Tuesday, 30 December 2014

List of Female Poets of the First World War

I am currently going through my list and trying to add any poets I have so far missed.   You will find the list on the bar at the top of the page.

As always, if anyone knows of a poet not yet on the list please get in touch.   Thank you.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

German Female Poets of the First World War

It is always a pleasure to receive e-mails regarding this project and I am very grateful to all the people who are helping me to track down lesser known poets of the First World War.

Martin Zieren from Germany recently contacted Nicolas Detering on my behalf regarding statistics of First World War poetry anthologies.

I have received the following reply from Nicolas Detering and would like to thank Nicolas and Martin for their help in finding more Germany female poets of the First World War.

From Nicolas Detering
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

"I have just finished a paper on Ina Seidel and Agnes Sapper, both of which are listed on your blog. The article will appear in a collected volume on Female War Poets from Germany, which is due to be published some time in early 2015. 

Three female poets which you might want to add to your list are Ilse Frank (later Ise Gropius, see http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ise_Gropius), Clara Blüthgen (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clara_Bl%C3%BCthgen), and Margarete Susman (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margarete_Susman), all of them wrote a number of war poems.   Blüthgen published a moving poem called 'Vermisst' ('Lost') about the loss of her son Victor. Frank wrote a couple of poems about trench warfare from the perspectives of the soldiers. 

Incidentally, the most successful German female war poets by far were Ina Seidel and Isolde Kurz, at least judging from the number of their poems in anthologies. "

I will be following up these leads and adding the poets to my ever growing list. I hope to report back to you shortly with details of the poets suggested by Nicolas, as well as details of the book he mentions.

Friday, 12 December 2014

A Review of Volume 1 of "Female Poets of the First World War"

To read a review of Volume 1 of  "Female Poets of the First World War" please follow the link

I wondered why I'd been asked all those question.

Now - back to work on the list of poets, etc.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Marina Tsvietaieva (1892 - 1941) - Russian

Marina was born in Moscow on 8th October 1892.  Her parents were Ivan Vladimirovich Tsvetaev, a university lecturer and Maria Alexandrovna Meyn, who was a concert pianist of Polish and German origin.  Marina had a privileged upbringing.

Marina’s mother, who was her husband’s second wife, became ill with TB and in 1902 the family began to travel hoping that her health would improve.  The family lived in Italy near Genoa for some time.  Marina was sent to boarding school in Lausanne in 1904 and her mother, who wanted Marina to become a concert pianist, insisted that she study music.   After her mother’s death in 1906, Marina at last felt she could concentrate on her poetry writing.  1908 Marina went to the Sorbonne in Paris to study the history of literature.   She published her first volume of poetry herself in 1910.

In 1912, Marina married Sergei Yakovlevich Efron, an officer in the Russian Army. The same year, Marina’s Father’s project The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts was opened. The opening ceremony of the museum was attended by Tsar Nicholas II.  Until the Russian Revolution, the couple used to travel to The Crimea every summer.

Sergei went to fight on the Russian Front in 1914.   In 1917 he joined the White Army and Marina went to Moscow.  There was a famine in Moscow after the  Revolution and Marina’s health suffered and her daughter Irina starved to death.

In 1922, Marina and her daughter Ariadna, who had survived the famine, went to Berlin where they were reunited with Efron who Marina was convinced had been killed by the Bolsheviks.  In 1923, she began to correspond with Rainer Maria Riike.   The family moved to Prague and in 1925 to Paris.   Marina continued with her writing.   In 1939, the family returned to Moscow.  Her husband and daughter were arrested on spying charged and her husband was shot.

Marina died in Yelabuga on 31st August 1941.  Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich set some of Marina’s poems to music and in 2003 an opera about her was performed in New York – “Marina:  A Captive Spirit.” 

Here is a translation of one of Marina's poems:

I Know the Truth

This truth I know – all other truths must cease
Our useless struggle no longer can appease.
For it is evening and the earth by night will soon be covered
What are you discussing?  Poets? Generals?  Lovers?

The wind has softened and the earth is damp with dew
The galaxy of stars above will soon be but a few
And together we beneath the earth will slumber -
We, who gave no others peace but constant thunder.

Photo:  Google Images

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Knitting in the First World War

If only the book “Knitting for Tommy Keeping the Great War Soldier Warm” by Lucinda Gosling had been available two years ago!  This is a must-read for anyone who loves knitting and will also be of great interest for those keen on the history of the First World War from all angles.   Lucinda has gathered advertisements, postcards, cartoons and photos and threaded in authentic knitting patterns used during that war to end all wars.  Lucinda's book  has been published by The History Press, who have given us some wonderful commemorative publications so far this year, and you can find out more on their website:  http://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/index.php/updates/knitting-for-Tommy/

Two years ago, when I began researching this commemorative exhibition project, I got in touch with an old school friend who runs a knitting circle.  It seemed to me that we could get together and have an afternoon of poetry reading.  The group warmed to the idea and came up with all sorts of interesting items – gloves, mittens, pullovers, balaclavas, fingerless gloves, tea cosies and so on that would surely have been in vogue back then.  There was even a Land Army girl. 

The afternoon was a big success with 80 people attending, WW1 music, talks about the war and a chance to view some of the exhibition panels with WW1 poets with “Wirral connections”, such as May Sinclair, Wilfred Owen and Geoffrey Wall and the one about Nenette and Rintintin the Parisien urchins who were turned into lucky charms using scraps of wool.  Richard Speed of the Knitters and Natters Group in Louth, Lincolnshire kindly made me some replica Nenette and Rintintin dolls.  (If the name seems familiar it was the inspiration behind naming the American film star dog who was discovered as a puppy in a bombed out kennels in Lorraine during WW1 – see under “Fascinating Facts” for more on that story).

And to let you know that I  haven’t forgotten the main point of this weblog, here – with many thanks to the eagle-eyed Phil Dawes who is researching Great War poetry about knitting - is a poem about knitting written by Nellie Hurst during WW1:

I KNIT, I knit, I pray, I pray.
My knitting is my rosary.
And as I weave the stitches gray,
I murmur pray'rs continually.
Gray loop, a sigh, gray knot, a wish,
Gray row a chain of wistful pray'r,
For thus to sit and knit and pray--
This is of war the woman's share.
And so I knit, and thus I pray,
And keep repeating night and day,
May God lead safely those dear feet
That soon shall wear the web of gray.
Now and again a selfish strain?
But surely womans heart must yearn,
And pray sometimes that she may hear
The footsteps that return.
But if, O God, Not that.
But if it must be sacrifice complete,
Then I will trust that afterward
Thou wilt guide home those precious feet.

Nellie Hurst - published in "The Westminster Gazette".

Photo of the knitted Land Army Girl courtesy of J.Wright.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Aline Murray Kilmer (1888 - 1941) - American Poet

Aline was born on 1st August 1888 in Norfolk, Virginia.  Her parents were Ada Foster Murray, a poet, and Kenton C. Murray, who edited the “Norfolk Landmark” newspaper.

Aline’s Father died in 1895 and in 1900, her Mother remarried Henry Mills Alden who was the Managing Editor of “Harpers’ Magazine”.

Aline was educated at Rutgers College Grammar School, where she met her future husband, Joyce Kilmer.   Aline and Joyce were married on 9th June 1908.

When their daughter Rose contracted Polio, Joyce and Aline converted to the Roman Catholic faith.

After her husband’s death in the First World War, Aline had her first collection of poems published under the title “Candles that Burn” in 1919.  She continued to write poetry and also wrote children’s books.

Aline died in Stillwater Township, New Jersey on 1st October 1941.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Mechtilde Lichnowsky - Germany

With many thanks to Penelope Monkhouse for supplying the following information:

Mechtilde Lichnowsky (1879 Schloss Schönburg – 1958 London) (née Mechtilde Gräfin von ind zu Arco-Zinneberg) came from a noble family and was a great-granddaughter of the Empress Maria Theresa. In 1904 she married the diplomat Karl Max Prince Lichnowsky, with whom she had three children. Between 1912 and 1914 Prince Lichnowsky was the German ambassador in London, where he tried in vain to reach a political settlement with the UK.

Mechthilde´s first works Götter, Könige und Tiere in Ägypten, 1914, Ein Spiel vom Tod, 1915, Gott betet, 1918, Der Kinderfreund, 1919, were  influenced by Expressionism. Her early literary contacts included the writers Carl Sternheim and Frank Wedekind, as well as the theatre producer Max Reinhardt and the publisher Kurt Wolff.  Mechthilde also corresponded for many years with the Viennese writer and editor of Die Fackel, Karl Kraus.

After her first husband’s death in 1928, Mechtilde moved to the south of France. She refused to join the official Writers´ Chamber and consequently her works were banned. In 1938 she married a British Major - Ralph Harding Peto - but on making a visit to Germany in 1939 she was interned and did not see her husband again - he died in September 1945.

During her house arrest, Mechtilde worked on her critical book "Worte über Wörter" in which she showed the barbarity of the NS-regime through the language it used. It could not be published at the time, but did appear in 1949. During 1946 Mechtilde moved to London, where she lived until her death. In 1954 she was awarded the literature prize of the City of Munich and became a member of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts. Mechtilde died in June 1958 was buried in the cemetery at Brookwood in Surrey.

A.M. Emonts: Mechtilde Lichnowsky - Sprachlust und Sprachkritik. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2009.
M. Karl: Mechthild Lichnowsky: Die kluge Fürstin. In: Bayerische Amazonen – 12 Porträts. Pustet, Regensburg 2004, S. 50-65
A. Antoine: Mechtilde Lichnowsky. In: Britta Jürgs (ed..): Wie eine Nilbraut, die man in die Wellen wirft. Portraits expressionistischer Künstlerinnen und Schriftstellerinnen. AvivA, Berlin, 2002, pp. 230-249

Penelope Monkhouse (b.1952) is a German-British scientist living in Germany and is a granddaughter of the novelist, dramatist and literary critic Allan Monkhouse. Literature of the early 20th Century is one of her chief non-scientific interests; she is currently engaged on a comparative study of German and English poetry of this period. Penelope also writes poetry of her own and translates poetry to and from German and English. 

Photo:  Courtesy of View Images via Google Images:  Mechtilde and Karl in London

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Exhibition at Lytham Heritage Centre, Lytham, Lancashire, UK until 22nd November 2014

With many thanks to the hard-working band of volunteers who keep the lovely Lytham Heritage Centre going.

Their exhibition "Lancashire at War 1914 - 1918" has a section featuring some of the Female Poets, Inspirational Women, Fascinating Facts and Forgotten Poets of the First World War.

The Centre is open from 10 am to 4 pm every day except Mondays and the exhibition runs until 22nd November 2014.

Among the poets featured are Anna Akhmatova (Russia), Florbela Espanca (Portugal), Moina Belle Michael and Ella Wheeler Wilcox (America), Catherine Bridson, Agatha Christie, Winifred M. Letts, Millicent Sutherland and Mary Webb (Great Britain).   Lancashire's forgotten poet Lascelles Abercrombie is also featured, as is Inspirational Woman Mary Riter Hamilton the Canadian artist who went to paint the aftermath in May 1919.

There are also leaflets about female poets, writers and artists who served as VADs, nurses, drivers, etc., and about some of the best known WW1 songs.

The glass case you can see in the photo contains some specially created ceramic pieces by Lytham-based ceramic artist Marie Kershaw, who has also made some really lovely ceramic poppies, which I believe she will be selling in aid of a military charity.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Female Poets, Artists, Writers who served during The First World War

As many of you will know, I began this commemorative exhibition project in May 2012 for an exhibition to be held at the Wilfred Owen Story museum, in Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral in November of that year.   Now, more than two year on, the project has grown and the exhibition (with slight variations to the original panels as I keep finding more information) is still on show.

For those of you who are unable to visit exhibitions I started this weblog and have also put some of the information into print (and e-book form).

Some of the exhibition panels are on currently on display in the UK at the Wilfred Owen Story, Birkenhead, Wirral;  Salford Museum and Art Gallery, Salford, Manchester; Fleetwood Library, Fleetwood, Lancashire.  There will also be panels on display at the "Lancashire at War 1914 - 1918" Exhibition at Lytham Heritage Centre, Lytham, Lancashire from 5th November 2014.

I am currently collecting information about poets, writers and artists who served in some way during the First World War.  As always I'd be most grateful for your help in finding others. Here are those I have found so far:


Edith Bagnold (Great-grandmother to Samantha Cameron)
Maud Anna Bell - Serbian Fund
Beatrix Brice Miller - went to France as a Lady Helper with her mother who was a trained nurse
Vera Brittain - VAD nurse in the UK and Malta
May Wedderburn Cannan - VAD - Rouen, France 1915 and Paris in 1918
Agatha Christie - VAD in Devon
Jessica Stewart Dismorr (1885 - 1939) - Artist who nursed in France in WW1
Eva Dobell
Lady Helena Emily Gleichen (1873 - 1947) - Artist. Radiographer during WW1
Isobel Grindley
Cicely Hamilton - Royaumont - administrator; actress, poet, writer
Violet Jessop
Winifred M. Letts - served with the Almeric Paget team of physiotherapists
Nina Mardel
Naomi Mitchison - Scottish
Carola Oman
Jessie Pope - was a volunteer at St. Dunstan's home for the Blind during WW1
Olivia Robertson
May Sinclair (Travelled to France with Dr. H. Monro in August 1914, May had to return to England after six weeks due to shell shock)
Freya Stark 
Millicent Sutherland - funded a hospital - her work was painted by the French artist Victor Tardieu**
Joan Thompson
Evelyn Underhill (I am not sure if she nursed but she did work for the SSAFA - Soldiers, Sailors, Air Force Association)
Alberta Vickridge
M. Winifred Wedgwood


Mary Borden set up and funded a medical team and went to France 1915 - 1918
Amelia Earhart - trained as a VAD assistant in Canada 1917 - 1918
Mary H.J. Henderson lived in England and went with Elsa Inglis to Russia and Serbia to nurse
Elizabeth Nourse (1859 - 1938) ARTIST - worked in France helping refugees WW1
Marie Van Vorst
Edith Wharton
Ella Wheeler Wilcox - went to France in 1918 to read poetry and lecture to the troops

Grace Ellery Channing went as a War Correspondent


Emily 'Beryl' Henson (1887 - 1969) - poet
Mary Inger - poet
Iso (Isobel) Rae (1860 - 1940) Artist - joined the VAD in London WW1 - Etaples Base Camp
Alice Ross-King (1887 - 1968) - poet
Christine Erica Strom (1892 - 1984) - poet
Jessie Traill (1891 - 1967) - Artist - joined the VAD in London WW1 worked in hospitals in England and France


Stephanie HOLLENSTEIN - Artist who nursed, became a soldier, then a war artist in WW1


Henriette HARDENBERG - poet and nurse


Elizabeta POLONSKAYA - poet and doctor


Emine SEMIYE ONASY (1864 – 1944) – writer/nurse

With thanks to all those who have helped me - Martin Zieren, Phil Dawes, Penelope Monkhouse, Stanley Kaye - and to all the people who have contacted me since I began this project.

Remembering my Grandfather, Lewis Jackson, an Old Contemptible with the Royal Field Artillery who survived the conflic,t and my Great Uncle, James Yule, who was killed at Arras on Easter Monday, 9th April 1917 - the same day as the poets R.E. Vernede and Edward Thomas were killed.

Photo:  Exhibition Panels at Fleetwood Library - showing Ella Wheeler-Wilcox 

**  Victor Tardieu's paintings are on display at the Florence Nightingale Museum in London

Saturday, 25 October 2014

The First truly World War

People who have read Volume 1 of Female Poets of the First World War or attended exhibitions often ask me why I have included poets from countries such as Portugal, China or Brazil and so on.

I decided fairly early on that I would like to demonstrate the global effects of the conflict and therefore to include poetry from as many countries as possible.  As Britain's oldest ally, dating back to the days of John O'Gaunt when his daughter married their King, Portugal sent troops, equipment and medics to the Western Front to help Britain in her hour of need.  The graves of Portuguese soldiers are not under the care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and are a long way from Portugal so they are a little neglected these days.

Siam (today known as Thailand) also sent similar help, plus planes and pilots but I have not yet been able to find a female poet.

China sent a huge labour force that worked behind the lines and then cleared away the terrible mess at the end of the war.   There are many Chinese graves on the Western Front but I understand they do come under the care of the CWGC.

The tiny country Luxembourg contributed too - an 'ordinary' middle-aged housewife called Lise Rischard  became an accomplished British secret agent during the First World War.   I could not find a female poet but I wanted to include Lise's story in my project, which is why I added the section Inspirational Women to the project.

And interesting information caused me to add the section Fascinating Facts to the project.  For instance, an extract from "The Times" newspaper of a hundred years ago (22.10.1914), under the headline 'The Emden Reappears', to my mind clearly illustrates the global impact that began in the early days of the war.

The German Dresden Class Light Cruiser SMS "Emden" had been wrecking havoc among British shipping and costing Britain millions of pounds in lost shipping and trade. At that stage of the war, however, the crew of the Emden and other German ships behaved impeccably as true gentlemen and though ships were destroyed, their crews were saved.  As the writer of the report on October 22, 1914 stated:  'The accounts given by the crews of the destroyed steamers invariably bear testimony to the considerate restraint with which the Emden does her deadly work".

I was interested to note that, among the problems caused by the actions of "Emden" were:  "Burma isolated for a fortnight", the trade of Calcutta paralysed, insurance for shipping on the Eastern routes increased and the interruption of the Indian mail service.  That was before the introduction of submarine warfare that caused enormous damage and loss of life.

For the purposes of my commemorative project, some of the poetry included is not about war.  The main point of the project is to hold exhibitions and my dream is to have a permanent venue where I can also hold poetry workshops, talks, poetry readings and so on.   The books are for those unable to get to see any of the exhibitions but I hope they will also inspire people to commemorate in their own way.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Katherine Hale (1878 - 1956) - Canadian

With grateful thanks to Phil Dawes, who is collecting information about First World War poets, for sending me this poem about knitting - for all those who are busy knitting poppies, etc.

A tiny click of little wooden needles,
Elfin amid the gianthood of war;
Whispers of women, tireless and patient,
Who weave the web afar.

Whispers of women—tireless and patient,
"This is our heart's love," it would seem to say,
"Wrought with the ancient tools of our vocation,
Weave we the web of love from day to day."

Katherine Hale

Katherine Hale was the pen-name of the Canadian poet Amelia Beers Warnock who also used the name Mrs John W. Garvin.

Katherine was a poet, critic, writer, journalist and singer.

I will do my best to find out more about Katherine and other poems about knitting for those of you who are knitting items of commemoration of the First World War.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Madoline (Nina) Murdoch (1890 - 1976) - Australian WW1 poet

With many thanks to Phil Dawes for bringing Nina Murdoch to my attention.  I have now added her to my list - thank you Phil.

Poet, writer, teacher, journalist, broadcaster

Madoline, known as Nina, was born on 19th October 1890 in North Carlton, Melbourne.  She was the third daughter of John Andrew Murdoch who was a legal clerk, and his wife Rebecca, nee Murphy, who was a teacher.

Nina was brought up in Woodburn, New South Wales, where the family moved.   Nina first attended the school where her mother taught, then attended Sydney Girls’ High School from 1904 until 1907 where her interest in poetry and literature and her writing career began.

When she left school, Nina became a teacher at Sydney Boys’ Preparatory School.   In 1913 she won the “Bulletin” Prize for a sonnet written about Canberra.  She worked for the “Sydney Sun” as one of the very first female reporters and in 1915 her book of poems “Songs of the Open” was published.

In 1917, Nina married James Duncan Mackay Brown.  James was a former school teacher who had lost an arm.  Nina travelled the world, wrote travel books, worked for various newspapers and gave travel talks on the wireless – radio 3LO, which was later taken over by ABC (Australian Broadcasting Company) when she ran their Children’s Corner.  Nina also published novels under the pen name of ‘Manin’. She cared for her mother, who was blind and lived to the age of 105, and her husband, who was asthmatic, who died in 1957.

Nina died in 1976 in Camberwell, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

“The Bulletin” was an Australian weekly culture and politics magazine published in Sydney from 1880 until 2008 having been founded by journalists Jules Francois Archibald and John Haynes.  They published around 80 of Nina’s poems.

Portrait of Nina by John Campbell Longstaff (1861 - 1941), an Australian artist and official WW1 war artist.

Sources:  Wikipedia and www.womenautralia.info

With thanks to Phil Dawes for bringing Nina to my attention.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Roma White (1866 - 1950)

With grateful thanks to Philip Dawes for his help in adding to the information I had already found about Roma White.

Roma White (Blanche Oram):

Roma was born Blanche Oram in June 1866 in Bury, Lancashire.
Her father was a Woollen Manufacturer. The family is listed as having  five servants in the house in 1881.
In 1891 Blanche Oram was lodging in Derbyshire, aged 25 single and her employment was listed as ‘Journalist/author’.

Blanche  married Charles James Winder September 1897 in Chelsea, London.  They had no children

In 1901 Roma was visiting her married sister Florence Barron in Lancaster and ‘Living on own means’.
The Winder family were at Garstang in 1911 – in a 12 roomed house with three servants.

Roma White published numerous books between 1890  and 1910.  Many of them were reviewed in newspapers of the period.   During the 1930s, she published several children’s books under the name Blanche Winder (King Arthur, Aesop’s illustrated fables etc.).

Roma retired to Bournemouth where she died in June 1950.

Sea Poem from The Muse in Arms
First published in London in November 1917 and reprinted in February 1918, The Muse in Arms comprised, in the words of editor E. B. Osborne:  "A collection of war poems, for the most part written in the field of action, by seamen, soldiers, and flying men who are serving, or have served, in the Great War".  The story goes that Roma was out in a fishing boat in Poole Harbour and her conversation with the fisherman was apparently the inspiration for the poem.

News of Jutland
by Roma White
June 3rd, 1916

(On June 3, 1916, when the news of our sad losses in our first great naval battle off the Jutland Bank had just come to hand, I went fishing with a sailor on the Naval Reserve. The following lines are, almost word for word, a transcript of his talk.)

The news had flashed throughout the land,
The night had dropped in dread -
What would the morrow's sunrise tell
Of England's mighty dead?
What homes were wrecked? What hearts were doomed
To bleed in sorrow's school!
At early morn I sought my friend,
The fisherman of Poole.
He waited there beside the steps:
The boat rocked just below:
"You're ready, m'm? The morning's fine!
I thought as how you'd go!
I dug the bait an hour agone -
We calls 'em 'lug-worms' here.
The news is grave? Aye, so I've heard!
Step in! Your skirt is clear.
"My brothers? Any news, you ask?
No, m'm! Nor like to be
A fortnight yet! Maybe they're both
Asleep beneath the sea!
I saw' em start two years agone
Next August - and I says
We'll see 'em back by Christmas time -
But we don't know God's ways!
"I'll pull her round the fishing-boats!
The Polly's lying there!
D'you see her, m'm? The prettiest smack
For weather foul or fair!
It's just the ways they've builded her
As seems to make her feel
Alive! She's fifty sovereigns' worth
O' lead along her keel.
"Fine men my brothers war - I'll tie
Her up against this boom!
Don't fear to move free! This here boat
Is built with lots o' room!
You're safe with Jacob Matthews, m'm!
He's ne'er been called a fool
By any of the fisher-folk
As lives in little Poole!
"How many left? Well, maybe half;
They've gone off one by one.
It's likely I'll be gone myself
Afore the war is done.
Attested just a month agone,
And passed for fit and sound -
It's shallow here for flat-fish, m'm,
The boat's well-nigh aground.
"I'll throw your line out - that'll do!
Aye, fights on sea are grave!
There ain't no Red Cross people there
To lift you off the wave!
There ain't no 'cover' you can take,
No places to lie down!
You got to go - wi' red-hot shells
Just helping you to drown!
"It minds me of a night we men
Had got the life-boat out.
They'd 'phoned us up! And off we pulled
With many a cheer and shout!
We rowed her hard up to the wind,
And clear the moonlight shone -
But when we reached - you see, just there -
Both ship and crew were gone!
"We cruised around for half an hour!
Ah, m'm, our hearts was sore!
We'd looked to throw the line to them,
And bring' em safe to shore!
Aye! these blue waves ha' swallowed up
More finer men than me!
But we've been always fisher-folk,
And we can't fear the sea!
"Why, there's a catch! Aye, pull it in!
'Tis on your second hook!
Well, that's as odd a little fish
As e'er a line ha' took!
I've ne'er seen nothing like it, m'm -
Don't touch it wi' your hand -
These strange 'uns prick like poison, m'm,
Sometimes - you understand?
"I'll take it off! It won't hurt me!
You wonder what it's called?
I couldn't say! The rummest thing
That ever yet was hauled!
A farthing's worth o' queerness, m'm,
I'd name it if 'twas priced!
A young John Dory? No - they bears
The marks o' Jesus Christ.
"You'll see His fingers and His thumb!
Where are they? Well, a bit
Beyond the gills - look! Here's the place,
Just where I'm holding it!
So this ain't no John Dory, m'm!
I'll put it safe away!
You'll tell your friends you pulled it from
The bottom o' Poole Bay!
"'Twas better than a submarine?
There ain't such devils here!
We've got the North Sea trawlers down,
They keeps the harbour clear!
You saw a heap o' tangled wire
A-lyin' on the quay?
And thought as they'd just hauled it up?
Aye, m'm! That's how 'twould be.
"We're what they calls a' Naval Base,
Since this here war abroke!
You seen it up? Aye, yonder there!
'Tis hard for fisher-folk!
We gets our catches in the night!
But we mayn't leave the Bay
Save when the sun is on the sea -
You don't catch much by day!
"But we've our bit to bear, as much
As richer men nor we.
We got to get a 'permit' now
To take our nets to sea.
We starts at dawn - if tides is right -
And, when the sun be gone,
Unless we lie inside the booms
We'd like be fired upon!
"You want to see the mack'rel shoals?
They come in black as - see -
Yon house that's tarred from roof to floor
Just there, beside the quay!
My smack's up now by Christchurch steps,
I've got my 'permit' signed!
I'll take you out o' Thursday next
If so be you've a mind?
I shan't be gone? Not yet! I waits
Until I gets the call! -
If you'll come out, m'm, with the nets,
I'll promise you a haul!
You're safe with Jacob Matthews, m'm!
He's ne'er been called a fool
By any of the fisher-folk
The war has left in Poole!"

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Nadja Malacrida (1895 - 1934)

From time to time I receive e-mails out of the blue from relatives of some of the poets who have read my weblog.   This morning came a lovely e-mail from a gentleman called Malacrida who very kindly corrected Nadja's birth date.  So I can now re-post a brief biography about Nadja with the correct birth date.

Nadja was the pen-name of Louisa Nadia Green, daughter of Mr and Mrs Charles Green and niece of Lord Cowdray.  Nadja was born in Hampstead in London, UK on 15th June 1895.  By all accounts she became an accomplished athlete and also obtained her pilot's licence.

During the First World War, Nadja published three volumes of poetry - "Love and War" a collection of poems which was published in 1915,  "For Empire and other poems" published in 1916 (Arthur L. Humphreys) and "The Full Heart"  published in 1919.   All of these collections were sold in aid of St. Dunstans Home for Blind Soldiers* in London and The Star and Garter Home for Disabled Soldiers in Richmond.

On 6th December 1922, Nadja married Pier Malacrida de Saint-August, an Italian Marquess, with whom she collaborated on the writing of novels.  Nadja was also a broadcaster for the BBC,  regularly organising poetry readings which were very popular.   She wrote a syndicated newspaper column and introduced the idea of 'cuaserie recital' musical evenings.

Nadja took part in an early John Logie Baird television broadcast on 22nd February 1933, when from 11 - 11.30 television by the Baird Process (vision) was broadcast.   Sound was separate via the Wireless on 398.9 m. and the programme was only available in London.

During 1933 and 1934 Nadja was often heard on the radio - National Programme (193kc-s 1554.4 m) - reading extracts from popular books of both prose and poems, under the name Nadja Green.

Nadia and her husband were very popular in London's society scene and Pier, who had studied engineering at Leeds University was an interior designer, working on many prominent projects in London in the 1920s and 1930s.   They were friends of Cecil Roberts the author who lent them his country cottage "Pilgrim Cottage" near Henley while he was on a Greek cruise.   On her way back to London, Nadja's car left the road and she was killed instantly on 3rd October 1934. She is buried in Fair Mile Cemetery in Henley-on-Thames.

Source:  A day spent trawling various Internet sites, including The Times Archives and The British Newspaper Archive and an e-mail from Mr M. Malacrida; Louisa Nadia Green's birth certificate.

Photo:  Nadja Malacrida kindly sent to me by Mr. M. Malacrida.

* St. Dunstan's still exists but the charity is now known as Blind Veterans UK.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Exciting commemorative Poet in the City event Monday, 13th October 2014

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Modern Poetry in Translation
World War I: Poetry from around the world
At 7pm on Monday 13 October 2014
Hall One at Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9AG
Poet in the City, in partnership with MPT, presents an event exploring the poetry of World War One.Starting from the context of our own much celebrated poets, including Owen, Sassoon, Brooke, we move through areas of the conflict around the world and experience the war through voices other than our own.

From Apollinaire on the fields of France to Punjabi folk songs, from Russian voices to poems from the German trenches, we travel across frontiers and borders, and discover how poetry plays an enduring role in the telling of these human stories.
Andrew Motion
was Poet Laureate from 1999 to 2009. He has received numerous awards and has published four celebrated biographies. His most recent collection is The Customs House(Faber 2012). Andrew was knighted for services to poetry in 2009.
Sasha Dugdale
is a poet, translator and editor of Modern Poetry in Translation. Her most recent collection is Red House, (Oxford Poets / Carcanet 2011). She translates new Russian writing for theatre companies including the Royal Court, and RSC.
Stephen Romer
has published three previous collections of poetry with Oxford University Press and was the editor of the Faber anthology Twentieth-Century French Poems. His recent poetry collection Yellow Studio (Carcanet OxfordPoets 2008) was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize.
Amarjit Chandan
is a poet and translator of Punjabi, who has published five collections of his own work. His translations have appeared in numerous anthologies and publications in the UK. His latest publication is: Sonata for Four Hands, Collection of Poems (Arc 2010).
John Greening
has written twelve poetry collections, studies of British and Irish poets, and the recentPoetry Masterclass (2011). His most recent collection To The War Poets (Carcanet 2014) includes new translations of German war poets.
How to buy ticketsHow to find the venue
Tickets cost £9.50 if booked online:

Otherwise tickets cost £11.50
Box Office 020 7520 1490

For general enquiries or comments, please use our online feedback form or email

The World War I event takes place at 7pm on Monday 13th October 2014 in Hall One at Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9A.

map of Kings Place
Poet in the City is an organisation which creates new audiences for poetry through an eclectic programme of events, new commissions and education work. Charity Commission number 1117354, Company limited by guarantee 05819413. For more information telephone 0207 014 2812, email info@poetinthecity.co.uk, visit the website atwww.poetinthecity.co.uk or write to Poet in the City, Kings Place Music Foundation, Music Base, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG.
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Kings Place Music Foundation, Music Base, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG, United Kingdom

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

German WW1 Female Poet - Gertrud Kolmar (1894 - 1943)

With grateful thanks to Martin Zieren for researching and translating this information about Gertrud for me.

Gertrud Kolmar (1894 - 1943)

Along with Nelly Sachs, Rose Ausländer, and Else Lasker-Schüler Gertrud is considered to be one of the most significant German Jewish female poets. 

Gertrud Chodziesner was born in Berlin in Chodziez (in German: Kolmar) in the Prussian Province of Posen.  She grew up in Berlin and attended private schools. Her father was a criminal defence lawyer and her mother Elise, nee Schoenflies was from a wealthy merchant family. Gertrud grew up in a family that loved literature - her father had some of his work published in the local paper.   She worked in a kindergarten and studied Russian before qualifying as a translator.

Gertrud became pregnant following her first and disappointing love affair at age 18 and her parents forced her to have an abortion, causing a crisis and a suicide attempt.  This upheaval and trauma in her life increased her sensitivity for human hardships, which is evident in her first volume of poetry - "Im Herbst" ("In Autumn"). This was followed by a volume called "Gedichte" (Poems), published in 1917 by Egon Fleischel & Co., Berlin. Gertrud adopted the pen name of Gertrud Kolmar.

During the First World War Gertrud worked from 1916 - 1917 as an interpreter and censor in the POW camp Döberitz near Berlin.

After WW1, Gertrud worked as a governess and taught handicapped children.   She travelled to France where she trained as an interpreter but had to return home due to her mother's deteriorating health.  After the death of her mother in 1930, Gertrud took on the role of her father's secretary.

Gertrud's most important volume of work came after 1920, her last known work apparently being in 1937. 

Gertrud was sent to a labour camp to work in a munitions factory in 1941 and her father deported to a concentration camp where he died.  Gertrud was sent to Auschwitz where she died on 2nd March 1943 in Auschwitz.

In 1993 a blue plaque was placed on Gertrud's family home and a street in Berlin was named after her.

Here is an example of one of Gertrud's poems which I think is particularly apt.  For an English Translation of the poem, please see the website All Poetry: http://allpoetry.com/Die-Dichterin---(With-English-Translation) 

Die Dichterin (The Female Poet)

Du hältst mich in den Händen ganz und gar.
Mein Herz wie eines kleinen Vogels schlägt
In deiner Faust. Der du dies liest, gib acht;
Denn sieh, du blätterst einen Menschen um.
Doch ist es dir aus Pappe nur gemacht,

Aus Druckpapier und Leim, so bleibt es stumm
Und trifft dich nicht mit seinem großen Blick,
Der aus den schwarzen Zeichen suchend schaut,
Und ist ein Ding und hat sein Dinggeschick.

Und ward verschleiert doch gleich einer Braut,
Und ward geschmückt, daß du es lieben magst,
Und bittet schüchtern, daß du deinen Sinn
Aus Gleichmut und Gewöhnung einmal jagst,

Und bebt und weiß und flüstert vor sich hin:
"Dies wird nicht sein." Und nickt dir lächelnd zu.
Wer sollte hoffen, wenn nicht eine Frau?
Ihr ganzes Treiben ist ein einzig: "Du..."

Mit schwarzen Blumen, mit gemalter Brau,
Mit Silberketten, Seiden, blaubesternt.
Sie wußte manches Schönere als Kind
Und hat das schöne andre Wort verlernt. -

Der Mann ist soviel klüger, als wir sind.
In seinen Reden unterhält er sich
Mit Tod und Frühling, Eisenwerk und Zeit;
Ich sage:"Du..." und immer:"Du und ich."

Und dieses Buch ist eines Mädchens Kleid,
Das reich und rot sein mag und ärmlich fahl,
Und immer unter liebem Finger nur
Zerknittern dulden will, Befleckung, Mal.

So steh ich, weisend, was mir widerfuhr;
Denn harte Lauge hat es wohl gebleicht,
Doch keine hat es gänzlich ausgespült.
So ruf ich dich. Mein Ruf ist dünn und leicht.
Du hörst, was spricht.

Vernimmst du auch, was fühlt?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Jessica Dismorr - British


Jessica was a poet, illustrator and painter and a member of the Vorticist Movement.

Jessica was born in Gravesend, Kent on 3rd March 1885.  Her father was a wealthy businessman called John Stewart Dismorr.  The family moved to Hampstead in London shortly after Jessica's birth.

After studying at the Slade School of Art in London Jessica went to study in France before opening her own studio in King's Road, Chelsea.  She met Wyndham Lewis and signed the Vorticist Manifesto in 1914.

During the First World War Jessica nursed in France and then joined the American Friends Service Committee.  Her wartime experiences upset Jessica so much that she had a nervous breakdown in 1920, when her doctors advised her not to paint.   Friends however urged her to continue painting and exhibiting her work, which she did for the remainder of her life.  

Jessica died in London on 29th August 1939.

Picture:  Self Portrait by Jessica Dismorr from Google Images.

Source:  Wikipedia

Sunday, 7 September 2014


With grateful thanks to Martin Zieren who noticed that some errors had slid into yesterday's post about the German-language poets he researched:

"... thanks for putting the female poets up in your blog.  Some spelling corrections:  Anni Faber (scrap one e), Andrea Frahm (with m, not n), Sophie Luebcke (insert the e, since your keyboard does not have the Umlaut) OR press the alt=key and then 0252 on your numeric key pad, that's the Windows shortcut for lower case u-Umlaut, see http://www.nouilles.info/keyboard_shortcuts.html

Thank you very much indeed Martin.  I will add that to my List of Things to Do Today.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

More German women who wrote poetry during WW1

A huge THANK YOU to Martin Zieren who invested a lot of time and thought in finding some more German, and one Austro-Hungarian, women poets who wrote during the First World War.

I will update my list and bring you news of these poets when I am a little further along with preparations for the next few exhibitions.

In the meantime, this is what Martin so kindly found for me:


Marie Sauer
Marie Feesche (1871 - 1950)
Sophie Lubcke
Julie Kniese
Luise von Brandt
Adelheid Stier
Else Torge (1885 - ?)
Annie Faber
Ina Seidel (1885 - 1974)
Andrea Frahn


Marie Rudofsky

Many thanks indeed Martin for your kind help with my project.


Saturday, 30 August 2014

German WW1 female poet - Isolde Kurz (1853 - 1944)

I am indebted to Martin Zieren for suggesting I research Isolde, which I hope to do shortly.

In the meantime, Martin says:  "You may have heard of the German poet Isolde Kurz and her wartime Poem of 1916 "Schwert aus der Scheide" (sword out of the sheathe), where she puts the Kaiser's stance in rhymes (you know:   we were minding our business, trying to grow and get strong, 
but out of the blue the enemy attacks us, 
now we have to defend ourselves by the sword) - 

In der Halle des Hauses da hängt ein Schwert, 
Schwert in der Scheide. In seinem Blitzen vergeht die Erd‘. 
Wir hüten’s und beten Tag und Nacht, 
Daß es nicht klirrend selbst erwacht. 
Denn uns ist geschrieben ein heilges Gebot: 
Ihr sollt es nur brauchen in letzter Not, 
Schwert in der Scheide. Wir sind geduldig wie Starke sind, 
Schwert in der Scheide. Wir achten’s nicht, was der Neid uns spinnt. Sie haben uns manchen Tort getan, 
Wir litten’s und hielten den Atem an. 
Die Sonne glüht auf der Ernte Gold. 
Friede, wie bist du so hold, so hold, 
Schwert in der Scheide! Doch der Neid missgönnt uns den Platz am   Licht, 
Schwert in der Scheide! Feinde umzieh‘n uns wie Wolken dicht. 
Zehn gegen Einen in Waffenschein! 
Wer bleibt uns treu? – Unser Gott allein. 
Die Erde zuckt und der Himmel flammt. 
Schwert, nun tu dein heiliges Amt! 
Schwert aus der Scheide!"

Many thanks indeed Martin.