Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Ada Maria ELFLEIN (1880 - 1919) - Argentina

With thanks to Stanley Kaye who is very supportive of my project, I have found another country to add to the list.  In order to demonstrate the global impact of the First World War, I am trying to find as many poets from as many countries of the world as possible.  To do this, some of the poems I feature do not relate directly to the conflict.

 Today found Ada Maria Elflein who was from The Argentine.  Ada was a translator, writer, feminist and poet.  I will try to find out more about her and some examples of her poetry.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Maud Anna Bell

Some time ago I received an e-mail asking me if I had any information on Maud Anna Bell who is on my list of Female Poets of the First World War.  Unfortunately, I had very little though I am always happy to share what I have.

On Saturday, I received a lovely e-mail with quite a lot of information that Dr. Edlin-White sent me.

As Dr Edlin-White is producing a pamphlet on Maud Anna Bell, I will not say too much here but just give you an extract from her e-mail which concerns the poem entitled "Crocuses at Nottingham" attributed to Maud Anna Bell in Nosheen Khan's "Women's Poetry of the First World War" (pp 58 - 60).   Nosheen Khan mentions that Maud Anna Bell "worked for various war charities" during WW1 (. 182), one of which it seems was the Serbian Relief Fund. It also appears that Maud Anna may have been a friend of the Dearmer family as they lived in the same part of London.  Having looked up the Dearmer family (Geoffrey and Christopher were both poets and both soldiers during WW1), I have added Mabel Dearmer to my list of Inspirational Women of WW1 (www.inspirationalwomenofww1.blogspot.co.uk).

Here is an extract from Dr. Edlin-White's e-mail to me:

"I have been unable to find any link between Maud Bell and Nottingham, but the crocuses in the Meadows in Nottingham were well-known in the same way as the lilacs at Kew and used by a number of poets so she may simply have seized on an evocative image to contrast with the horror and barrenness of the trenches.

Dr R. Edlin-White 26.4.14"

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Seeking information about the poet Greta Briggs

In "Other Men's Flowers", an anthology of poems selected by Lord Wavell, a poem entitled "London under Bombardment" by Greta Briggs is included. Does anyone know anything about Greta Briggs please?

I imagine the poem was probably written about the London Blitz in WW2 but the words could equally refer to the aerial bombardments of London during WW1.  

Les Highton very kindly replied as follows:

'The Western Morning News and Daily Gazette 14/8/1939: “Miss Greta Briggs has a vigorous and invigorating poem on wireless in the home,"voices of the void".  This goes on to mention Celandine Publishing Company, "The Poet" Summer Number Vol. 111; No. 6 May-June 1939. '

Les is very kindly looking into this further - thank you very much Les.

I found a couple of mentions of a Greta Briggs on the Free BMD website and I wondered which of them is the Greta Briggs whose poem is included in Wavell's anthology?

If I manage to find out, I will let you know.

Female Poets the world over

As you are probably aware, I am trying to find women poets from as many countries of the world as possible, in order to demonstrate the global impact of the First World war.  To this end, I contacted a group called the Kapululangu Aboriginal Women's Association and they replied to my message with the following"

"Hi Lucy, Your project sounds very interesting but unfortunately it is not appropriate for our Elders to participate in.  We wish you all the best."

I am very grateful indeed to have received a reply because so many of my letters, e-mails and messages do not.  And the lesson here is a very important one - how vital it is to understand and respect each other's differences - something that is quite rare in modern times alas.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Three more poets for The List...

With grateful thanks to Michael "Bully" - Michael has been very supportive of this project from the outset and suggests anthologies and websites very regularly.  Thank you so much Michael - I have now added Mary P. Richardson to the list and will research her and find some of her poems for an exhibition panel.

And thank you to Evangeline of the Edwardian Promenade website - Evangeline reminded me that I still have a great many American (and Canadian) women poets to research and add to The List as well as writing up exhibition panels and finding poems - by telling me about two American women poets - sisters - Ada and Ethel Peters.

Thank you - I have up-dated the list and hope to bring more information about these poets shortly.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

"Other Men's Flowers" An anthology of Poems selected by Lord Wavell

Michael "Bully" of the Great War Forum website is very supportive of my project.   I have to say thank you to Michael for telling me about "Other Men's Flowers" which is an anthology of poems selected and annotated by Field-Marshal Lord Wavel (1883 - 1950), a professional soldier who was wounded at Ypres, where he lost the sight of an eye.

The anthology was published by Pimlico, London in 1944, republished in 1952 and 1992 and it is delightful - if, like me, you enjoy reading poetry anthologies as much as other forms of literature.

Several poems written by women have been included and I will be doing some more research so as to bring you more information but I can tell you now that one of the poems - "The English War" - is by Dorothy L. Sayers, one of the poets on my list.  Dorothy is perhaps better know for her novels featuring the detective Lord Peter Wimsey.

Thank you Michael.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Did Wilfred Owen meet Rosaleen Graves during WW1?

In the book "A Naturalist goes to War" by Philip Gosse, MD, a General Practitioner from the New Forest who joined the Royal Army Medical Corps for the duration of WW1, Gosse explains that he was the official British Army Ratcatcher for a while on the Western Front.  On page 64, Gosse quotes from a letter written by Siegfried Sassoon, who was a friend of the Gosse family, to Gosse's Mother, in which Sassoon says:

"There is a young poet in the Battn., 19 years old and a temporary Captain - Robert Graves, son of Alfred Perceval Graves (rather a bad poet isn't he?).  R.G. writes moderately well, and is a great admirer of Samuel Butler (“Erewhon” author), and shocks his venerable sire with violent Trench lyrics about lice and corruption.  His Father retaliates with impassioned hymns in "The Observer"."

It seems that Sassoon met Rosaleen Graves, Robert's sister and one of the Female Poets featured in my project, in No. 54 General Hospital in Wimereux, France where she served from 23rd November 1917 until March 1919.   Sassoon was apparently treated at No 54 General Hospital before being sent home to England when he was wounded in July 1918, as he wrote a poem about it.  

Sassoon introduced Wilfred to Robert Graves on 13th October 1917 - presumably in London?   And Wilfred Owen attended the wedding of Robert Graves to Nancy Nicholson at St. James's church in Piccadilly on 23rd January 1918 (though Sassoon did not go as he'd been posted back to France at Christmas 1917).  It was then that Wilfred Owen met Charles Scott Moncrieff.  What I want to know (and will try to find out) is did Rosaleen Graves get leave to attend her brother’s wedding and meet Wilfred Owen?

Reclaiming poetry for the WW1 Centennial - a special event on 15th May 2014 at St. Giles-in-the-Fields, London WC2H 8LD

I just received this and thought some of you might like to attend :

Poetry is central to how many people regard the first world war.  So No Glory has arranged a special night of poetry to commemorate Conscientious Objectors’ Day on 15th May. Do join us.

You’ll enjoy a fine array of speakers. These include AL Kennedy, Blake Morrison, Michael Rosen, George Szirtes and Samuel West.
They’ll read from both their own work and that of the war poets –  and we’ll also talk a bit about the No Glory campaign. The evening should be both moving and entertaining.
Given the recent attacks on the war poets by the government-backed revisionist historians, it's important to reclaim their centrality to our memory of the first world war.

We’re calling the event …cold stars lighting… taken from Wilfred Owen’s poem (I Saw His Round Mouth’s Crimson)
And in his eyes
The cold stars lighting, very old and bleak,
In different skies.
There’ll be music, too, from Matthew Crampton and Nette Robinson & the Lyric Ensemble.
If you're near London, why not join us? And do spread the word - by sharing the link or by inviting friends on Facebook. This will be a wonderful evening.
Best wishes
Jan Woolf
Cultural Co-ordinator, No Glory
Tickets are £10 and £8 (concessions) and include a glass of wine at the interval. 
…cold stars lighting… First World War Poetry
Thursday 15th May, 7.30pm
St Giles-in-the Fields,
60 St Giles High St
London WC2H 8LG
Tickets £10 (£8) including a glass of wine. 

No Glory websiteFacebook Event Page

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Seeking information about Roma White

A friend has asked me to help in finding out more about Roma White, who wrote a poem about the Battle of Jutland.

Can anyone help please?

Saturday, 5 April 2014

WW1 Commemorative Exhibition, Salford Museum and Art Gallery until June 2015

We supplied some panels to the Museum and Art Gallery in Salford but I haven't had a chance to visit it yet - though I hope to go soon and will write a review.  In the meantime, here is their flyer:

Salford Museum and Art Gallery
Peel Park

Violet Spender - one of her poems

With very grateful thanks to Violet’s Great-Niece Annette Shelford, who wrote to “The Times” to tell us about Violet Spender, and who replied to my letter with a great deal of information, I am now able to bring you a sample of Violet’s poetry, a photograph and a little more about her.

This is one of the most fantastic aspects of my project - being able to bring you news of lesser known poets.   My thanks to Annette and to "The Times":

Violet Spender (1890 - 1921) 

To John
(who died in France, March 1918.  With a bunch of primroses picked by the children.)

“Heaviness endureth for a night:  but joy cometh in the morning.”

Bright are our English fields with flowers and corn,
While other lands are seared by fear and torn,
And in the lanes our English children play,
Our laughing children, all too young as yet
To know French fields with English blood are wet,
The price which you, and our heroes had to pay
To keep the fierce and ruthless foe at bay.

My happy children, whom you died to save,
Have plucked these primrose blossoms for your grave:
God made them, when they grow to man’s estate,
Be worthy of a sacrifice as great
As you have made – not only you, but she
Who, for these children’s sakes, will never see
Her little babies dandled on your knee.

After her death, Violet’s husband Harold Spender wrote of her:

‘The writer of these verses was snatched from us just as she seemed on the threshold of a fuller, happier life:  and we are still sitting in the shadow of that eclipse.  We cannot penetrate the mystery that shrouds the passing of one so young and so loved.  We can only bow the head.  She wrote poetry because she could not help it.  She was breathed upon by the divine wind from Parnassus.  There were times when she seemed driven before it as by a tempest.  Then she would not rest until the haunting idea had taken shape and form.  But these burst were followed by great fatigues, and she was rarely capable of prolonged and continuous poetic effort.   The sheets of paper would like around her, and we, who treasured her work, would often have to collect and preserve them after she had herself forgotten them.  For she thought little of her work:  it always fell short of her ideal.   The Great War filled her mind with deep perplexities:  she looked out on its waste and desolation with agonising pity for all men:  and she often sought relief in poetry.   What she thought and dreamed and hoped in her brief and crowded life will best be shown.  For Poetry was her language.  Poetry was her life.’
Photograph of Violet kindly supplied by Annette Shelford.