War and kindness commission
Posted on 24 October 2016
It's been fascinating to be involved with new commissions for writing workshops and poems as part of the 14-18 NOW, Norfolk & Norwich Festival, and Writers' Centre remembrance of the Battle of the Somme, July - November 1916.
On 15th and 16th September I ran two workshops on War & Kindness at The Missing Kind in Norwich - a charity dedicated to helping encourage kindness and compassion in society. There's a KindaKafe, KindaShop and they run kindness events, including mindfulness, meditation, and other workshops.
As part of the UK's national commemoration of the 100th anniversary of WWI, the aim was to explore the human stories about war and its relationship to kindness. Could a kind society ever go to war? What happens to kindness when people are tasked with defending themselves or others? And why does war often inspire some of the most extensive acts of kindness between people.
There was a lot of lively discussion, writing, looking at war and kindness from many different angles, and we used prose, poetry, journals and photographs to inspire responses. Participants ranged from young academics, to retired teachers, creative writers, a singer, drama teacher and meditation workshop leader. We focussed on crafting and shaping experiences, stories and thoughts about the topic.
BBC Voices made a film about the workshops and resulting writing. It includes me reading my commissioned poem 'Princess Mary Gift Fund Box, 1914.' There is also a short documentary about all ten projects. The films will be shown at the Imperial War Museum in London, and were premiered at Cinema City in Norwich on Armistice Day.