2014 is, of course, the centenary of the outbreak of World War One. I am currently co-ordinating a collection of short works at LibriVox on this theme, which will be catalogued in time for the 28th July. It is to be a multi-lingual collection, and I hope to have contributions from many parts of the world relating to all sides of the conflict. It will consist not only of poetry from the trenches but many other aspects of the war, from both military and civilian viewpoints.
Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen entered the public domain in the UK on the 1st January this year, and I shall be recording it for the collection.
In my little part of the world, so close to the coast of mainland Europe, the First World War had a devastating effect in many ways. Aside from the loss of life from air raids in the latter stages of the war, Folkestone was the main port of embarkation for soldiers and a major location for the sick and wounded on their return. There were also many Canadian forces stationed in the vicinity of Hythe and Folkestone, and many refugees from Belgium found safety on our shores. I shall be recording an excerpt on some of these subjects from Folkestone During the War.
In the meantime, I should like to draw your attention to a video made by Robbie Ellis to commemorate the centenary. It is a powerful piece, and you should be warned that some of the footage is (unsurprisingly) distressing. Robbie asked me last year to narrate two poems for his video, Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen, and his own poem The Window, which I found most moving.
You can find the video, The Great War – Centenary, on Youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqzDclCZv0U