A Silent War

By Ross Thompson

A Silent War began as a series of poems written during the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. What poet, Ross Thompson has created is a new kind of war poetry, encountering the existential threat posed by the virus as previous generations would have responded to military conflicts. 

Ross Thompson invited other poets and writers to collaborate with him by making recordings of this suite of poems, reaching out at a time when Coronavirus, and the rules which were created to contain it, were creating a profound sense of disconnection for many people. Writers recorded poems in their own home and these recordings were shared online to raise funds for Cruse Bereavement Care.

Continuing with the poet’s spirit of generosity and collaboration, Digital Film Archive has invited a range of creative practitioners to respond creatively to these works, using archive footage and additional layers of sound and visual imagery. At every stage, the text of the poems forms the core of the work.

Footage from the Digital Film Archive allows the filmmakers to show ways in which the pandemic disrupted social norms, exploring the initial panic and paranoia, and subsequently, the strange, dreamlike isolation that ensued as the population became dislocated by new patterns of behaviour. Within the collection, there is a recurring sense of hope, as for some, the pandemic prompted an appreciation of the small things, and of what the world was like before this seismic occurrence, marking a shift towards new perspectives on life and how to live it.

This collection shares the poems that were filmed during the second year of the pandemic. We continue to collaborate with Ross and other creatives to complete the series.

Writers who were invited to read the works:

Pat Boran, Glen Wilson, Amy Louise Wyatt, Ray Givans, David Braziel, Nessa O’Mahony, Linda McKenna, Enda Wyley, Cathy Carson, Keith Payne, Tory Campbell, Colin Dardis, Gaynor Kane, Matthew Rice, Mel McMahon

Ross’s daughter, Anna Thompson, reads the final piece.

Digital Film Archive is grateful to the Department for Communities, whose funding has allowed us to support the work of a range of creative practitioners at a precarious time for the art-world in Northern Ireland. To date, the project has invited creative responses from practitioners including:

Belfast Electronic Arts and Music Academy: BEAMA Artist (Sound) Brién, BEAMA Artist (Filmmaker) Ross McClean; Artist and Editor Laura O’Connor; Artist, Filmmaker and Musician Susan Hughes; Sound Designer and Composer Georgios Varoutsos; Musician, Malojian; Musician, Jason Lytle, formerly known as Grandaddy; Hive Choir -an experimental vocal ensemble.

Content Warning: This collection is about the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. If you need to talk to someone call call Lifeline (Northern Ireland) free of charge on 0808 808 8000. Deaf and hard of hearing Textphone users: 18001 0808 808 8000. Cruse offers bereavement support https://www.cruse.org.uk/get-support/

Project Media

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