ISJ November 2014: War Poetry in the 21st century: legacy, context, relevance – and the poetry…
The indefinite title of this article is an opening gambit towards interrogating the elusive significance and the possible approaches international educators might adopt when addressing the literature, and specifically the poetry, of the First World War, particularly during these centenary years of that conflagration.
For a start, even the term War Poetry has a very precise and perhaps limited significance within the particular cultural context(s) where this phrase most resonates. For the nations of the United Kingdom, and including some of the Commonwealth countries, the manifestations of certain cultural, perhaps even ‘tribal’ values and national narratives are deeply embedded in the teaching and the discourse surrounding war poetry – always and unequivocally the poems that came out of young soldiers’ experiences during World War One. Even more precisely, especially at secondary school level, these poetic renditions might be boiled down to the works of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon with occasional inclusions from a small handful of others.