Poetry in Wartime

illustration from wpshoppe.com

It is recommended that the documentary Voices of Wartime be shown initially as a lead-in to working with the material in the module. If this module is to be used in conjunction with other thematic modules, then it is appropriate to view the documentary at the beginning of the course of study and refer back to portions of the documentary that support the topics being engaged. 

Poetry offered in this module is chronologically arranged beginning with Enheduanna, thought to be history’s earliest recorded writer, and ending with an excerpt from the work of Seamus Heaney, 1995 Nobel Literature Prize winner. All of the poems, with the exception of the two works by young persons towards the end of the module, are followed by questions for reflection or discussion, activities or suggested work for research or further investigation. Poetry of a significant number of poets, for example: Enheduanna, Homer, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Langston Hughes, Chris Abani, and Antonieta Villamil are linked to historical activities and research. A special series of suggested activities is provided on British Poets and Writers.

At the end of Poetry in Wartime is a comprehensive Annotated Bibliography that appears in four sections:
Background information on the two anthologies that helped provide a significant amount of material for the film, Voices in Wartime;

  1. Selected writing by those individuals interviewed or featured in the film,
  2. Books about the poets who are included in the film, and
  3. Selected bibliography of writers who are referred to in the film or through interview segments in the module. This bibliography can prove to be extremely valuable when conducting research, working on expanding a topic, or just for the joy of finding additional material to read.
The significance of poetry is certainly contained within the words. However, hearing poetry read aloud has an unusual power. Encourage students to read poems out loud. Pave the way by reading a selection from Poetry in Wartime. Allow students to hear poems several times before even discussing them in class. Select a poem and read it once, then have students jot notes about what they believe the poem is about. Have it read a second and third time. Each time ask for explanation. Discuss with students how they interpretations may have changed. 
 
Finally, within Poetry in Wartime is a continuous conversation thread about poetry and the role of poets. Use the discussion questions offered in the module as a personal reflection on what poetry means to each person in the class.