Digital: The Surrogate Poets

By Jo Phillips

The Surrogate Poet
Episode 3- Brad Moore, Baton Rogue, Louisiana.

Digital forums offer poets an entirely new vessel, a vessel that is inclusive rather than exclusive. The readings, along with the addition of music and contextual footage are designed to appeal to an audience who would not otherwise approach poetic content.

I had travelled to America to produce a series of films based around my poetry. I wanted to make my poetry relatable. I wanted to utilise contemporary media in a way that would transcend the boundaries of the form. I wanted the sources to be both enigmatic and intimate. I called the project The Surrogate Poets; surrogacy being the most intimate of exchanges. It is the surrender of one’s belonging to another, who returns it with an ineffaceable trace of their self upon it. These films form short, poignant records of these exchanges. It is my hope that their brevity encourages viewers to share and view them on social media.

It was by the Mississippi River, having suddenly woken from a shallow sleep, that I met Brad Moore. I had travelled to Baton Rogue on a whim only to find the town quite dead on a thickly humid Sunday in late spring. He was walking along the footpath that wound above the cascade of steps, which I was sleeping on, carrying his sleeping pack on one shoulder. I called out to him and he came to sit with me.

Brad agreed to read a poem. It was a simple poem; one I had composed while we sat speaking called The Blood is in the Hand. It was my skin-deep attempt to vocalize the pain of vagrancy. It was not until two days later in New Orleans that I was able to watch what now constitutes the third installment in the series. To this day I feel a quite inexplicable ache when I watch Brad’s recital. It is not an ache that belongs to me, or the words I wrote so hurriedly as we sat on the banks of the river. It is the trace of pain that Brad left on the words, the trace of a pain that I could never have portrayed without him, that belongs to a very fleeting moment.


The Surrogate Poets is a ten-part video series written and directed by Sam Frankl currently being published in weekly installments by Black & BLUE until 13th March. Part 5 of The Surrogate Poets, set in Austin, Texas, will be added to the series on Thursday February 6th.

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