Over a series of four workshops we worked with a group of women from North and West Belfast to look at the First World War through poetry written by men and women poets about that era.

Poets included Mary Borden (At the Somme: The song of the Mud), Seamus Heaney (In Memoriam Francis Ledwidge 1980), Wilfred Owen (The Send -Off 1918), Helen McCay (Train 1914) and Paul Muldoon (Truce 1998).

What worked well and what, if anything, didn't?

Many of the women had a negative experience of poetry at school and initially were not enthusiastic about looking at the First World War through this media.

However, when they began to get behind the meaning of the poems, they began to warm to the project. Images such as surviving in the trenches, waiting on the return of a loved one from the war began to become much more stark and realistic. The poems provided an opportunity for the women to share their own family stories about the First World War, many of whom had not shared before.

Further Information

Jim O’Neill, jim@communitydialogue.org