How can one who has not lived through war ever know how it feels to be thrown into a huge mass of hurt that subsumes all of its constituent parts? And how can one who has lived through it pass on what one saw to those who have not?
Five One’s latest theme is about writers’ first encounter with war. In some cases, war provided the inspiration for their first encounter with writing, too.
These young men took in their awful new surroundings, and turned the pain either into beauty and healing, or into further desperation and confusion. War – its novelty, its promise, its trauma – then fed through all of their work. Because to them, war meant growing up.
It made these writers ask, as Louis Aragon does in his poem Bierstube German Magic, “is this how men live?”
London, 5 March 2016
Our selection of poetry, music and art for all five weeks of this theme is available by clicking on the tabs above or through the links below: