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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent modern anthology of WW1 poetry, 1 Oct 2013
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology (Hardcover)
With the centenary of the outbreak of the first world war next year, there are multitudes of books already being published about that conflict. The poetry of the war is available in many anthologies but what makes this one different and worth reading is its modern and inclusive take on the canon of WW1 poetry, and its brief but intelligent introduction.

The cover which eschews all those poppies and silhouetted officers in sepia tints announces its contemporary stance: while the canonical Sassoon, Owen, Graves et al. are here, this also offers selections from women who also, of course, served in France. The women poets here are especially interesting for the ambiguity of their responses to war: they experienced both the trauma of conflict and the secret excitement of adventure, liberated from the gendered confines of Edwardian England.

The last section adds in trench-songs and music-hall ballads, giving us a sense of the way in which popular culture responded to the war alongside some of the more literary reactions.

Kendall's introduction is succinct and sadly too brief, but opens up some of the ways in which modern scholars have nuanced readings of WW1 poetry, interrogating some of the well-worn myths about it. So this is an excellent new anthology that approaches this body of literature with some freshness without losing what is valuable in the `traditional' - highly recommended, even if you've read other collections of this verse.

(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deserves to be THE anthology, 23 Dec 2013
By 
Simon Tavener - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology (Hardcover)
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I spent much of my youth studying the poetry of the First World War. I somehow managed 5 years of it - including O and A Levels!

Our A level set text was 'Up the Line to Death' - which for many years has been the go-to anthology for the subject. It is a very thorough and well-structured but this new collection rivals it - and, to my mind, surpasses it.

It is more selective in the verse presented - with many lesser-known writers getting some welcome attention. This is particularly the case for the female poets who were very often overlooked at this time.

I particularly enjoyed the section of popular songs (a good number of which will be familiar to anyone who knows 'Oh What a Lovely War') but what really sets this apart is the excellent biographically essays that accompany the poems.

This really is a book that anyone with an interest in poetry of the early 20th Century should own.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent anthology, 9 Dec 2013
By 
J. H. Bretts "jerard1" - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology (Hardcover)
There are so many anthologies of First World War poetry to choose from. Why go for this one?

There are a number of reasons:

1. Tim Kendall provides an illuminating introduction, biographical information on each poet and excellent notes on the poems themselves, which are presented in authoritative versions. Without being overwhelming and academic the notes really help explain some of the references that might be lost on today's reader.

2. All the major poets are well represented but there are less known women and civilian poets included as well.

3. Some other anthologies only include poems written during the war. This one goes further , finding space for some moving post-war reflections by Edmund Blunden and others.

4. There are some wonderfully poignant music hall song lyrics as well.

Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, informative, expert, 26 Dec 2013
By 
Sheenagh Pugh "Sheenagh Pugh" (Shetland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology (Hardcover)
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This is a very scholarly, thorough anthology by a man who knows his subject unusually well, as any regular reader of his blog "War Poets" will be aware. The introductory notes to each poet, and the notes on poems at the back, are very full and informative; the chronology of the war years is helpful and though there's no index of poets, it can be argued that this is not really necessary; there aren't that many represented and the table of contents suffices.

This is because, as Kendall states in the introduction, he has concentrated on the "most important" poets who come within his remit of "poetry related to the War by poets from Britain and Ireland who lived through part or all of it". ("Most important", of course, is a judgement open to debate, but we'll come to that later.) This is almost the polar opposite of the approach taken by Vivien Noakes's "Voices of Silence" anthology, which concentrated on lesser-known voices to give a wider overview of the response to the war than might emerge from the well-known Sassoon-Owen-Rosenberg axis. Nonetheless the two have some principles in common. Noakes's anthology included several women; Kendall's prioritising of poetic quality does not, commendably, lead him to ignore, as some anthologists have done, the contribution of female poets who did after all live through the war as much as men did (indeed sometimes serving as nurses at the front) and whose take on it is both equally relevant and, in several cases, badly underrated by critics.

The real difference between the two seems to me that Noakes is primarily interested in what poetry of the time reveals about people's experience of, and response to, the war, while Kendall is more concerned with what effect the war had on English poetry. In this respect the context-setting in his introduction about how "Georgian" poetry is now viewed, and what it was actually like, is immensely interesting and informative. I had no idea, for instance, how commercially successful and popular the movement was; the first two of the five Georgian anthologies (pub. 1912 and 1915) sold, respectively, 15,000 and 19,000 copies (while The Waste Land was taking 18 months to shift a print run of 443). By the way, for all Ivor Gurney's throwaway remark that the Germans had no poets of note, the soldiers he was fighting did, if he had but known it, share similar enthusiasms; the poetic hit of 1913 in Germany had been Stefan George's "Der Stern des Bundes" (Star of the Covenant) and many German soldiers went into battle with it in their breast pockets.

There aren't many actual surprises among the poets or poems chosen; the major one, perhaps, being Robert Service, who like A A Milne could switch from comic to serious mode when he had to. The omissions, of course, are more problematic, as always in an anthology, and where space is at a premium I would maybe quibble with the inclusion of Sassoon's "Glory of Women", which, apart from being, as the introduction rightly says, misogynistic in the extreme, just doesn't strike me as a very good poem. The other inclusion I'm not sure about is the short selection of anonymous wartime songs at the end. That sort of thing fitted in the Noakes anthology for obvious reasons; I'm not sure it does here, and without these songs, Kendall might have found space for some of his more regretted omissions, notably Gilbert Frankau. I don't want to play the game of "who should have been in it", because no anthology can satisfy all comers, but I do think that even by Kendall's criteria of poetic excellence, Frankau ought to be there. If not in the very front rank of talent, he is not far behind, and because his take on the war was not quite that of Owen & Co, he has been often overlooked. He gives a different slant, which is why Kendall finds it necessary to quote him in the introduction.

Nonetheless, this is a thoroughly well produced anthology of powerful and fascinating poems. It's far more useful than some earlier anthologies that managed to be completely blind to the presence of female poets, and it also finds space for some longer poems, where many anthologies, from this or any other period, would leave you with the impression that nothing but brief lyrics were ever written. It also happens to be a most handsome hardback volume, with endpapers and a sewn-in bookmark and at a very reasonable price, but that's secondary. To me it perfectly complements my Noakes anthology: the other side of the coin, so to speak, and the introduction in particular is hugely informative.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good choice of first world war poetry, 15 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology (Hardcover)
excellent selection. I particularly liked the introductory biographies to each poet. While it concentrates on the better known war poets it does include the poems of women who were involved in that they had experiences with men at the front - as nurses or in a variety of other capacities.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Insights into First World War, 26 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology (Hardcover)
Brilliant collection of First World War poems. I really appreciated the introductions. I bought the book to study the Hardy poems but found new poets and poems whic gave added insight into the period.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I found tjhis to contain a very good selection of poets and poetry with useful summaries of ..., 7 Oct 2014
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I found tjhis to contain a very good selection of poets and poetry with useful summaries of the poets. As with every anthology the selection is Tim Kendall's and I miss one or two particular poems but I have other books to supplement this but it is well worth the price. For a paperback it is well bound and will I think take a fakr amount of use so would be very useful to a student. I recommend. It has a good set of references and is well indexxed. Deserves being widely read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book, good variety of poems, 27 Jun 2014
By 
BJ Warner (Mid Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology (Hardcover)
Wonderful book, good variety of poems, well known and loved ones plus some not so well known and nice that it includes some female poets. Background information excellent.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I like it, 20 Feb 2014
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Kris (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology (Hardcover)
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I've read countless First World War anthologies and this one didn't let me down either. I half expected this to include the familiar ones everyone knows so it was refreshing to be presented with well known poets but less well known poems.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent anthology, 16 Feb 2014
By 
Wiltshire Bookworm (Chippenham) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology (Hardcover)
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This is a timely publication and a selection which not only includes the more well-known WWI poets and their poems, but also a wider selection to include those penned by women.

The introduction and biographies of each poet are valuable. I was surprised to learn that WWI inspired poetry was penned well into the 1960s and some of the more well-known poets - such as Rudyard Kipling - were commissioned to write poetry as part of the war effort.

The inclusion of popular ballads and songs of the time also fleshes out the cultural response to the war across a wider variety of classes and people, thus making this anthology more inclusive.
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Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology
Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology by Tim Kendall (Hardcover - 10 Oct 2013)
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