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Magazine — 16.04.21

Literature In Leaves: Where Poetry And Nature Converge Through Film

Interview GRACE KING

A short, slow film series on reading poetry in nature. Exploring sentiments of time, change and reflections on the surrounding landscapes. Where poetry and nature converge, words forge a deeper connection to the surroundings. Literature in leaves heightens the meaning and metaphor found in poems, extending its reach to physical elements of the landscape and the things it encapsulates. A moving, expressive and distinctive film series. The series Literature in Leaves is on Instagram (IGTV), in several parts, with readings by both Isabelle Batley and a few guests.

Watch series on IGTV ︎︎︎

Hi Izzy! Thank you so much for speaking to us. I have a few questions about your work, but first, could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your work?

Hey, thanks for having me. I am currently studying Film & Digital Art at UCA, with an interest in experimental film and installation, as well as photography and zines.

Your short film series Literature in Leaves began at the start of lockdown. How has nature informed your work during this time?

I live in a small town, and a highlight of my routine in lockdown was having time to go for long walks in the local park, which is a nature reserve. This connection to nature was so necessary for my mental health and inspired the series.

What is it about slow film that excites you?

I find slow film very calming, an opportunity to slow down and become more aware of yourself, and enter this on-screen environment in a more conscious way. I hope these videos can be a little pause for breath in the oversaturated social media environment.

Stills From Literature In Leaves: Part 3. Reading 'Lockdown' By Simon Armitage, Surrounded By Ferns Symbolising Eternal Life.

I love the combination of poetry and the soundscape of the forest. How did you go about choosing the poems that were read?

The first few readings were just selections of the literature I was reading at the time, surrounding my interest in nature. For instance, Thoreau’s classic ‘Walden’, using natural metaphors which happened to link to the experience time, which shifted a lot during lockdown. For subsequent episodes, I requested that the guests read their own choice of poetry – Emily Bristow wrote the poem ‘Mother’ specifically for her performance in the series!

The poem Mother was shot amongst discarded debris on the forest floor. How is the relationship between decay and renewal something that is explored in your work?

Hmmm… I haven’t really considered this before. I guess I often look towards nature with this very romanticised, city girl finds herself in the countryside sort of way, and yet when we arrived at the woods to film ‘Mother’ there were discarded cans everywhere. My initial instinct was to find a spot where you couldn’t see all the garbage, but I became interested in filming it as part of the environment… which then instantly says something about our impact on nature – which ties in to the subject matter of the poem.

Do you see yourself more as a city or countryside sort of person?

I grew up in London and am so thankful for it, I love the energy and culture of the city, and it’s where I imagine living in the future. But I do have daydreams of living in the countryside and growing vegetables.

What is your favourite poem at the moment and why?

I love picking up poetry books in charity shops, and am still quite captured by one poem I found in a book of Scottish poets: ‘After’ by Norman MacCaig – go read it!

Stills From Literature In Leaves: Part 4. Reading 'Mother', Surrounded By Ivy, Brambles And Rubbish, Signifying Our Impacts On Nature.


Isabelle Batley is a film and digital art student, with interests across photography, experimental film and installation.



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