I’m not interested in film or making movies. It is not an intention or an ambition for me. I’m interested in being a poet.

When my father threw this scrapbook away it looked like anything else that belonged in the garbage but it looked too old, too dirty, too long-kept to belong there. I never intended to write a book of poems based on this scrapbook. I don’t like feelings and I don’t think I should burden anyone with mine. All I had for this scrapbook was feelings. I felt too much for it and it meant too much to me to be anything else but for me. I grew up without knowing where I was from or where I belong. My parents weren’t interested in telling their story, in explaining what they were doing here, and how they ended up here. Those questions belonged in boxes on paper forms. But it was school that made me come home and ask where I was from, what am I doing here, why don’t I have a birth certificate. I wasn’t interested in the story. Just that there was one. And I wanted to leave it at that. When I sat down to write Found I knew it would be about poetry. It was my intention, my ambition to write poetry and to think about poetry. I’m interested in looking, in space, in silence, in material. I’m interested in things people don’t look at but are there. My father is here and no one’s looking. When I finished writing Found, I saw that it wasn’t about my father but about my looking, the bits and pieces of that looking. It’s about what I want from poetry and life itself. How poetry has the capacity to do so much with so little, but more than that, how a life can go far and wide and deep even when given so little to carry it. And, I think that’s when it stops being about my father or about me but about all of us.

When Paramita Nath talked to me about turning Found into a film, I thought deeply about my own decision not to include photographs of the actual scrapbook pages in my book. I wanted to control what a reader was looking at, where they were looking and in what sequence, and how they were looking. I knew the actual scrapbook pages would be redundant to the marks, the dots described in the poems. What few words I achieved on the page that took me a year to write was achieved in a single glance on film or a few notes in music. I think Found works as a film because the poems themselves tightly crafted and directed the looking the way film already works. Most of all, I wanted to work with Paramita Nath because she came to Found as a reader first. She understood Found for its literary ambitions and the mechanics behind the writing. And she kept it that way.

"This small evocative film makes the viewer want to discover more of the poetry..." James McNally, Toronto Screen Shots


The Poetry of Souvankham Thammavongsa

A Film by Paramita Nath