Sunday, 11 August 2013

Today's Poet - Bing Xin from China.

When I started to research Female Poets of the First World War in April 2012 for an exhibition (which is on throughout 2013) at the Wilfred Owen Story museum in Birkenhead, I decided to feature less well known poets.  Most people seem to have heard of Jesse Pope (Jesse is the 'my friend' Wilfred Owen refers to in his poem 'Dulce et Decorum Est') and Vera Brittain and though I love their work, I wanted to give a voice to the others.   Then I discovered that many people didn't realise how many countries were involved or how many other theatres of war there were apart from the Western Front.  And how about Portugal - Portugal are our oldies allies, dating back to the time of John O' Gaunt whose daughter married the King of Portugal and we learnt to love tea and marmalade.   Portuguese soldiers during WW1 were apparently known as "Tonys".

That is why my list of Female Poets of the First World War is so long and why it is growing.  If you know of any poets I have left out please get in touch.   I am still looking for poets from Siam - which is now called Thailand - for they sent troops and medics - and Africa, Greece and so on.

And I still haven't found my two Russian women soldier poets.


Today's poet is Bing Xin from China.   Not many people seem to know about the tremendous work force that China contributed - they worked behind the scenes unloading ammunition and food supplies and water too - did you know that the water table in Belgium and France became contaminated very early on in the War?  Because of that all our troops, medical staff and their helpers (many of whom were women) had to have water from Britain delivered in barrels - just imagine the headache of getting supplies over The Chanel in ships with German submarines waiting for them.  The water then had to be boiled for drinking.

At the end of hostilities, the Chinese workers cleared away the mess.  The Canadian artist Mary Riter Hamilton (who is one of my Inspirational Women in another section of the Exhibitions) went to Flanders to paint the Aftermath in 1919.  She stayed for three years and lived in a little tin hut among the Chinese workers.

Bing Xin from China - 1900 - 1999

Exhibition at:
 The Wilfred Owen Story, 34 Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral, CH41 6AE throughout 2013 and at  
The Ace Centre, Cross Street, Nelson, Lancashire BB9 7NN from 15th August - 3rd September 2013.  
Entry free.

If you'd like to see an exhibition near you let me know and we will see what we can do.

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