OUR ‘CONFLICT’ PAGE UPDATED 06 MARCH 2019

From Conflict to Reconciliation:
a report on the four year poetry project to commemorate the centenary of WW1.

In the beginning, we focused on Wilfred Owen, his poetry and his death on the Sambre-Oise Canal in Ors on the Western Front in November 1918. This because we were fortunate to be invited via Art Connexions, Lille, in 2010, to the initial stages of the re-imagining of La Maison Forestiere by the British sculptor, Simon Patterson. This house where Owen and fellow soldiers from the Manchesters’ spent their last night, just outside the village of Ors, is now a celebration of the poet’s life and work. It was the inclusion of an outside performance space in the plans which inspired our thinking about commissioning a poetry project to take advantage of this in the future.

We were grateful to the Suffolk Branch of the Western Front Association for donating seed funding, Mosaic Stanza, and Poetrywivenhoe, to whom proceeds would be donated to further community poetry activities. We began by commissioning local poets to submit work on the general theme of ‘Conflict’ and we also invited interested students on the M.A. Fine Art course at Colchester Institute to choose a poem from the final selection and respond with an illustration. The resulting anthology, edited by Stephen Boyce of Winchester Poetry Festival, so too have the doves gone (Jardine Press), was published in 2014 to coincide with the outbreak of hostilities a hundred years previously.

To commemorate the ending of the War in 1918, we commissioned a further anthology on the theme of ‘Reconciliation’ from as many of the original poets as possible. Towards the Light was published in 2018 and includes translations of some of the poems into French, German and Italian, in the spirit of reconciliation. This anthology was edited by Vivien Whelpton, an expert in the poetry of the First World War, and author of the acclaimed biography, Richard Aldington, Poet, Soldier and Lover. Proceeds from the sale of Towards the Light are to be donated to Colchester Refugee Action.

The Project was brought to a fitting conclusion at La Maison Forestiere, in the performance space as we had originally envisaged, by a reading on 5 November from both anthologies, by some of the contributing poets with the support of the editors, as part of a Battle Honours Tour, Wilfred Owen on the Western Front. This reading followed a moving ceremony at Owen’s graveside where a bagpipe lament was played, a German bugle owned by Owen sounded the last post, and there were readings of his poems. This was broadcast live by the B.B.C. on Armistice Day.

A list of events associated with the Project follows. It has been an amazing few years and our grateful thanks go to all those, especially the poets, who made it possible.

A few, too few for drums and yells
May creep back, silent, to village wells …
. . . . . . . Wilfred Owen, The send-off


Pam Job and Judith Wolton
Project Events

READINGS:

2014
Launch of Project at Essex Book Festival of so too have the doves gone with readings from contributing poets together with slides of The Forester’s House, Ors, at The Minories Gallery, Colchester.

Launch at Poetrywivenhoe, sponsor of the first part of the Project

Launch at Essex Poetry Festival, The Cramphorn Theatre, Chelmsford

Readings at the Winchester Poetry Festival, The Martello Tower, Jaywick, at Arlingtons Poetry Cafe, Ipswich, and Felixstowe Book Festival.

2018
Launch of Towards the light -The Minories Gallery, Colchester

Invitation to read at Halstead Library as part of Essex Poetry Festival

Readings as part of a Remembrance event at Quay Place, Ipswich

A reading at the WW1 Exhibition at the Minories Gallery commemorating the end of WW1

Pam Job’s poem, The Parcel, written for so too have the doves gone, was chosen to be read at Ipswich Remembers, a multi media event held at The Corn Exchange in March to mark the end of the First World War.

This poem has subsequently been set to music, together with poems by Siegfried Sassoon and Carl Sandburg, by the tenor and composer Tom Randle and it will receive its world premiere perfomance by Ipswich Choral Society at Snape Maltings in April 2019.

Workshops:
The following poetry workshops based around the anthologies were held over the four years:

Suffolk University students

Minories, Colchester – artists from the Institute of Fine Arts.

Mosaic Stanza, Colchester

Two workshops in Parsons Heath Primary School

A few copies of the anthologies are available at a special ‘end of Project’ price. Contact Pam or Judith.

 

Monument to Wilfred Owen at Ors

 
THE WIVENHOE LAUNCH OF OUR CONFLICT ANTHOLOGY “so too have the doves gone” took place at the Royal British Legion on Thursday 27 March 2014.

The title of the anthology “so too have the doves gone” is a line taken from Antony Johae‘s poem Mosque in Kabul 2000.

2014
The ‘Dove’s reading’ event at Arlington’s Poetry Cafe, Ipswich, on 4 November (the anniversary of Wilfred Owen’s death) was a great success. We had a large and interested audience – in fact we had to take over the bar there were so many people – and we sold 6 books.

This reading brought to a close our ‘Doves’ roadshow for 2014. Our adventure began in March with the amazing turn out for the launch of the Anthology at the Minories Arts Cafe in Colchester. Since then we have perfected our accompanying slide show.

Judith and Pam have worked with the Anthology and the slide show in Parson’s heath Primary School at the invitation of the Head, Sheena Clover, and this was followed by a workshop at the University of Suffolk in Ipswich. We have also run a workshop at the Minories for the Stanza Poetry Group, Mosaic.

Judith ran a session with the Anthology at the first Suffok Poetry Society Poetry Festival at Stowmarket at the end of May. We then did a reading at the second Felixstowe Book Festival at the end of June.

We took the Anthology and our available poets to the inaugural Winchester Poetry Festival in September. This was an amazing event and Stephen Boyce, our Anthology editor, was the guiding spirit behind this. We were treated to a feast of poetry from Jackie Kay, Michael Longley, Maura Dooley and a host of poets equally inspiring. One of the highlights was a talk on Edward Thomas from the distinguished Irish academic Edna Longley. It was gratifying to receive very positive feedback from the audience for our reading.

Our tireless poets then read again in October at the Essex Poetry Festival and we would like to take this opportunity to thank them all for all their efforts – it’s been a lot of fun, and, of course, we have sold lots of books, which means money into Poetry Wivenhoe’s coffers so that we can continue to bring the best of contemporary poetry to our loyal Wivenhoe audience.

Pam Job and Judith Wolton

 

See a review of the anthology in our Reviews page.