Descent – Janet Lees – Isle of Man

Apart from the occasional linking word, I made this poem entirely from perfume brand names. The title ‘Descent’ is an anagram of ‘scented’. The poem was triggered by a quote from Coco Chanel: ‘A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future’. These words provoked rage and despair in me; are we, as women, really to be defined by the perfume we wear (or don’t)? With the poem I set out to chart our collective fall from being natural, instinctive creatures to being barely functional cogs in the machine of consumerism. I wanted a kind of magical realism in the visuals, which I created by manipulating and animating my own photographs. The momentous music is by Scott Buckley.

Janet Lees is an artist, poet and poetry filmmaker. Her film-based works have been selected for many festivals and screenings, including the Zebra Poetry Film Festival, the International Videopoetry Festival and the Aesthetica Art Prize. Her art photography has been exhibited around the world, and she represented the Isle of Man at the Festival Interceltique in France, with an exhibition comprising art photography, film and poetry. Janet’s poetry is widely published and anthologised. She has had two books published: ‘House of water’, a collection of her poems and art photographs, and ‘A bag of sky’, the winning collection in the Frosted Fire Firsts prize hosted by the UK’s Cheltenham Poetry Festival.

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