Nowhere To Go But On – Janet Lees – Isle of Man

The poem at the heart of this poetry film is a cento. I made it by choosing lines from poems by Christian Wiman, Anne Sexton, Tracy K Smith, Heid E Edrich, and Wendell Berry, then weaving them together to create the new poem. The musician and composer Tromlhie created the hauntingly beautiful score. This film poem reflects the background hum of despair (in the background for me as someone living in Britain; others are not so fortunate) at living in a time when humanity is having a catastrophic impact on the climate and ecosystems that support life. It was created during the pandemic, in 2020, which added another layer to the sense of having ‘nowhere to go but on’.


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. 


Tromlhie is bassist and composer Martyn Cain, who has been a performer and songwriter since 2001. As Tromlhie, he has been writing ambient compositions since 2016. With influences including minimalism, drone and electronica, the dark, textured atmospheres in his music reflect the celtic landscape of the Isle of Man where he is based. ‘Tromlhie’ is Manx Gaelic for ‘nightmares’.

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