Poems for Heroes: Call for submissions starts on National Poetry Day – 7 October 2010
Rhona Jack, resident of Wootton Bassett, PR consultant and closet poet, is launching a call for submissions for poems for a book designed to fundraise for UK military charity Help for Heroes. The poems can be on a variety of subjects such as Courage, Bravery, Friendship on the Front Line, Banter in the Mess, Sentry Duty, Beyond the Call of Duty, Rules of Engagement, The Aftermath of War and so on. The objective is not to leave people depressed by the subject matter, but to provide an insight into the daily working lives and inner world of those who risk life and limb for Queen and Country
The call for submissions coincides with National Poetry Day, 7 October 2010. Closing date for submissions is midnight on 31 December 2010, with a view to the publication of a collection of 100 poems in May 2011 to coincide with the Swindon Festival of Literature.
Explaining the concept behind the collection of poems, Rhona Jack is particularly (but not only) inviting work from friends and families of serving and fallen military personnel. Any submissions from servicemen and women will need clearance from the MOD before publication. It is important that poems are not simply anti-war, since Help for Heroes is non-political and that would not help the fundraising cause.
Last year on 11 November, Rhona Jack attended a repatriation service and was moved to write a poem to capture the atmosphere. When talking afterwards with servicemen who had come to pay their respects to those repatriated that day, including two of their dear friends, her poem brought these two burly, forty-something year old Royal Grenadier Guards to tears. They made her promise to publish her work. Rhona was also asked to read some of her work at the Festival of Remembrance at the Wyvern Theatre 2009 and was encouraged when someone from RAF Lyneham requested a copy of her poem.
According to statistics, over 40% of the UK prison population and 40% of those homeless on the streets of London are ex-servicemen who have been unable to fit back into civilian life. For many, family relationships deteriorate and they cannot find a way back into routine life.
Since November 2009, Rhona has provided PR consultancy and work free of charge for Mike Buss, the endurance athlete who is breaking world records to fundraise for Help for Heroes. She explains ‘I asked myself what I could do uniquely and personally to support Help for Heroes. I have been told I have a gift for writing poetry so I want to use it to help others on their journey to Hope, Health and Healing. I believe it is really important for people to understand the legacy of war. Our Armed Forces are achieving significant landmarks in the battles in Afghanistan, which I have no intention of undermining. However, the fact remains we need to care for bereaved families and understand how war can affect some military personnel returning from the front, if they are unable to come to terms with things they may have seen and done’.
She continues ‘We are forever grateful for servicemen and women who sign up and fight to protect the security and safety of citizens of this country. Whilst they do know what they sign up for, inevitably some find their lives changed beyond recognition as they have to deal with injuries and amputations. Perhaps worse can be the inner turmoil which haunts the soul.’
‘We must not forget these people. They made sacrifices for us and I believe we owe them the dignity of understanding, loving and accepting them as they are. This will come more freely as society gains a better understanding of what they go through. And that is where poetry can come in as it unlocks the inner world.’
Regarding timing, Rhona believes the year ahead is particularly poignant. RAF Lyneham is due to close in 2012 with the last planes expected to cease operating from the base around late 2011. Rhona lives under the flight path of Hercules aircraft returning from Operations and recalls both journalist John McCarthy and Special Envoy Terry Waite flying overhead and then appearing immediately on live national TV as they descended from their planes
Wootton Bassett has achieved worldwide notoriety for the repatriations of British servicemen killed in action inAfghanistan. Scenes of the repatriations have been beamed around the world by the BBC, ITN, CNN and SKY Television. What began as a simple ceremony of locals and fellow servicemen paying their respects to fallen comrades, has captured the imagination of millions of people and now speaks for a country who honours our fallen service personnel.
If you would like to submit a poem to help fundraise for Help for Heroes, please see www.blueclickpr.com/news further details. Alternatively email email@example.com to express your interest and receive news of future developments of this project. Rhona is setting up a website and looking for military personnel who would be willing to sanity check poems to ensure they do not offend or misrepresent our service personnel.