top of page


Folded Whispers

average rating is 4 out of 5


Patrick Foley


Posted on:

Dec 20, 2022

Film Reviews
Folded Whispers
Directed by:
Jordon Rooney, Shane MacFarland
Written by:
Mark Anthony Thomas
Mark Anthony Thomas

The raw, emotional and contemplative poetry of Mark Anthony Thomas is featured in Folded Whispers, a short documentary film which features Thomas’ first live performances of his poems in 15 years in a stripped back setting, whilst also featuring Thomas’ analysis of his many years’ worth of work.


The film features clips of Thomas’ performances of his poems from a live night at the Kelly Strayhorn Theatre in Pittsburgh, interspersed with a backstage interview with Thomas explaining the meanings of his work and reflecting on where they emerged from his own life. An eager and mesmerised audience watches on as poems tackling relationships, race, joy, trauma and much more are brought to life by their writer’s demonstration.


Folded Whispers is but a snapshot of a poignant and transformative night of poetry which movingly captures the essence of Mark Anthony Thomas’ work and provides a glimpse of what appears to be an unforgettable live experience, but viewers will come away from the work wishing that glimpse could have been an extended stay in Thomas’ magnetic presence. The clips the film features are emotional and thought-provoking, but the audience will not always feel satisfied that they received the full context or experience from the limited footage we see. Similarly, Thomas’ breakdowns of his work are fascinating, and seeing these before and after he takes to stage is a joy – but one that does not always last as long as viewers would like and one that is not afforded to each performance. It may be the point perhaps not to give the entire experience away, but the film itself is worse off for it.


The footage we do see however is remarkable, and a testament to both Thomas as a performer and poet, and the documentary and production teams who had the wherewithal to allow the emotion the words carry to take centre stage. Thomas’ position at the podium is unchanging throughout the film, and yet clever edits give a sense of motion – along with canny use of a backing soundtrack that amplifies and compliments Thomas’ words rather than upstaging them. In some of the more heartfelt moments, such sound and editing is withdrawn to allow the emotion speak even louder – and let audiences fully embrace their empathy for the speaker. Sometimes the simplest activities are the hardest to do justice on screen, but the grandeur of a truly great poetry session comes through from this film.


If the worst thing you can say about a film is that there’s too little of it, that’s a pretty good sign. It’s a shame that Folded Whsipers was unable to find more space for what are surely special moments of poetry – but the result is 25 minutes of a touching poetry night that will make many more fans of its star Mark Anthony Thomas.

Watch the official trailer for Folder Whispers here.

About the Film Critic
Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley
Theatrical Release, Digital / DVD Release, Short Film, Indie Feature Film, Documentary, LGBTQ+
bottom of page