Poetry and propaganda come to life

Poetry used to spread propaganda through the press during World War I will be brought to life at a special event presented by staff from the University of Dundee’s School of Humanities and the JOOT Theatre Company this weekend.

Members of the Great War Dundee (GWD) Commemorative Project will show how poetry and propaganda became entwined during WWI at StAnza, Scotland's International Poetry Festival, on Saturday, 8th March.

Dr Keith Williams, Senior Lecturer in English, will offer the cultural context for dramatic readings of WWI poetry performed by his colleague Dr Jo George and actors from JOOT before Dr Billy Kenefick and Dr Derek Patrick, founders of the GWD initiative, will close the session by setting the historical context for a propagandising poetry competition run by the People’s Journal in January 1916. 

“Contrary to the popular impression, many poets were initially enthusiastic supporters of the war effort and pressed their craft into national service, as it were,” said Dr Williams. “However, the initial romanticising of patriotic death in this ‘poet-soldier phase’ gradually gave way to a more disillusioned kind of writing under the unprecedented horror and scale of the first modern, total war. Traditional verse forms, language and attitudes came under enormous strain, leading to poetry that was much darker, ironic and questioning from experienced ‘soldier poets’.”

StAnza's mission is to bring to audiences the best of poets, and practitioners in related art forms worldwide. Over the years StAnza, now recognised as one of the leading poetry festivals in the UK and Europe, has featured a strong list of contemporary poets from within Scotland and also from across the UK and the rest of the world.

An Imperial War Museum First World War Centenary Partner, the Great War Dundee Project aims to co-ordinate a city-wide approach to commemorate the conflict in Dundee by involving the city’s museums, archives, libraries, schools, businesses, societies and voluntary organisations.

Also involved are D C Thomson, Dundee City Council, the Lord Provost’s Office, and the University. The aim is to encourage the broadest possible public participation through a series of collective reminiscence events. 

The Great War, Dundee: Poetry, propaganda and the press during WWI' will take place on Saturday, 8th March between 11.30am and 12.30pm in Parliament Hall, South Street, St Andrews.  Tickets cost £3.50/£2.50 and places can be booked online or by telephoning 01592 611101 or 01334 474609.


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Grant Hill
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University of Dundee
Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4HN
TEL: 01382 384768
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