On Saturday, I ran a creative writing workshop at the Gosport Gallery. Participants chose their favourite piece from the exhibition to use as a time travel machine to travel back and meet their ancestors. The results were surprising and deeply moving as people wrote about their own heart felt family connections to World War One. I was really inspired by much of what was said and the outstanding quality of the writing produced.
This photograph was sent to me by Rosa Johnson, one of the workshop participants, of Alfred (Jack) Piper on the day of his marriage one day before being sent to the front. He did not return.
Here’s a poem I wrote myself inspired by the workshop participants.
by Aoife Mannix
Soldier number seven thousand
found in a summer house.
A small tin box with the Queen’s chocolate
never eaten, a packet of woodbines,
and though they never knew
he died fighting on the Somme,
they discovered they had called
the latest baby after him. A name now
red tinged with family history. A visit
to a graveside, a pilgrimage of lions,
all that courage and waste.
The sheer ignorance of elephants
rampaging in rooms of secrets.
What afterwards was so hard
to put into words. Yet now
one hundred years on,
we hold that bloody uniform
to the light and remember
who they really were,
those boys engraved in stone.