Preserving the Voices of Great War Poets

100 years ago the only truly expressive medium available to everyone was poetry. Should we therefore be surprised that throughout the chaos and trauma of the First World War many young war poets took to the pen?

In their words we find immortalised experiences; an attempt to process some of the horrors they had seen, justify their duties or criticise the absurdity of the entire conflict. In parallel we read the statistics, the history books full of shocking numbers and striking casualty lists: 714,000 dead (Verdun), 19,000 dead (Somme: Day 1), 41 million casualties in total, all terrible but detached.

Struck by this impersonal impact we can see how poetry – an art shared by everyone– could be exactly what we need. It is through poetry that we can empathise, commemorate and identify with the soldiers of the First World War – 100 years later.

The project called ‘Words of WW1’ grew naturally from this realization.

It is a UofG project seeks to bring together powerful poems, detailed camera-work and expressive orators in an effort to preserve the voices of the Great War poets. They aim to create a video series which captures the development of the conflict – from initial enthusiasm to eventual cynicism – through individual’s experiences (i.e. their poetry!). These poems will be filmed in France, at the modern-day remnants of WW1 sites and published online for all to see.

If you wish to follow the project, this is a link to their Facebook Page.

[Xavier Weiss]

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