Title: Legions of the Sun: Poems of the Great War
Publication Date: March 14, 2018
Length: 98 pages
Binding: Trade paper
From the Introduction:
This anthology, consisting mainly of American poets writing during and after the Great War, grew out of a text called “War of Words,” which I created for performance by actors from The Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities. It was composed to be part of the Center’s 18-month-long commemoration of America’s engagement in that transformational conflict. “War of Words” is just one of many performances (musical, theatrical, cinematic), exhibits of art and artifacts, scholarly presentations, panel discussions, book groups, and more, mounted at The Arvada Center itself and in various universities, libraries, and community venues around Colorado. The poems presented in “War of Words” constitute the first section of the book, with the second section comprising others that spoke to me but did not fit within the scope of that performance.
Although these poems are mostly American, there are international voices as well. They are here to reframe, echo, contradict, and challenge the assumptions of other voices in the collection. My aim was not to take a stand for or against war in general or The Great War in particular, but to listen for strains beyond the “sorrow and the pity” that saturate the works of those who fought in the trenches, where their ideals and hopes lay buried to this day. It seems to me that World War I created the thoroughly Modern world we live in now, and while the Trench Poets mourned the old world’s passing, others invested their hopes in the Modern version they saw being born. Nobody, I think, emerged entirely committed or confident in the value of the Modern, which may be why it’s illuminating to see it through their eyes. They are, after all, looking at us, and what they say about what they see speaks for and against our way of life.
It could be that these conflicted views are the essence of the Modern. The essence of us all who continue to live a kind of post-war existence, even as some larger war goes on around us.