Saturday, 31 May 2014

Nechama Pochachevski from Brest - now in Belarus

Stanley Kaye recently sent me an e-mail with information about another Female Poet of the First World War I had not heard of - Nechama Pochaveski.  Thank you Stanley.

I haven't been able to find out when Nechama was born or when she died, however her husband, Michal Pochachevski celebrated his 80th birthday in 1943.  I am also keen to find some of Nechama's poems and a photograph of her.  If anyone has any further information, please get in touch with me.  Thank you.

“Nefesh” (meaning 'soul') was Nechama's pen name.   This apparently described her exactly, as she was very religious. Nechama was born in Brest-Litovsk (now in Belorus), which was part of the Russian Empire in the nineteenth century. By the time she arrived in Eretz Israel, Nechama had already learnt the beauty of the Hebrew language - the language of Yeshayahu and Avraham Mapu, the Bible and love of Zion - and she kept these in her heart all her life. 

Nechama was plucked from her hometown of Brest-Litovsk and taken by boat to the shores of Tzaritzin (Stalingrad), where her parents emigrated. There she studied in a Russian high school.

From Tzaritzin – whilst still very young - Nechama was uprooted once again - this time to Israel. She married Michal Pochachevski – one of six young men from Brest who were training to be gardeners in Israel. Her husband would usually ride his horse from one colony to another to teach the settlers how to use the tree saws and branch shears.

Nechama and her husband lived in an attic of a house belonging to one of Baron Rothschild's officials in Rishon Letzion for Michal worked for the Baron . From the attic veranda the passers-by in the street of the settlement caught glimpses of a delicate face framed by black hair, her dark shining eyes watching the people in the street with interest. 

 In spite of her Russian education, Nechama began to speak Hebrew on the first day she arrived in the Holy Land. Influenced by the colony's teacher, her home became the first in which only Hebrew was spoken. She would send letters to 'Hamelitz' back home, in which the readers could slake their thirst for the details and descriptions of the charm and beauty of the Holy Land. After some years she also sent stories and pictures of life in the new land of Israel.

Nechama was not just concerned with Hebrew literature. She was a settler and was interested in agriculture – she was one of the best and brightest of the Jewish daughters of the land. She was also a pioneering founder in her colony of the cowshed, the chicken run, the vegetable garden and of flowers. Her husband left the employ of the baron and became a colonist – a landowner in Rishon Letzion. He developed his farm with cows, horses, goats, chickens and most of his time in the vineyard and fields was under the control of Nechama. She added some of her flowers to the model garden, she treated the animals as her children, she brought them up the same as her son and daughter. She was an outstanding farmer and agriculturalist, mother and housewife. She baked wonderful bread in the oven and would work as busily as an ant all day long.

 In her old age, she added Russian poetry with its deep sorrow to the younger Hebrew poetry with which her soul was steeped.

Source: Stanley Kaye of the Remembering World War One in 2014 One Hundred Years Facebook Group who suggested planting poppies in Remembrance - translated by Haim Sidor from: "Brisk de-Lita: Encycolpedia Shel Galuyot (Brest Lit(owsk) Volume)" - "The Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora", Editors: E. Steinman, Jerusalem, 1954-55 (H,Y, pages)

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Dublin Writers Festival until 25th May 2015

I must apologise to Michael J. Whelan the Irish poet for he told me about this a while ago and I didn't realise it was so imminent!

Please check out their website and sign up for news about this as it sounds awesome:

I was very pleased to see that the organisers were featuring Russian poet Marina Tsvetaena who is on my List but I have yet to research her life and times and poetry.

Thank you Michael - I am extremely grateful to you and to everyone who takes the time and trouble to contact me.


Monday, 19 May 2014

WW1 Poets who nursed or were VADs, etc. - Agatha Christie (1890 - 1976)

People are surprised to find the name of one of the most famous dramatists and writers of crime fiction in my list of Female Poets of the First World War but Agatha Christie did indeed write poetry during that time.   Her wartime poetry was first published in "The Road of Dreams" by Geoffrey Bles, London in 1924.

Having just got in from seeing a wonderful production of Agatha Christie's play "Black Coffee", which was first performed in 1930 and features the ever-popular Belgian detective Hercult Poirot, I felt I had to post something about Agatha Christie.  During tonight's play, I marvelled yet again at her incredible knowledge of medical substances which she must have learned about when she worked as a VAD in a hospital in Torquay during the First World War.

The performance I saw stars Robert Powell and Liza Goddard with an excellent supporting cast and features Hastings as well as Poirot and Inspector Japp.  I was impressed by the beautiful Art Deco style setting as well as the fantastic acting, costumes and lighting and of course the intricately  woven storyline which keeps you on the edge of your seat until the last  - an absolute delight.

The play "Black Coffee" is currently on tour - do try to see it.  Details from

Photo:  Google Images

Note:  VAD - The Voluntary Aid Detachment was formed in 1909 with the support of the Red Cross and the Order of St. John.   At first it was felt that the volunteers - apparently mostly women of 'good education'  but without formal nursing training were considered to be unsuitable for 'rough work' and certainly nothing near the firing line.  All that changed in 1914 when Katharine Furse took some VADs to the Western Front.  The ladies proved very useful, even under fire.

I have just found out that Katharine Furse also wrote poetry...

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Cicely Fox-Smith

Cicely was one of the very first poets I featured in this project because I began with poets born in the north west of England.

I am pleased to report that there is to be a special event celebrating the life and work of Cicely Fox-Smith at Bow in Devon where she lived until her death and where she is buried.   The event will take place on 21st June 2014 from 2 pm - 10 pm and will feature a guided walk, afternoon tea and an evening of Cicely's poetry set to music.

For further information, to donate to the Society or to book tickets for the event please see their website

or get in touch via the society's e-mail address:

Rosaleen Graves

If you have been following my weblog, you will know that I have been trying to find out more about Rosaleen Graves who was an elder sister of the famous writer and soldier poet Robert Graves.

I discovered quite a lot through contacting Sue Light of the WW1 nursing website Scarlet Finders.  Sue suggested I contact the British Red Cross Archives who hold the records of their WW1 VADs.   The Red Cross came back to me with Rosaleen's WW1 service record and she worked at 54 Base Hospital in Wimereux, France until it was closed down at the end of the war.

I then wondered if Rosaleen had met Wilfred Owen and have begun to try to find out whether or not she was able to attend her brother Robert's wedding in January 1918 which Wilfred Owen also attended.

I have had two very good pieces of information from members of the Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship:

"Graves wrote to Sassoon on 22 April 1917 telling him that Rosaleen was nursing in Sassoon's hospital (4th London, Denmark Hill): 'I'll tell her to come and visit you.' In July 1918 Graves writote a letter suggesting Sassoon might get to see Rosaleen in Boulogne, where she was then nursing. See Paul O'Prey's excellent selected letters of Robert Graves 'In Broken Images'."  From Charles Mundye of the Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship.

"When he wrote a rather delirious poem in a letter to Graves referring to "Lady Otterleen" Sassoon was actually conflating Lady Ottoline Morrell with Rosaleen Graves, who was indeed a nurse at the hospital in which Sassoon was treaded in 1918." From Deb Fisher of the Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship.

With grateful thanks to Sue Light and to Deb Fisher and Charles Mundye.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

"The Glory that was Belgium: A Tribute and a Chronicle" - poetry anthology compiled by Russell Markland

A huge thank you to Dave Coleman for bringing to my attention a wonderful anthology of war poetry compiled by his Father-in-law the late Russell Markland.

"The Glory of Belgium" a book of poetry was compiled by Russell Markland and sold in aid of the Belgian Repatriation fund set up in April 1915 by Mrs Vandervelde, wife of the then Belgian Secretary of State.

The book is available as a free download here:

and is well worth a read as it is full of beautiful poetry.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

WW1 Commemorative Exhibition, Salford Museum and Art Gallery, Salford, Manchester, UK

I managed to visit Salford Museum and Art Gallery on Sunday, 11th May 2014. This was my first visit and I found it very interesting.  Apart from the WW1 Commemorative Exhibition that currently features some of my panels in a whole corner to themselves, there are other rooms within the building showing a wide variety of exhibits.

We were fortunate enough to catch the final day of the exhibition of work by Salford Art Club and the standard was extremely high.  I loved the WW1 commemorative works with poppies, which included a really wonderful sculpture.

Photo:  Looking at some of the poppy pictures, Salford Museum and Art Gallery, May 2014

Salford Museum and Art Gallery was opened in 1850 and was the first free public library in the United Kingdom.   The building is one of those beautiful old Victorian buildings - built to last - and has withstood two World Wars and the advance of modern technology.   There is a lovely cafe on the ground floor - I can definitely recommend the specially prepared tea and delicious cakes.

Salford Museum and Art Gallery
Peel Park
Greater Manchester
M5 4WU

Tel.:  0161 778 0800

"Forget us not, oh land for which we fell
May it go well with ENGLAND still go well
Keep her proud banners without blot or stain
Lest we may dream that we have died in vain."

From the Patricroft Steam Shed, Manchester Roll of Honour

Photo:  Beside the Entrance Panel to the World War One Centenary Exhibition at Salford Museum and Art Gallery until June 2015.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

More new - to me - women poets of WW1

With grateful thanks - again - to Dave Coleman who this morning told me about a soldier poet I had not heard of - see Fascinating Facts - sent me the following this afternoon:

"I'm now listing some female WW1 poets of whom you may not have been aware, lifted from my father in law's anthology "The Glory of Belgium":-

Violet Gillespie, A.Mary F. Robinson (Aagnes Mary Frances Duclaux), Phyllis Marks,  Marion Couthouy Smith, Jeanie Donnan, Bertha Baily, Florence Clee"

It is always a delight to find unknown poets and I shall have a look for "The Glory of Belgium" an Anthology of Poetry edited by Russell Markland (1892 - 1973), as well as trying to find out more about those poets.

Thank you so much Dave.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

London Conference 'Languages and The First World War', British Library Conference Centre, 20th June 2014

And from Dr Margaret Stetz from Delaware University:

"Booking for the London day of the 'Languages and First World War' Conference 
which is to be held at the British Library Conference Centre on the 20th June is 
now open at:

Speakers at the London day include Professor Lynda Mugglestone (Oxford), 
Professor Krista Cowman (Lincoln), Professor Rachel Cowgill (Cardiff), Professor 
Hilary Footitt (Reading), Professor Maguerite Helmers (Wisconsin), Professor 
Robert Hampson (RHUL), Professor Veronique Duche and Ms Diane de Saint Leger 
(Melbourne), Professor Koenraad Du Pont (Leuven), Professor Geert Buelens 
(Utrecht), Julie Wheelwright (City Universirty), Drs Ann-Marie Einhaus and 
Katherine Baxter (Northumbria), Dr Gavin Bowd (St Andrews), Dr Liz Treacher 
(Sutherland), Franziska Heimburger (EHESS), Nick Milne (Ottawa), Ifor ap Gyn 
(Cwmni Da Productions) and Jonnie Robinson, The British Library.

The conference aims to study change within languages and how languages 
influenced each other during the First World War and afterwards; to provide 
scope for discussing commonality of experience; to consider trench slang, 
censorship of letters home, interpreting, the role of the press, the role of 
swearing to both include and exclude and how conflict is expressed in literature 
and propaganda.  We hope the study of the war through language is an innovative 
approach and one which will give rise to new ways of looking at the conflict.
The booking page for London also gives links to the tumblr page which is 
dedicated to the conference and where more details of the papers to be presented 
in London can be found.

Links to the programme and booking details for the first day of the conference 
(to be held at the University of Antwerp on the 18th June) will also appear on 
the tumblr page.  Booking is being kept separate so that delegates have the 
chance to book for both days of the conference or just one of the days depending 
on their schedule.

We would also be grateful if you could circulate details to colleagues whom you 
think might be interested in attending.

With kind regards,
Robert Davies
Engagement Support Officer (Social Sciences)
The British Library"

20 - 22 June 2014 Dinefwr Literature Festival

News just in via Deb Fisher of the Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship:

"Poets Gillian Clarke and Owen Sheers are among those appearing at this year's Dinefwr Literature Festival, which runs from 20 to 22 June. Details here:"

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Roma White - the search continues...

My grateful thanks to Michael "Bully" who is extremely vigilant and very supportive of my project.

Michael forwarded me a reply he received from the Local History Librarian at Poole History Centre in Dorset:

" A brief Internet search shows that Roma White is the pen name of an author called Blanche Oram, later Mrs Winder. Ancestry shows she was born about 1866, she was from London, and the 1911 census shows her living in Gastang (Lancashire). This link should give you an idea of what she has written:

The fisherman named in the poem you mentioned, Jacob Matthews, was a real person. Ancestry database gives us a lot of personal information about him, born about 1882-4, married in 1905 or 1906, by 1911 he had 2 children, lived in Taylors Buildings near the Quay in Poole, his occupation being a fisherman. We have ‘family file’ of information for the Matthews as they are an old Poole family." 

Thank you Michael and thank you to the Poole History Centre.  My paternal Grandparents lived in a house in Broadstone overlooking Poole Harbour.

I have spent some considerable time today trying to find out more but I have again drawn a blank.   I will let you know as soon as I find anything more.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Michael J. Whelan - author

I should like to say Thank You to Michael J. Whelan for his help and encouragement with my project.  Michael is an author and you can find him on Facebook -

Michael mentioned Margaret R. Higonnet's "Lines of Fire Women Writers of World War I", published by the Penguin Books Ltd., London, 1999.   Margaret's book is very comprehensive and features women writers from many countries of the world, covering a wide variety of experiences.

Thank you Michael.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Emmy Ball-Hennings (1885 - 1948) - German

I am keen to include poets from as many countries of the world as possible, in order to demonstrate the global impact of the First World War.  The following information has been kindly compiled and supplied by Penelope Monkhouse.

Emmy Ball-Hennings (1885 Flensburg – 1948 Sorengo/Lugano) (née Emma Maria Cordsen) was the daughter of  Ernst Cordsen, a ship rigger.
From 1904 until1907 Emmy was married to Joseph Paul Hennings, a type setter and amateur actor, with whom she joined a touring theatre company. The couple had two children, Joseph (1904-1905) and Annemarie (*1905).
After separating from her first husband, Emmy moved around Europe as an actress and cabaret artist, leaving her daughter with her mother. In 1905 she worked with the Theatre society Schmidt-Agte in Elmshorn; from 1906-1908 she worked for Oskar Brönner’s theatre group, which played in Schleswig-Holstein..
In 1909 Emmy appeared in Berlin in the Neopathetischen Cabaret des Neuen Clubs. In 1914 she wrote freelance for the journal Simplicissimus, composed her first poems and met Hugo Ball, with whom she emigrated to Switzerland the following year.
In Zürich, with Jean (Hans) Arp, Richard Hülsenbeck and others, Emmy and Hugo  founded the Cabaret Voltaire, the birthplace of Dadaism. Shortly afterwards, to provide more space for visual art, they founded the Galerie Dada. Emmy Hennings and Hugo Ball were married in February 1920; they then ended their work with Dada and moved to Tessin where they began a friendship with Hermann Hesse.
Poetry by Emmy Ball-Hennings:
- Die letzte Freude, Bücherei “Der jüngste Tag”, Wolff-Verlag, Leipzig, 1913.
- Helle Nacht. Reiß Verlag, Berlin 1922
- Der Kranz. Benzinger Verlagsanstalt, Einsiedeln, Köln, 1939
E. Ball-Hennings: Briefe an Hermann Hesse (Letters to Herman Hesse), edited and introduced by  Annemarie Schütt-Hennings; Suhrkamp, Frankfurt, 1956 [Later ed.: Suhrkamp TB 142, Frankfurt, 1984].
R. Caluori: Emmy Ball-Hennings. In: Andreas Kotte (Ed.): Theaterlexikon der Schweiz, Vol. 1. Chronos, Zürich 2005, S. 107.
Bärbel Reetz: Emmy Ball-Hennings, Leben im Vielleicht; eine Biographie. - Frankfurt/M.: Suhrkamp, 2001
René Gass: Emmy Ball-Hennings: Wege und Umwege zum Paradies; eine Biographie, Zürich: Pendo Verl., 1998. 

Photo: Google Images

Penelope Monkhouse (born 1952) is a German-British scientist living in Schwetzingen/Germany and is a granddaughter of the novelist, dramatist and literary critic Allan Monkhouse. Literature of the early 20th century is presently one of her chief non-scientific interests; she is presently engaged on a comparative study of German and English poetry of this period. She also writes poetry of her own and translates poetry to and from German and English.