War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

the ethics of writing

a quick note. a quick thought/question on the ethics of writing in the time of war.

we ask ourselves. the war artists. visual, performance, written word. where do art, ethics intersect? when is telling the story exploitation? what are we doing with this anyway?

today’s May Day mentions the awful loss our country sustained in the last 24 hours. I know loss. I know what it’s like to be hunted down by journalists for comments on our beloved ones who have been lost. I have been a family spokesperson. faced the television camera.

and by mentioning our four soldiers killed today, is this using someone’s tragedy? should I change details? the location? am I no better than those I wrote of in August Widow?

black coats/murder of shiny microphones, video cams [that] beak, [that] claw, [that] pick at mourner carrion?

I am often told incredible things by our soldiers. they share stories of suffering. do I write this? how? sometimes they ask me if I’ll write something for them. should I?

I’ve witnessed the slow march to the soldier’s grave. the widow’s limousine pull up to the church. the parents. the comrades. the children. I wrote. no details. no names. just an initial, for MCpl A

a soldier’s girlfriend has read May Day. she told me it brings back a lot. though he’s been home a year now. she told me that she had to put it down several times as she was reading it. she thanked me. why?

do I need to know?

or should I just write.

2 Comments (Closed)


The zen answer: Yes

Mar 22 2009 · 15:20


If Owen, Sassoon et al hadn’t written about what they saw and felt in WW1, would we understand the personal effect of conflict? On the Somme, 20,ooo were butchered in one day. Does it matter whether it is 20,000, four or just even one? Each one is important to someone, and someone must tell of courage, grief, suffering and, yes, sometime even of the meaningless waste of a young life . That someone is the writer or poet. That someone, ‘s’, is you -Zen or no Zen!

Mar 24 2009 · 14:50

About This Page

The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled the ethics of writing. It was posted here on March 21, 2009.


Complete diary archive