Thursday Writing Prompt No. 102

Sculpture outside the Baltimore War Memorial Building.

Sculpture of a sea horse and eagle by Edmond R. Amateis, located outside the Baltimore War Memorial Building. Photo by Karen S. Garvin.

This week’s Thursday Writing Prompt is about poetry and the memories of war. This year, 2014, marks the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, also known as the Great War. Trench warfare and the use of gas are the historical aspects of WWI that you’re most likely to see featured on television shows and in movies, but some great poetry was written during the confrontation. Some of the authors were Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Alfred Joyce Kilmer, Vera Brittain, John McCrae, Rudyard Kipling, Katharine Tynan, and Alan Seeger.

Your task this week is to combine history and poetry. Go to the First World War Poetry Digital Archive or First World War: Prose and Poetry and spend some time viewing the collections. Pick two authors and read one poem from each writer. To get a much better feel for their work, view any images of the actual manuscripts. Your task is to notice the language used in the poems and how the authors told their story. There’s no writing involved this week unless you’re moved by what you read and want to try your own hand at war poems. This isn’t a post about politics, but about the wider scope of war and human experience. If you do make an attempt to write something, try to see beyond the political squabbling and into the greater truths of human nature.

The photo accompanying this post building is the Baltimore War Memorial Building, which was completed in 1925. It serves as a memorial to Maryland veterans of all wars and has an interesting history of its own.

Cindy Kelly, Outdoor Sculpture in Baltimore: A Historical Guide to Public Art in the Monumental City. With photographs by Edwin Harlan Remsberg. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 2011.

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