Closing Date is 15th Septemeber
Entrants must be 25 or Under
‘War poetry’ is a phrase that, for many of us, brings to mind the lines of Wilfred Owen or Siegfried Sassoon – “what passing-bells for these who die as cattle?”; “O, but Everyone/ Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.” The poetry of the First World War has been consistently anthologized, remembered and studied in classroom and universities across the world. The poetry of the Second World War, in contrast, seems to have much more of a fragile grip on our public consciousness – although this is a balance that many are seeking to redress.
The Poetry Society’s Timothy Corsellis Prize, hosted on Young Poets Network, was created and memory of a young poet and pilot killed in 1941 at the age of 20. Timothy Corsellis’ poems explore the experience of the Blitz and the combined boredom and exhilaration of flight training. Originally a conscientious objector, Timothy volunteered for the RAF in 1940. However, horrified to be put under Bomber Command, which would involve the bombing of civilians, he requested a transfer, and before his death, spent six months as an Air Raid Precautions Officer, helping civilians through the Blitz. There is a fascinating biography of Timothy here on the War Poets Association website if you’d like to find out more, and you can also hear actor Tim Bentinck reading Timothy’s poems ‘Engine Failure’ and ‘Dawn After the Raid
The Timothy Corsellis Prize, named in his memory, was originally launched in 2014 and encourages young poets up to the age of 25 to explore the poetry of the Second World War, and the lives and legacies of its authors, by producing their own poetic responses. The 2016 Prize profiles the work of seven poets writing during the war years: Keith Douglas, Sidney Keyes, Alun Lewis, John Jarmain, Henry Reed, and Anna Akhmatova.
All these poets – lesser-known to many than Sassoon, Owen or Rosenberg, but poets of just as much power – wrote with great insight of their experience of war. Keith Douglas noted that “Hell cannot be let loose twice”, and there seems to have been a sense of this among poets of the Second World War, resulting in a markedly different – although no less vivid or valuable – style of war poetry. You can find out more about each of the seven poets featured in this year’s prize, and read examples of their work, by following the link to this special article on Young Poets Network.
The winner of last year’s Corsellis prize, Jenny Burville-Riley, used Alun Lewis’ poem ‘All Day It has Rained’ as the inspiration for her own haunting tribute and prize-winning poem:
Hovering ghosts in Himalayan foothills
skin beautifully cool, eyes
hollow as spent cartridges
we exhale smoke from Victorys
by the side of a road that passes
the convalescence hospital.
Rough cut layers of mountain above
march in sturdy sequence to
a towering crescendo of white summits.
Geology softens in morning light
transforms to crumpled piles of jumble
waiting to be rifled through.
Beneath, a lone Sherpa
starts his slow ascent, bent back
burdened with a baby grand piano
stiff legs skyward as a big game trophy.
We watch the weighted figure
with amazement for the Sherpa
is a mere eighth-rest of a man.
“Look at that lazy bugger”
quips Dusty and quick laughter
landslides in a throaty scree.
Jenny writes: “In Lewis’s poem there is the juxtaposition of mundane details such as “darning dirty socks” with dramatic images such as “dropping bombs on Rome” and “herded refugees”. I tried to create juxtapositional images too: a raw, rugged environment vs the strange, unexpected appearance of a refined instrument – the baby grand piano – on a man’s back!”
Young Poets Network has already received many fantastic entries to the 2016 Corsellis Prize, and it’s encouraging more! As well as poetry, Young Poets Network also welcomes the insights of essayists in its Corsellis Young Critics Prize, which runs concurrently with the poetry prize, and asks you to write about which three poets of the seven listed above you think are most likely to be read in twenty years’ time, and why.
Both prizes are open to all young writers aged 25 and under, living anywhere in the world. The deadline for all entries is Monday 15 September.
The judges for both prizes will be Professor Fran Brearton (for the War Poets Association), a leading authority on war poetry; Nic Vanderpeet from Imperial War Museums; Judith Palmer, Director of The Poetry Society, and, new to the panel this year, Wendy Cope, noted poet and author of, among other collections, Making Cocoa For Kingsley Amis.
Prizes include book tokens, a selection of poetry goodies, and publication on Young Poets Network. The first prize poem will be published in The Poetry Society’s quarterly paper Poetry News, and the first prize essay will be published on The Poetry Society’s website.
For more information and for details of how to submit your work, please visit the Timothy Corsellis Prize page on Young Poets Network.
Young Poets Network is The Poetry Society’s online platform for young poets up to the age of 25. Here you’ll find features about poets and poetry, challenges and competitions to inspire your own writing, new writing from young poets, and advice and guidance from the rising and established stars of the poetry scene. We also bring you the latest news and ideas from the writing world, and a list of competitions, magazines and writing groups which particularly welcome young writers.
Young Poets Network would like to thank the Corsellis family for their generosity in establishing this Prize and their continuing support of The Poetry Society.
Follow this link to see this article, published by the Daily Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/my-father-robert-graves-the-war-poet-who-cheated-death/?WTmcid=tmgoff_soc_spf_fb&WT.mc_id=sf31585123
Leading British film, TV and stage actor Edward Fox will be reading his favourite poems of the First World War and talking about what they mean to him. This will include poems by Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Mary Borden, Edward Thomas and other poets caught up in the war.
Edward is famous for his leading roles in major productions including The Day of the Jackal and Edward and Mrs Simpson. He will be joined by Professor Paul O’Prey, editor of First World War: Poems from the Front, published by IWM in 2014 to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War. Professor O’Prey will also launch his new edition of the poems of Laurence Binyon.
Tickets: £20, IWM Members: £15
Ticket includes one glass of wine or soft drink.
To book call: 020 7416 5255 / 5372 .
Unfortunately this event cannot be booked online.
The Turning Point
A study tour of the writing and writers of the Battle of the Somme
15-18 October 2016
“Between the opulent Edwardian years and the 1920s the First World War opens like a gap in time. England after the war was a different place; the arts were different; history was different; sex, society, class were all different”. Whilst most who have studied the events of 1914-18 would agree with Samuel Hynes, many would under- stand that the most significant stimulus of change can be narrowed down to the Bat- tle of the Somme which dominated the British sector of the Western Front during the summer of 1916.
Philip Gibbs, who had covered the war for the Daily Chronicle, writing about the Somme in 1919 said, “Modern civilization was wrecked on those fire-blasted fields, though they led to what we called ‘victory’. More died there than the flower of our youth and German manhood. The old order of the world died there, because many men who came alive out of that conflict were changed, and vowed not to tolerate a system of thought which had led up to such a monstrous massacre of human beings who prayed to the same God”.
The Somme saw the deployment of Kitchener’s volunteer army. The men who had rushed to the colours in the summer of 1914 were put to the ultimate test and whilst no one could doubt their bravery it proved to be an army ‘two years in the making and ten minutes in the killing’. At the end of the first day, July 1st, almost 60,000 Brit- ish men lay dead, dying or wounded and with them died the idealism, not only of the war itself but of society in general.
It was, in every sense, the turning point that was to have a massive impact on British society. Our tour aims to examine how the events surrounding this bloody period of the war were interpreted by the poets and writers of the day and by those who have reflected on it since.
The group will travel by luxury air-conditioned coach and will be based in a 3* hotel in Arras, the cost will include most meals & museum entry fees.
Full details of the tour will be available in the autumn of 2015.
To register your interest please email Andy Thompson at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The War Poets Association
Dear Members and Friends,
The War Poetry Review 2014-15, the Journal of the War Poets Association (WPA), edited by the eminent war poetry and First World War scholars Santanu Das and Kate McLoughlin is now available.
The Review is dedicated to the memory of Jon Stallworthy, a great friend of the WPA, who died last November and includes a conversation on War Poetry in which Jon and Santanu took part in 2012 with Andrew Motion and Michael Longley. There are in addition a number of excellent articles by distinguished contributors and the Committee takes this opportunity to thank very warmly the editors for their hard work on the Review and all the contributors for their most welcome contributions.
The Review is being posted to all current WPA members who have asked for a copy and will also be posted on our website: www.warpoets.org for members who have asked not to have a copy but to see it online.
The WPA Committee will be meeting again in the summer to continue our plan- ning for the Somme visit in October 2016. More detail of where we are on this is set out over the page.
In addition, the Committee is considering a joint event with the Wilfred Owen Association to be held probably in November and when we have something definite on this we will post details on the website.
Please keep in touch with us, via the website and e mail, with your ideas on war poetry and what the WPA should be doing. We are also always looking for support and new committee members with ideas and enthusiasm.
With best wishes for 2015 from the WPA Committee,
David Worthington, Chairman.