Saturday, 31 August 2013

Today's WW1 Poet: Francisa Stocklin

Francisa Stocklin from Switzerland (1894 - 1931) was one of the German-language poets kindly suggested by Penelope Monkhouse from Germany.

Switzerland was neutral during the First World War but had to patrol her borders with Germany, France and Italy.

Both sides used Switzerland for the purposes of spying and commerce during WW1.

Photo:  Swiss Troops on border duty.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Today's Poet - Elsa Beskow

Elsa Beskow (1874 - 1953) from Sweden.

Although Sweden remained neutral during WW1, there were many people sympathetic to Britain due to the long maritime connections between the two countries.   Prussian dominance of the Baltic region had, however ensured peace in the area.


Thursday, 29 August 2013

Today's Poet is from South Africa

Edith L.M. King (1871 - 1962).  Edith was born in Pietermaritzberg in Natal.

South Africa answered the call during WW1 and troops from South Africa fought alongside British troops.

There were also fronts on the Continent of Africa during WW1.  An excellent book on the subject is "The Forgotten Front  The East African Campaign" by Ross Anderson, published by Tempus Publishing, Stroud, 2004.

I am still looking for women poets who lived during the First World War from

Kenya, Uganda, The Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and Nigeria

as well as the West Indies, Palastine, Luxembourg and Thailand (Siam).

To be included in my project, the poems do not have to be about the War, nor written during that period, but the poets do have to have been old enough to write poetry.   Included in Volume I of "Female Poets of the First World War" are several poems written by schoolgirls in Britain during WW1 and they are extremely good.  For details of the book, please see www.poshupnorth.com

Every day brings a revelation.  Onwards!

My grateful thanks to the Western Front Association for their wonderful website and their kind help.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Today's Poet: Jelena Spiridonovic Savic - Serbia

If you have been following my weblog and know the aims of the Poetry Exhibitions, you will know that I seek only to include as many countries involved in WW1 as possible in order to commemorate with sorrow the sacrifices made for our today.

Today's poet is Jelena Spiridonovic Savic from Serbia (1890 - 1974)


The Austro-Hungarian Empire invaded Serbia in late July 1914.   Serbia's victory at the Battle of Cer in August 1914 was the first victory for the Entente Powers in the First World War.

In all, Serbia lost 1,100,000 people during the War - civilians and military deaths.

For information about Flora Sandes, the English woman who fought for Serbia during WW1, please see www.inspirationalwomenofww1.blogspot.co.uk

The Durham Branch of the Western Front Association are organising a conference - details shown.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Today's Poet - Anna Akhmatova from the Ukraine

Representing Russia, Anna Akhmatova was born in 1889 in Bolshoy Fontan near Odessa, Ukraine and died in 1966 in Leningrad, Soviet Union.

Anna Akmatova was the pen name of Andreyevna Gorenko, who began writing poetry at the age of eleven and went on to become a popular poet.


In 1914, as the Russians mobilised their troops, the Germans invaded neutral countries Luxembourg and Belgium on their way to France,

The Russian army was successful on the Eastern Front against the Austro-Hungarians, but was stopped in its invasion of East Prussia by the Germans. 

When the Tsar's government collapsed in 1917 and Revolution followed, this brought the Russians to discuss terms for ending their war with the Central Powers.

The photo shows one of the Russian Women's Battalions in the First World War.  I am still trying to find the two Russian women poets who were also soldiers.   

For more amazing photographs have a look at the Facebook Pages Centenary News 1914 - 1918 and WW1 Buffs.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Today's Poet: Elena Vacarescu from Romania

Elena was born in Bucharest in 1864 and died in Paris in 1947.

Romanian troops crossed the border with the Austro-Hungarian Empire in August 1916, officially entering the conflict on the side of the Allies - who were known as the "Entente Powers" during WW1.

Romania's argument with the Austro-Hungarian Empire concerned Transylvania, which was mainly Romanian but governed by Hungarians. The Romanian government signed a treaty with the Entente Powers, their objective being Romanian unity. Under the terms of the alliance, all Romanian territories in the Austro-Hungarian Empire would be returned to Romania.

German General Erich von Falkenhayn took control of Germany's fight against Romania. By December 1916, the Germans had taken of the country, including Bucharest. With the collapse of Russia the following year, Romania had no protection. The Romanians were surrounded by the Germans and forced to surrender.  Romania had 335,000 casualties in WW1. They eventually gained control of Transylvania, which was given to them under terms of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles.

Photo: Romanian fusiliers in the field - Wipers: A Soldier's Tale from the Great War Facebook Page - absolutely brilliant!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Today's Poet: Fernanda de Castro - Portugal (1900 - 1994)

Dating back to the days of John O'Gaunt of Lancaster, whose daughter married the King of Portugal, Portugal is Britain's oldest ally.  The alliance introduced tea and marmalade to our islands and I imagine Port as well.

Not many people seem to know that Portugal sent troops, equipment and medics to help us during WW1.

Today's poet - Fernanda de Castro is particularly interesting because of her long life - she will have witnessed a great many changes!   Fernanda was born in Lisbon and published her first volume of poems in 1919.

Pictured left are examples of Portuguese uniforms in the First World War and below are Portuguese Machine Gunners in Africa during WW1.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Today's Poet - Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska (1891 - 1945) - Poland

Before I begin, I would like to thank everyone involved in the Ashes Cricket Matches - especially the people behind the scenes whose hard work never reaches our screens.  It's been amazing - thank you all.

Today's Female Poet of the First World War is Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska who was born in Krakow on 24th November 1891.

During WW1, Poland did not exist as we know it today - parts of the country were Russian, parts Austro-Hungarian and parts Prussian.

Maria was born in the area known then as 'Congress Poland' which was under Russian rule.

In 1915, Maria married an officer in the Austrian Army but the marriage was annulled.   She later married a writer - Jan Pawlikowski.   In the 1930s Maria and her husband went to live in Blackpool.

Maria is one of the poets who will be featured in the forthcoming exhibition at Fleetwood Library from 1st October 2013 until 11th November 2013.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Today's Poet - Mary Ursula Bethell - New Zealand

Mary Ursula Bethell (1874 - 1945) was born in England.  Her parents had spent time in New Zealand before her birth and returned there to live when she was 18 months old.

In spite of their relatively small size and the distance from Britain, New Zealand answered the call and sent more than 100,000 troops and nurses to help the cause.

Maori soldiers also served in the First World War.   Troops from New Zealand fought in Egypt, Gallipoli, Palestine and on the Western Front.

The sacrifices of the Australian and New Zealand Troops in the First World War are remembered on Anzac Day which is 25th April.

The photo (courtesy of the Facebook Group WW1 Buffs) shows a Turkish Sniper captured by Anzac Troops on Gallipoli.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

'Lest we Forget'

My research does not seek to apportion blame or point the finger - I simply find female poets alive at the time, inspirational women and fascinating facts - with the aim of enlightening people and, hopefully, helping with an appreciation of poetry.   If anyone is inspired to write their own poetry - so much the better.

Today's poet is Aiko Yosano from Japan.  Akiko was born in Osaka in 1878 and died in Tokyo in 1942.   She began writing poetry when in her teens and was a great supporter of education for women.

Japan, like Italy, were Britain's ally in the First World War.   Japan had been an ally of Britain since 1902 and declared war on Germany on 23rd August 1914.


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Today's Poet - Ada Negri, Italy

There are so many poets on my list so far and I find more every day, so I decided to feature one every day as far as possible, in the hopes that you will be interested.  Today's poet is

Ada Negri from Italy - 1870 - 1945.

People seem to have forgotten that the First World War was fought on many fronts, one of them being in Italy.  During the course of my research into female WW1 poets, I have spent a lot of time in our local library.  I found this book - "Caporetto and the Isonzo Campaign The Italian Front 1915 - 1918" by John Macdonald with Zeljko Cimpric (Pen and Sword Military Books, Barnsley, Yorkshire, 2011) riveting.  Italy declared war on the Austro-Hungarian Empire on 23rd May 1915 and on Germany on 29th August 1916.  Many British troops were sent to take part in that campaign.  There is now a museum in Caporetto to the memory of the campaign - Caporetto is now called Kobarid.

One of my favourite WW1 poets is Vera Brittain, whose brother was killed at Anzio in the Italian Campaign.   Vera's books are wonderful too - if you haven't yet read any of them I recommend them to you - "Testament of Youth", "Testament of Friendship", "Testament of Experience", "Account Rendered" and of course, her war diary "Chronicle of Youth".

Photo:  Italian troops, June 1915


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Today's Featured Poet

Eva Gore-Booth (1870 - 1926) from Ireland.

Eva and her sister Constance were described as being 'flamboyant' and 'reactionary'.  It sounds as though they were strong, independent women.  They were both passionate supporters of the growing feminist movement at that time and created a publication called "Urania", which discussed questions of gender and sexuality.  They were also actively involved in the political scene in Ireland.  The sisters died within a year of each other.

The Irish poet W.B. Yeats wrote a poem about the sisters entitled "In memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markiewicz".


Monday, 19 August 2013

Today's Female Poet of the First World War is Sarojini NAIDU

Sarojini Naidu was a poet from India (1879 - 1949).

India was emerging as a modern nation when in 1914, they answered the call Britain put out to her Empire.  Military and financial aid was sent to help the cause.

Indian soldiers fought in the First Battle of Ypres on the Western Front and Indian soldiers fought in most of the other theatres of war - Gallipoli, North Africa and East Africa.

According to "The Times" newspaper at the time, "The Indian Empire has overwhelmed the British nation by the completeness and unanimity of its enthusiastic aid."

This photograph of the Indian Cavalry was kindly supplied by the WW1 Buffs Facebook Page.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Revised List of Poets

I am not quite ready to post a revised List of Female Poets of the First World War yet.

If you are interested in the female poets I have found so far, you will need to scroll down to this posting of 8th July 2013:

http://www.femalewarpoets.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/revised-list-of-poets-july-2013.html

And if you know of any I have left out, please get in touch.

Thank you.

Lucy

Today's Poet - Claire Goll (Germany)

Today's Poet is Claire Goll who was born in Nuremberg in 1890 and died in Paris in 1977.

As promised, here are some of the photos from the Exhibition at the Ace Centre in Nelson, Lancashire.

The Exhibition is in the Art Gallery at the Ace Centre, which is on the first floor - there is a lift for those who cannot manage stairs.

If you go by car, parking is free in Nelson but you must have a 'blue parking disk' - these area available free from all shops and also from the Reception Desk at the Ace Centre.

If you travel by train (via Preston - Colne and Nelson is the stop after Brierfield) the Ace Centre is in the centre of town opposite the Library and Town Hall.  You can also see the new War Memorial in Nelson which is outside the Library and is very impressive.

The Ace Centre has a very nice Bistro where you can have a meal from breakfast through to afternoon tea and it is very good indeed.

The Exhibition at the Ace Centre is on until 4th September 2013 and entry is free.  There are explanatory leaflets available to guide you as you look at the panels - which go all the way round the Art Exhibition area.   As this area is normally used for displaying art, we had to put the panels into frames but I think it looks ok - what do you think?

The photos show the entrance to the Exhibition, one of the sections and Kathleen Holyhead and Avril Preston reading some of the panels at the launch on Thursday, 15th August 2013.

I look forward to your feedback!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Today's Poet and Exhibition News

Today's Poet is Adrienne Blanc-Peridier from France (1884 - 1965).

The Exhibition of Female War Poets, Inspirational Women of WW1 and Fascinating Facts of the Great War was officially launched on Thursday, 15th August 2013 at the Ace Centre in Nelson, Lancashire.

The Exhibition will be on until 3rd September 2013 so there's plenty of time to get along to Nelson and have a look and let me know what you think. Here is the write up from last week's  Nelson Leader newspaper.

I would like to say a huge thank you to Carmela of the Ace Centre.  Carmela was in charge of looking after us on setting up day (Wednesday) and she was absolutely fantastic from the outset.  She had also been to the trouble of looking at the blog so she knew exactly what the exhibition was about and seemed to know instinctively exactly what was needed.  We were very impressed indeed and the setting up went like a dream.

Carmela was also on hand early on Thursday morning to help with the finishing touches (of which there are always some, no matter how well you think you have prepared).   Carmela also made some very useful comments and helpful suggestions.   I know who I would like to have as my Right Hand Person!

I would also like to thank everyone who came along to the launch, starting withKathleen Holyhead - it was Kathleen's Grandmother who was our star Inspirational Woman, featuring poems that had inspired her throughout her life.  Kathleen inherited her Grandmother's little notebook of poems.  Kathleen came with several members of her lovely family.

Thank you to Andrew Stephenson, Pendle MP, who came along, read every panel, left a lovely comment in the comments book and also tweeted about the Exhibition.   Thank you so much Andrew.

Thank you to John Barnes, our friend from Manchester who is Chairman of the Old Trafford Branch of the Royal British Legion (seen here with Emma Holbrook the singer/songwriter who has donated her latest album to the RBL). John came and gave out some of the famous RBL poppy lapel pins, spreading the word about the RBL and explaining how vital their role is these days in helping members of our armed forces who need help.   The use of the word 'veteran' can be misleading these days for there are now 'veterans' who are 18 years old.

Thank you to the Kirkup Family who came along to support us - we are hoping to have some entries for the Pendle War Poetry Competition from you!  www.pendlewarpoetry.com

Thank you to Marie Kershaw, the talented Ceramic Artist, who came over from Lytham to support the event.  Marie (seen here discussing some of the panels with Andrew Stephenson) is the one who designed and made our beautiful Ace Award (Admirable Contribution to Entertainment) statuette 'Ophelia" that has been presented to some of the nation's best performers.

And thank you to everyone else who came - I was rather overcome with emotion as I have put so much into this project so forgive me if I have not mentioned you by name.

Finally, thank you to Beverly, Paul, Sean, Nigel, Philip and Carmela at the wonderful Ace Centre in Nelson.  If you have never visited the Ace Centre, please try to get there - it is amazing!

More soon!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Today's Poet: Agnita Feis (Holland) and acknowledgements

Today's poet is Agnita Feis from Holland.  Holland remained neutral during the First World War but mobilised their army because there was a fear that Germany might invade in the south of the country.

I should like to thank Michael Bully from the WFA Forum for his help with the project.  Michael has found two books about WW1 poems that I had not heard of - thank you Michael.

And also Suzanne Raitt, from America, who has been trying to find some of my 'lost sheep'.

Nelson in Lancashire has good road and rail connections.  By rail via Preston and change on to the Colne line - Nelson is the station between Brierfield and Colne.  The Ace Centre is in the town centre opposite the Town Hall and just a short walk from the station.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Today's Poet: Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton (1897 - 1968)

Enid Blyton was best known for her children's stories but she also wrote poetry.  She began writing at the age of twelve when she wrote to entertain her brothers.

She would have been fifteen when the First World War began so I am going to include her in my list until I find out more.

Some of the poems featured in our exhibition were written by schoolchildren during WW1 and in my view they are very good indeed - hence the inclusion of younger poets.



Sunday, 11 August 2013

Today's Poet - Bing Xin from China.

When I started to research Female Poets of the First World War in April 2012 for an exhibition (which is on throughout 2013) at the Wilfred Owen Story museum in Birkenhead, I decided to feature less well known poets.  Most people seem to have heard of Jesse Pope (Jesse is the 'my friend' Wilfred Owen refers to in his poem 'Dulce et Decorum Est') and Vera Brittain and though I love their work, I wanted to give a voice to the others.   Then I discovered that many people didn't realise how many countries were involved or how many other theatres of war there were apart from the Western Front.  And how about Portugal - Portugal are our oldies allies, dating back to the time of John O' Gaunt whose daughter married the King of Portugal and we learnt to love tea and marmalade.   Portuguese soldiers during WW1 were apparently known as "Tonys".

That is why my list of Female Poets of the First World War is so long and why it is growing.  If you know of any poets I have left out please get in touch.   I am still looking for poets from Siam - which is now called Thailand - for they sent troops and medics - and Africa, Greece and so on.

And I still haven't found my two Russian women soldier poets.

Onwards!

Today's poet is Bing Xin from China.   Not many people seem to know about the tremendous work force that China contributed - they worked behind the scenes unloading ammunition and food supplies and water too - did you know that the water table in Belgium and France became contaminated very early on in the War?  Because of that all our troops, medical staff and their helpers (many of whom were women) had to have water from Britain delivered in barrels - just imagine the headache of getting supplies over The Chanel in ships with German submarines waiting for them.  The water then had to be boiled for drinking.

At the end of hostilities, the Chinese workers cleared away the mess.  The Canadian artist Mary Riter Hamilton (who is one of my Inspirational Women in another section of the Exhibitions) went to Flanders to paint the Aftermath in 1919.  She stayed for three years and lived in a little tin hut among the Chinese workers.


Bing Xin from China - 1900 - 1999

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Labour_Corps

Exhibition at:
 The Wilfred Owen Story, 34 Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral, CH41 6AE throughout 2013 and at  
The Ace Centre, Cross Street, Nelson, Lancashire BB9 7NN from 15th August - 3rd September 2013.  
Entry free.

If you'd like to see an exhibition near you let me know and we will see what we can do.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Today's Poet: Gabriela Mistral

Gabriela Mistral from Chile  (1889 - 1957), was the pen name of Lucila Godoy.

Chile was important because of the nitrate mines - nitrates were required in the manufacture of explosives.  Exports to Germany ceased at the beginning of WW1, which forced Germany to seek alternative supplies and resulted in her scientists discovering synthetic nitrates.  By a curious twist, after the War, Germany exported those synthetic nitrates, which, it could be argued contributed to the economic decline of Chile.


The sea Battle of Coronel in November 1914 took place off the coast of Chile and in 1917, Germany's policy of 'unrestricted submarine warfare' affected every sea-faring nation directly and others indirectly (imports, travel, etc.).

Chile reacted in February 1917 by making a formal diplomatic protest, stating that the German measures were unacceptable and that Chile reserved the right to defend her ships should they be attacked by German submarines.

Source:  http://www.firstworldwar.com/source/uboat_chile.htm and various other Internet sites, using Google as the search engine.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Today's Poet

is Jean BLEWETT who was born at Lake Erie, Canada in 1872.   Jean began writing at an early age and published her first novel in 1890.  Her first volume of poets appeared in 1897 and one of her poems won the Chicago Times-Herald Prize.  Jean died in 1934.


Thursday, 8 August 2013

Today's 'Tweet' and 'lost sheep'

Today's poet is Cora Coralina from Brazil - (1889 - 1985).   Brazil declared war on Germany in 1917 -
in case you were wondering!

I have to say thank you to Lawrence Dunn who is compiling an anthology of women poets and artists of WW1.  Lawrence kindly drew my attention to some anomalies in my List of Poets, namely Emily Orr and Muriel Elsie Graham.   I had Emily down under British Poets and Muriel Elsie Graham under American poets with the dates 1909 - 1987.  Unfortunately I have mislaid my source and now realise that would be impossible as Muriel Elsie Graham's collection of poems entitled "Vibrations" was published in 1918 by Erskine Macdonald.

Erskine Macdonald, the publisher, is also worth looking at - apparently Wilfred Owen was warned by Monro of the Poetry Bookshop in London not to try to have any of his poems published by Erskine Macdonald because he had the reputation of taking advantage of young poets hoping to find outlets for their work ...

I shall put Emily Orr and Muriel Elsie Graham under a separate heading until I can find out more.  In the meantime, if anyone has any idea where I could find out more about these two poets, please do get in touch.  Thank you.

Onwards!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Today's Poet - Marie Nizet - acknowledgements and exhibition details

Today's poet is Marie NIZET - Belgium - 1859 - 1922.  As this project seeks to include as many countries as possible, I really needed to find a woman poet from Belgium.   You would not believe how hard that task has been - even with the help of the Internet and modern technology!

If anyone knows of any other female poets of the era from Belgium (other than Alice Nahon who is also on my List of Poets found so far), please get in touch and let me know their name and if possible where I can find out more information.

I should like to thank Michael Bully of the Western Front Association (website and Facebook Group) for his kind offer of help to spread the word about what I am doing. Michael has been very supportive of my project.  

The plan is to hold exhibitions which aim to help people to understand more about the First World War, using the medium of poetry written by women at the time.   The poetry featured is not necessarily about the War but in order to be included in this project, poets do need to have been able to write poetry at that time.   I wondered about Stevie Smith for example but as I began writing poetry when I was eleven years old, I could not exclude schoolgirls and indeed have some fine examples of poems written by schoolgirls during WW1 in the exhibition.

The next exhibition planned is for 15th August - 3rd September 2013 at the Ace Centre in Cross Street, Nelson, Lancashire BB9 7NN.   The Centre is open daily (but not Sundays or Bank Holidays) from 10 am - 4 pm, Mondays - Saturdays.  Entry is free.

If anyone is interested, and for those unable to attend exhibitions, there is a companion booklet, featuring poets and poems, so please get in touch if you would like a copy.   Details are on 
http://www.poshupnorth.com/2013/08/new-title-female-poets-of-first-world.html

As I explained previously, this is not an academic study as such and does not feature any comments about poets or poems - brief biographical details are included, plus a photo and one or two poems depending on length.   I feel there is plenty of scope for anyone leading a study group to get discussions going if required.






Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Today's Poet - Emily Bulcock, Australia

Emily Bulcock, (1877 - 1969) Australian - poet, writer and humanitarian.


French Women Poets of WW1

If you have been following my weblog, you will know that I am constantly seeking out poets.

Thanks to Chris Spreit in Belgium, I began looking for a few more French women poets yesterday and in particular - Adrienne Blanc-Peridier, Henriette Charasson, Cevile Perin and Henriette Sauret.   Oh the joys of the Internet - as I searched, I found mention of a Professor D.G. Mole who had organised a Conference on the subject in America in 2007.

Professor Mole very kindly sent me this reply to my query - for which I am extremely grateful:


"Works by Goldberg, Higgins, and Higonnet and studies by Chevillot/Norris, Khan, and Reilly are all essential reading to help you with the exhibitions, but you can profitably consult too Fell/Sharp, Gilbert/Gubar, Grayzel, O'Brien, and Ouditt".

Apart from Higonnet, whose book "Lines of Fire" is amazing, Khan and Reilley (whose books I read when I first began researching), I had not heard of any of the other writers.

As they say, "il y a du pain sur la planche"!

Onwards!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Facebook and today's poet . . .

Facebook gets a lot of adverse publicity, but there are some very good things about it - for instance with regard to researching WW1 there are some fantastic pages with dedicated, hard working people -

WW1 Buffs, Centenary News 1914 - 1918 and Wipers A Soldiers Tale are just a few.

Then there are the poetry groups - Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, May Sinclair - I have come into contact with some fantastic and very helpful people through those Pages.

Thank you all - as far as I am concerned that is the true spirit of Facebook and the Internet.

I also have to thank Dave of the Stow Maries WW1 Aerodrome for an idea he gave me - I woke up thinking of it this morning, which is, to my mind, a very positive sign.  Thank you Dave.  Find out more about Stow Maries Aerodrome on their website - http://www.stowmaries.com.  They, too, have a fantastic Facebook Page.

Today's poet, by the way, is Rose Auslander (1901 - 1988) - Rose was Austro-Hungarian.


Sunday, 4 August 2013

Twitter ye not

I never thought I would do it but I have begun to tweet! (LucyLondon7).   I was trying to find something on the Internet about a lady called Evadne Price and the only person I could find was to be contacted via Twitter .

Then an idea came to me - I will go down my list of poets and tweet one each day.

For anyone interested in soldier poets, here is a link that has just been forwarded to me

http://archive.org/stream/forremembranceso00adcouoft#page/n9/mode/2up

which looks very good and mentions some poets I had not found previously - many thanks to Paul for that one and for his enduring support.

I am still looking for the two Russian women soldier poets I found mention of in the course of my research.

Today's Female Poet, incidentally, is Zoe Akins (1886 - 1958) an American, Pullitzer Prize-winning poet, playwright and author. For examples of her poetry, please see www.poemhunter.com



Saturday, 3 August 2013

Saddening and humbling - 'the guilty landscape'


I just received this from Chris Spreit who, as I reported in an earlier blog, is hard at work putting the finishing touches to his poetry anthology.  I thought I would share it with you - although, strictly speaking it is not about women who wrote poetry during WW1, there are many such in Chris's book.

This is what he sent:

I have just come across it while checking out a WW1 digital forum which I regularly go on.
The broadcast, in fact, is a follow-up item that has recently been shot as a sequel to an earlier item that dealt with the underground research which the famous British researcher Peter Barton executed in the vicinity of the Somme Hamlet of La Boisselle.
As I am sure you will all know, La Boisselle is in the neighbourhood of all those places where Edmund Blunden, Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, Edward Thomas and Wilfred Owen saw action. La Boisselle is only a couple of kilometres away from Beaumont-Hamel, Mesnil, Pozières, Serre, Auchonvillers and the Lochnagar Crater... It was practically at the rim of those tragical developments of the First Day of July 1916, which annihilated several of the Pals battalions (incl. the boys from Accrington). 
Even if you do not understand the bits in Dutch, I am certain you will pick up the bulk of what the broadcast wants to drive home from the way that Mr Barton comments on his findings and his reflections. 
At one stage Barton explains that, owing to the fact that the underground listening tunnels stretched out into the No Man's Land from both sides, the men were forced to dig the ground with their hands lest they should be heard by the opponent.
The Dutch presenter goes on to describe the placid and peaceful surroundings as 'the guilty landscape', knowing that there was so much relentless fighting there, which left so much death hidden somewhere under French soil. This immediately made me think of the title of Margi's Edmund Blunden poetry volume, 'The Deceitful Calm'.
Isn't this deceitful calm a perfect synonym of that guilty landscape? And aren't the 'skeletons in the cupboard' still, no matter if this is 100 years on or not?

In a recent article on the Ypres Salient, I read that approximately 200,000 dead might still be somewhere, anywhere, below French and Flemish soil. How saddening a thought, isn't it, and how humbling at the same time..."

I agree with Chris's sentiments entirely - "saddening and humbling at the same time..."  Thank you so much Chris.

The Landscape

Mary Riter Hamilton was the Canadian artist who was commissioned by the Canadian War Amputees Association to travel to France and Flanders in early 1919 in order to paint what she saw of the immediate aftermath of the War. 

Mary spent three years there, living in a little tin hut among the Chinese civilian workers who helped clear away the mess.   Her paintings show clearly how that 'guilty landscape' looked once the fighting had ended.   Mother Nature is kind and constantly replenishes what we humans destroy.

Mary Riter Hamilton's paintings are held by the Canadian National Archives and some of them can be viewed at www.collectionscanada.gc.ca

Friday, 2 August 2013

First World War Poets who nursed


My grateful thanks to Penelope Monkhouse in Germany for her hard work in finding German women poets, their poems and biographies.  With regard to German poets who nursed, Penelope has   

"found examples of H. Hardenberg´s poetry composed while working as a nurse. In her first poetry collection "Neigungen", published in 1918, there is a section called "Feinseligkeiten" with a series of poems in which she identifies with the suffering soldiers in her charge by speaking (imaginatively) in their voice.

There are also examples of using the soldier's voice in English women's poetry."

That is an extremely interesting and valuable point, definitely worthy of more research and discussion.
I have found several English and American women poets who nursed during WW1 and am currently looking for those of other nationalities, so Penelope's point is very valid.

I am deeply indebted to Penelope for her continuing support of the project.

Thanks also to Emma from Amsterdam for her help - Emma was the first person to get in touch with me regarding the project and her support is wonderful.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

"Wij werden honderd jaaar ouder (We aged one hundred years)" An anthology of poems put together by Chris Spriet, Belgium

We always had to say "White Rabbits" on the first of the month in our house when I was growing up!

Thank you very much indeed to Chris Spriet from Belgium for letting me have a peek inside his forthcoming book.  I can't wait to read it.

 "Wij werden honderd jaar ouder (We aged one hundred years) will be published by Davidsfonds Leuven in September 2013 -  available at www.davidsfonds.be.


Chris Spriet says:


"Being the grandson of a civilian victim of the Great War I have had a keen interest in War Poetry for many years. For several years I taught seminars devoted to the War Poets, participating in a number of theatrical projects as well as Peace Tours to the Ypres Salient and the Somme. As a member of the Committee of the Friends of the In Flanders Fields Museum (VIFF) I have a set literature feature in VIFFflash, the magazine of our organisation. As a member of the War Poets Association, the Wilfed Owen Association, the Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship and the Ivor Gurney Society, on several occasions I contributed articles to periodicals at home and abroad.

Here is the list of female poets whose work is included in my book as well as a survey of biographies:
Nancy CUNARD (US., Zeppelins)
Anna AKHMATOVA (Russ., In memoriam, July 1914)
Elinor JENKINS (The Last Evening)
Vera BRITTAIN (St Pancras Station, August 1915)
Jane CATULLE-MENDES (Fr., Qui? / Who?)
Helen MACKAY (Train)
Jessie POPE (War girls)
Edna ST VINCENT MILLAY (US, Conscientious Objector)
Elizabeth DARYUSH (US, Flanders Fields)
Theresa HOOLEY (War film)
Vera BRITTAIN (To my brother)
Eva DOBELL (Night Duty), one of my favourite poems
Andrea FRAHM (Germ., Zu Hause / At home)
Eleonora KALKOWSKA (Pol./Germ., Man tat uns dieses an / Dit deden zij ons maan / They did that to us)
Jeanne PERDRIEL-VAISSIERE (Fr., Complainte des filles qui ne seront pas mariées, Klaagzang van de meisjes die niet getrouwd zullen zijn/ Complaint of the girls who will never be married)
Margaret POSTGATE COLE (Falling leaves)
Vera BRITTAIN (Perhaps)
Henriette SAURET (Fr., Elles / They)
This poem stands out because it has survived history and anthologies in its maimed version. AS the poem was found to be too controversial to be acceptable to the (French) national censor, several lines and stanzas were scrapped, whilst the remainder of the poem was granted the right of publication. The poem has survived the Great War much in the same sense in which a handicapped or gassed war survivor did, ie, with the inclusion of the handicap or physical loss as a characteristic of the survival itself. Sauret's poem is very much a 'traumatized text'. On serveral occasions in the text it says '8 règles censurés, 8 lines censored,...) 
Sara TEASDALE, (US., 'And soft rains will come')
 It might strike you that, of many of these women poets' lives, only some sparse details have survived. Owing to her love relationship with the war poet Roland Leighton (1895-1915), Vera Brittain stands out. Immediately after Roland's untimely death, Vera broke off her academic prospects to go and serve as a VAD nurse in France. She wrote intense and compassionate poetry. After the War she continued to live a life of intense involvement in the causes of feminism, political justice and pacifism. She was the mother of Shirely Williams, who has been, for some time, chair of the British Liberal Democrats.

Edna ST VINCENT MILLAY was a well-known American poet who was greatly admired by a host of male suitors.

Helen Mackay was an intellectual woman of high class. Her poem "Train" depicts the wel-known iconographic scene of a Railway station, where the leaving of a soldiers for the front takes place.
I have also written several articles for the Edmund Blunden website www.edmundblunden.org and regularly review war-related books on Amazon.   I own a collection of over 2,000 books to do with the history, the cultural and literary heritage of the Great War."

Thank you very much indeed Mr Spriet.   Some of the poets you mention are already on my list but there are some new to me so I must get on and research them.

I look forward very much to reading your book.