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Alan Sillitoe: Selected Poems Chosen by Ruth Fainlight
Alan Sillitoe is one of the leading British novelists of the twentieth century, as well as an award-winning poet. He wrote over fifty books, establishing an enduring critical and popular success with his early novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958), which set a new direction in writing about the reality of working-class lives in post-war Britain.
Sillitoe said that his poetry and fiction came out of totally different territories, and that his poetry revealed his own inner life in a way that he found impossible to do in fiction. Here are poems of love and poems that reflect on the world as he saw it, as well as poems that use the story-teller’s skill to bring to life people and places that capture his imagination and take him on a search for meaning – fascist graffiti scrawled by an unseen hand on a wall in Irkutsk, three sons standing in silence by the grave of their father. This is Sillitoe’s world as seen with his poet’s eye, a vision that is at the same time clear and precise, politically engaged, fiercely intelligent, and deeply personal.
This selection, drawn from his eight volumes of poetry, has been chosen by his wife, the poet Ruth Fainlight
Counter-Wave: Poetry of Rescue in the First World War
This major new anthology of war poetry brings together for the first time the work of poets who saw active service on the Western Front, but not with a gun in their hand. Their role was to save life, not to take it.
Ernest Hemingway and EE Cummings drove ambulances. Mary Borden, Carola Oman and Vera Brittain were nurses. All of them volunteered their services to help those caught up in the war, often at great personal risk to themselves.
Finding themselves amid scenes of unimaginable horror, each one experienced the realities of the war first-hand and wrote about what they saw and did with great honesty and compassion.
In 1917 the Red Cross invited Laurence Binyon to write an account of its activities on the Western Front. He spent a month touring the war zone and visiting numerous hospitals and field canteens, talking to the men and women who were serving as volunteer nurses, doctors, ambulance drivers, orderlies and canteen workers.
This is his account of that journey and their heroism.Originally published as For Dauntless France in 1918, this centenary abridged edition makes their story available for the first time since initial publication.
Laurence Binyon: Poems of Two Wars
‘For the Fallen’ is the most famous poem ever written about the First World War, read at every Service of Remembrance:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
Laurence Binyon’s poem about the London Blitz, ‘The Burning of the Leaves’, is widely regarded as his masterpiece, evoking the fragility of life in a city under threat of destruction.
Binyon chronicled the two world wars of the twentieth century with humanity, compassion and humility, in a series of remarkable poems that are brought together here for the first time.
Mary Borden: Poems of Love and War
Suffragette, socialite, novelist, nurse, Mary Borden wrote some of the most remarkable poems of the First World War. Still in her twenties, she used her own money to set up and run a field hospital for French soldiers ‘as close to the fighting as possible.’ At the Battle of the Somme she was determined ‘to create a counter-wave of life’ against an overwhelming tide of suffering and death. Her poems are spontaneous, passionate reactions to what she saw and did. Although married with three children, she fell in love with a young British officer she met at the Front. The intimate and private poems she wrote to him while they were both at the war have an urgent and reckless intensity.
Mary Borden features in major anthologies of war poetry, but this is the first full collection of her poems to appear, one hundred years after they were written.