city’s voiceless, mute, unable to comment on what they saw around them. In the refurbished East End these traces are being erased and replaced with plazas and towers of stainless steel and self-cleaning glass. The dark places are being displaced and pushed out to new edgelands.
In the blackness of a packed cinema in a regenerated Whitechapel the East End Film Festival debut screening of My Name is Swan put a rent in the fabric of the “improved” city to give a glimpse of loss and displacement. In the hushed auditorium an audience that had seemed out of place on the water feature washed street are now at ease. These are night people. Nocturnal urbanites. Musicians and artists on the edges of accepted taste.
“My Name Is Swan,” declares Jan Noble, “Where I know I’m not wanted, this is where I belong.” His epic tale tells of the edges, the periphery of the city and those on its margins. Adam Carr’s accompanying film, part Night of The Hunter part Robinson in Space takes us along the narrow-ways and rivers starfull and bible-black, litter glittering like supernovae. The film is a contemplative meditation on the marginalised. “There are corners of this water known only to itself.” In the still black waters of My Names Is Swan the audience watches its reflection. “My Name is Swan,” reaffirms Jan Noble to close his epic.
From the cinema darkness, we step blinking into streets without a trace of the night and follow the old street pattern to Aldgate’s The White Swan. “My Name is Swan,” states Noble to silence the crowded pub. We listen to him deliver his epic in its natural habitat. The pub staff mute the wide screen television that flickers above him. “One of many ready to fly out to the sound of breaking glass, to the sound of sirens wailing, to the boom of a white wing beating” he implores as a 24-hour news channel shows silent fast cut images of Teresa May, Parliament, Grenfell Tower and its tearful displaced speechless above him. “One of many ready to fly out to the sound of breaking glass.” The news channel a cacophonous colourful anti-image to Carr’s black and white serenity. “You will never know the secrets of Swan,” whispers Noble.
In the dusk of the summer evening, the traces of old Whitechapel re-emerge in the shadows and the litter in the canals glitters in the darkening light. Still waters run deep.
Poetry of force and impactLa Stampa (Italy)