War Poetry Events
A vast programme of events commemorating The First World War is being
co-ordinated by Britain’s Imperial War Museum.
The Imperial War Museum, London First World War Centenary Partnership Programme
The First World War Centenary Partnership’s Programme presents over 500 new exhibitions, 1,500 events across the country and 700 new digital resources to commemorate the Centenary of the First World War.
Established in 2010 by IWM (Imperial War Museums), the First World War Centenary Partnership is a network of over 1,800 cultural and educational not-for-profit organisations from 37 countries, who are producing a collective programme of events, activities and resources from 2014 – 2018 to mark the centenary.
Of the 500 new exhibitions and galleries opening around the world, 200 of these will launch in 2014 in 14 countries, and they will include over 50 new art commissions. In 2014, over 150 members of the Partnership from 10 countries will be launching their events as part of the global commemorations. These events include film screenings, performances and festivals, lectures, tours and hands-on workshops encouraging the public to interact with the objects, stories and issues presented by the conflict. 700 digital resources about the First World War will be created for the Centenary including digitised collections, virtual exhibitions, games, podcasts, films and videos and online courses as well as nearly 100 mobile apps relating to the First World War.
Diane Lees, Director−General of IWM said: “The First World War Centenary Partnership’s Programme is vast and continues to grow on a daily basis. The thousands of events, exhibitions and resources being produced will allow people to mark the centenary in their communities, in a way that is meaningful to them.
This outstanding level of activity shows that discussions about marking the centenary are not only taking place at Governmental, academic and institutional levels but also in homes and communities in the UK and beyond. The First World War centenary really matters to a huge amount of people. It may be because of a personal and family connection, the effect the First World War had on their hometown, how it changed our wider society or because of their beliefs about war and the importance of peace. We are all connected to the First World War and this huge and growing programme shows that millions of people want to remember and learn more about its impact.”
1914.org is the official website for the First World War Centenary Partnership. Throughout the centenary new events and activities will be added each week to the events calendar produced in partnership with Culture 24.
Highlights of the First World War Centenary Partnership Programme:
First World War Centenary Exhibitions
New ground-breaking First World War Galleries will open at IWM London (from July 2014) drawing on IWM’s First World War collections which are the richest and most comprehensive in the world, as well as Truth and Memory: British Art of the First World War – the largest and first major retrospective of British First World War art for almost 100 years featuring over 110 paintings, sculptures and drawings from IWM’s collections, will assess the immediate impact and enduring legacy of Britain’s First World War art.
The largest exhibition ever created exploring the North West of England during the war – From Street to Trench: A War That Shaped a Region will open at IWM North (from 5 April 2014) revealing the region’s role in a global conflict and how it was shaped by this landmark conflict.
Meanwhile at IWM Duxford, visitors will be able to find out about the nature of land warfare and mechanisation in the Land Warfare exhibition as well as First World War aircraft in its AirSpace exhibition.
Tate Modern will present 100 Years Later: Conflict, Time, Photography (from 19 Nov 2014, working title), where the relationship between photography and different sites of conflict is explored over time. Highlighting the fundamental aspect of time in photography, the exhibition will include different perspectives which artists using cameras have brought to the sites they have depicted over different passages of time: from works made a few moments or one day after an event, to those made one year later or 10, 20, 30 and 100 years later.
Education and Digital Resources for the Centenary of the First World War
IWM will launch Lives of the First World War (Feb 2014), a permanent digital memorial to more than 8 million men and women from across Britain and the Commonwealth who served in uniform and worked on the home front. From those who served from across the country, the million who served from Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the 1.5 million people from the Indian sub-continent served in uniform through to those from Africa, the West Indies and many other parts of the ‘Empire.’ It will be the official place for communities across the world to connect, explore, reveal and share even more about these people’s lives. IWM is inviting everyone to discover their stories, connect their records and remember their lives.
The British Library is leading the UK’s contribution to a pan-European commemoration of the Centenary, Europeana Collections 1914-1918, which will make hundreds of thousands of newly digitised materials relating to stories and events of the war available online for free. 10,000 items from the British Library’s own collections will be accessible via Europeana, and as part of the project the a new online resource offering curated access to around 500 of the items on the site for schools and lifelong learners will be launched. The Library’s digitised content will showcase both the British and international experiences of the war, including poetry, postcards and propaganda posters, trench journals, handwritten letters and children’s accounts of the war, as well as an astonishing collection of censored mail sent home by Indian troops serving on the front line.
During the centenary Quakers across the UK will be focusing on their opposition to war and the role in the creation of legislation to allow conscientious objection. A real-time social media storytelling project will introduce five Quakers who blog about their daily lives and dilemmas: faced with conscription, should they go to prison, go to war or seek alternative service? The White Feather Diaries will run over three years leading up to the anniversary of the Act which brought in conscription.
YOUR FIRST WORLD WAR EVENTS
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One Hundred Years’ War – Modern War Poems
Neil Astley’s compelling anthology on tour as a stage performance
On tour in the Midlands and the north of England
- Includes previously unheard words of Taliban fighter and German soldiers
- Many poems never heard in UK before
- Poetry-in-performance inspired by the Bloodaxe anthology of war poetry
A new stage production will give a fresh voice to war poetry from the last century.
In The Hundred Years’ War, 40 poems will be performed by three actors, each chronicling times of war and conflict, with verse from aggressor and victim, soldier and civilian, the wounded and those watching on in horror.
The production offers stories of war from across the world, from the trenches of the Somme to the horrors of the Second World War and the Holocaust, and in Korea, the Middle East, Vietnam, Ireland, the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Produced by Midland Creative Projects in association with the Belgrade Theatre Coventry, The Hundred Years’ War is based on the eponymous anthology of poetry edited by Neil Astley, published by Bloodaxe Books in spring 2014.
Jonathan Davidson, Executive Producer of The Hundred Years’ War, commented: “The intention is to present poetry in a new way, stepping away from the traditional recitation of verse and instead performing the poems so that they become rich with life.”
Davidson continues, “That old perception of poetry as something that has to be studied stops people from realising just how good it really is. Within each poem there is a narrative, a feature film in short. Our job is to find that film and offer it directly to the audience so that it provokes a response. The material we are working with is so visceral, so heart-breaking, that it deserves to be performed to maximum impact.”
Amongst the poems chosen for The Hundred Years’ War is a German view of trench warfare in World War One and Bertolt Brecht’s 1940 verse as a German living in exile in Finland. There is an account of the atomic bomb by a survivor in Hiroshima, and the words of a Vietnamese fighter who has shot a friend from childhood, the old ties severed by war.
The most searing accounts are personal. In I would call her my girlfriend, a Scottish nightwatchman tells how he discovered the body of his girlfriend and her children in Bosnia. Colin Mackay had volunteered to take food and supplies to that country and whilst there, fell in love. He briefly left the country to arrange for his new family’s departure to Scotland, only to find them murdered on his return. Colin Mackay later took his own life.
Voices of all nations and creeds are represented, often from opposing sides. In Trenches, a Taliban fighter named Jawad writes in joy at his jihad, fired by a deep belief in the righteousness of his path.
Reflecting on a century of warfare, the British-Pakistani poet Imtiaz Dharker writes about Malala Yousafzai and the eternal fight for quality and freedom in the world.
The Hundred Years’ War opens at the Belgrade Theatre Coventry on 31 October before commencing a UK tour.
Friday 31st October – Belgrade Theatre Coventry
Saturday 1st November – Belgrade Theatre Coventry
Wednesday 12th November – Selby Town Hall
Thursday 13th November – Seven Arts, Leeds
Friday 14th November – Helmsley, North Yorkshire
Saturday 15th November – Rope Walk, Barton on Humber, North Lincolnshire
Thursday 20th November – Culture Lab Arts Centre, Newcastle University, Newcastle
Thursday 27th November – The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield as part of Off the Shelf Festival of Words
Midland Creative works in the creative arts sector, specialising in literature development. Its founder and Director is Jonathan Davidson, who also serves as Chief Executive of Writing West Midlands. He is a producer of literature in performance, having produced four touring poetry-theatre shows over the last ten years. He is also a writer for radio; his sixth radio drama will be broadcast by BBC Radio Four in early 2015. He lives in Coventry.
OTHER PREVIOUS EVENTS
First World War Talk, Friday 14th November, 2014, Cambridge, UK
“The ‘True poets’ of the First World War, a national an international perspective - The role of war poetry in understanding the First World War.”
Speaker David Roberts.
ACE Foundation, Cambridge
The “true poets” of the First World War – a national and international perspective – The role of war poetry in understanding the First World War. (David Roberts is the editor of The War Poetry Website and three anthologies of First World War poetry). It was Wilfred Owen who said, “All a poet can do today is warn. That is why the true poets must be truthful.” For most people their understanding of the First World War is shaped more by the poetry of the war rather than the history. Some modern historians have criticised the poets for presenting what they see as a narrow and misleading view of the war. Who were the “true poets” of the First World War? Are they the true interpreters of the experience of the First World War? The poets of the warring nations had one advantage over modern historians: they were there. Join the discussion.
David Roberts was: “One of the highlights of the festival.” – Rita Skinner, Town Clerk and Secretary to the Charles Causley Festival of Literature and the Arts, Launceston, Cornwall, writing about the Charles Causley Festival, June 2014 when David Roberts spoke on Beyond Wilfred Owen – The experience and poetry of today’s soldier poets.
Poetry Event in Brighton, UK, 30 October 2014
Included translator, Ian Higgins, on “new” First World War poet, Paul Granier.
The ‘Past & Present’ sessions at StAnza, Scotland’s international poetry festival, present contemporary speakers giving a personal response to a favourite past poet. For 2014, to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War, the sessions focused on poets’ response to war.
In the first event, on 6 March at 2.15–3.15, in St Andrews Town Hall, Ian Higgins introduced Paul Granier, a French poet killed at Verdun in 1917, whose war poems created a sensation in France when they were rediscovered in 2008 and are set to have as big an impact in the English-speaking world as a result of Higgins’ new translation of Granier’s Cockerels and Vultures, a book for anyone interested in the poetry of the Great War.
He was joined by Lesley Duncan, poetry editor at The Herald, who discussed Charles Hamilton Sorley, one of Scotland’s greatest poets from that war, and Hamish Henderson, whose Elegies for the Dead in Cyrenaica is arguably the best book of Second World War poetry in English.
After the talk by Ian Higgins the Festival Bookshop was delighted to have sold all its copies of Cockerels and Vultures.