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The Life of a Poem

November 11, 2011

Remembrance poem: No More

This poem was inspired by a poetry competition set by Alison Chisholm in the July 2009 edition of Writing Magazine.   The challenge was to take ‘a red, red rose’ as a theme because 2009 was the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns.  The words are from the opening line of his sixteen-line poem which starts, ‘O my Luve’s like a red, red rose.’  At the time the News carried regular stories of scenes of soldiers being repatriated in Wootton Basssett.  The majority of roses being thrown onto the coffins were red.  These two ideas fused in my mind to produce an appeal for an end to war:

No More

It was a rose, a red, red rose

that they threw on your coffin

when you returned from the war.

It was a rose, a red, red rose

but you, my love, are no more.

The poem was printed in The Northern Echo prior to armistice day November 2010 and mounted as part of Darlington library’s commemorative display that year.  In March 2011 it was accepted by Forward Poetry for their anthology The Colour of War.  The book was published in June 2011 as part of their Joining Forces and Poppy Fields collection.  Copies were sent to a selection of military bases and museums across the UK.   A percentage of entry fees was received by The Royal British Legion.

In October 2011, the Royal British Legion invited me to take part in a one-off Remembrance day activity to mark 11-11-11-11.  They sent me a cardboard poppy on which to write a message.  I wrote No More on the back and returned the poppy in time for it to be displayed in the ‘Remembrancetide Fields’ of Wootton Bassett.  An appropriate outlet for this poem.

I have since given permission for The Royal British Legion to use the poem to raise funds for war heroes in other commemorative literature/online promotions etc.  I look forward to seeing where it ends up next.

In Writing Magazine October 2011, Alison Chisholm suggests finding alternative public outlets for short, rhymed poems that tend to be more memorable than free verse pieces.  She lists pubs, restaurants, shops, bus stops, waiting rooms etc. as potential display opportunities.  She also reminds you to obtain permission first and to keep a track of where they end up.

I hope that this post inspires you to seek out new ways of reaching your readers and enabling your work to see the light of day.

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