It’s not coincidental that one of my favorite words is serendipity, “the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.” The journey of writing, editing, and publishing International Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology of Lost Voices has been a circuitous one along twisting roads and unmarked paths, and I am grateful to everyone who has provided direction and sustenance along the way. This book would not have been possible if not for the support of so many who contributed to the surprising discoveries that are at the heart of the anthology.
The kindness of strangers was one of the best of these discoveries, such as the generous review provided by the poet Ian McMillan:
Here is a superb anthology and work of scholarship that, in an astonishing feat of literary archaeology, cuts through the smoke and noise of the First World War to present us with poems that have been hidden in history's unforgiving mud for far too long. The poems are illuminated and set in context, and I hope that they will now take their place alongside the small number of First World War poems that everyone knows so well. Here is poetry’s abundance in the face of horror.
What McMillan describes as “literary archaeology” often felt more like happy mudlarking as I searched the foreshore of archives and second-hand bookshops with an eye to spotting poems that were lost, discarded, or forgotten. Some of the finds are rather ordinary, perhaps even common, yet they tell rich stories about the past. Others are true treasures, but it is the search and excavation that have offered such delight. This project’s work has been a happy adventure, and it is my hope that readers will encounter the same pleasures of serendipitous discovery, finding valuable and agreeable voices, histories, and poems in this collection.
International Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology of Lost Voices is published by Bloomsbury Academic Press. It can be ordered online at www.bloomsbury.com at a 35% savings by entering the discount code GLR TW5 on the first page at checkout.