Memories of War
My granddad lived in black and white
And I in technicolor screens
Receive a wave of info light
Which somehow seems to miss and leave
Me less aware than he conveyed
The night he darkly spoke of war.
A thousand scenes have played before
My eyes have seen, but can not feel
Or smell or hear the battle roar
And stench revolt as spinning reel of
Flesh and blood replace the pre-commercial show.
Discreetly clothed the genteel warned
If close to naked fear revealed
The shapeless smoking surely burned
Young corpse of campus friend concealed
In mist of odourless appeal
Is hidden, pungent, raw and real.
Both generations look across
At time and tears and hope and loss.
Georgina's poem is a difficult piece in many ways, unpunctuated and syntactically fractured. Yet this technique embodies the poem's purpose: to explore the uncertainty of memory and communication. That ambivalence is notable for being expressed through an elegance of diction and a tightly controlled rhyme scheme.
A poem is not a place where we necessarily ind meaning, but where we experience it so that it becomes internalised as part of our own experience. The "big theme" of this poem - war - is encapsulated in a human relationship, which offers the reader a way in to its complex interior.
The poet and her grandfather live in different but conjoined worlds, symbolised by the idea of monochrome and Technicolor film. Georgina skilfully weaves her material together, taking risks as she goes, but leaving us with a moment of opportunity despite the underlying sense of threat and dislocation. It's an ambitious poem and I admire it for its refusal to yield to sententiousness.
Georgina Bruce receives Emergency Kit, edited by Jo Shapcott and Matthew Sweeney (Faber). Her poem was submitted by Zoe Farndon. Graham Mort, a freelance writer and tutor, is TES guest poet for this term. His latest collection, Circular Breathing (Dangaroo Press), is a Poetry Book Society recommendation. Please send poems, no longer than 20 lines, to Friday magazine, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX. Include the poet's name, age and address, the name of the submitting teacher and the school address. Or email: email@example.com