War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele


just off the phone with Anna Maria Trimonte of The Current (CBC) to be broadcast tomorrow morning… I’m always wary of interviews, conscious always that a poorly articulated idea, phrase, can come back and bite me in the derriere… and of course, anxious about that old rattlesnake, being taken out of context… and today, very, very tired, not in top form, not sharp as I was on the day of the BBC World Service interview (see below or Audio section)…

this morning on air I quoted from WWI poet, Arthur Graeme West’s poem, How I Hate You, You Young Cheerful Young Men… an elegy of sorts to the lost youth of WWI. West himself lost to a sniper’s bullet outside Bapaume, France. (I’m going to get his Diary of a Dead Officer).

I quoted from that poem, simply because it is what I was reading before the interview, and because I was struck by some of the observations he made which were eerily close to some made to me by an Afghan vet just yesterday about the physical realities of war… plus ca change… as a Sgt. Maj. said to me awhile back, take away the technology and a slap across the face is still a slap across the face…

anyway, I read the lines,

_God, How I hate you, you young cheerful men,
Whose pious poetry blossoms on your graves
As soon as you are in them, nurtured up
By the salt of your corruption, and the tears
Of mothers…_

and now I’m thinking, oh my God, I hope the people don’t think I chose that particular poem to reflect my sentiments… I read from it simply because it was the last thing I had read…

this gives an idea of the tightrope of the interview…

still, my work ultimately will either stand or fall on its own merit… and as I said to Trimonte, all of this war art is like a pointillist painting, like a Seurat… thousands of dots of colour (thousands of lines of poetry, paintings, film, installations etc.) and maybe then, the grandchildren 30 years hence, will begin to understand what it meant for their fathers and mothers to serve in Afghanistan… that the picture will be clear

and afterall, my words on the radio, this chatter of a diary, are simply white noise to it all… kind of like the hiss of RF, or the soft drone of the diesel engines and the relentless blasting whoosh of the heater in the belly of a LAV

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled interviews. It was posted here on October 29, 2008.


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