In June 1942, in order to train for D-Day, five Breckland villages were chosen for requisition by the Armed Forces and residents were given less than 21 days to leave their land and homes. As one village’s school mistress put it, ‘The war had taken our husbands and now our homes and way of life was to go’.
Real and imaginary villagers who gave up their homes and their land for what would have been described as ‘the war effort’ appear in this sequence of poems for the Cafe Writers Norfolk commission. Poems and original pre-requisition photographs of villagers and village life bring to light a significant episode in Norfolk history which has nevertheless been almost entirely forgotten by the subsequent two generations.
Bloodaxe poet Esther Morgan describes the collection thus: ‘Broadcasting is less about remembrance than the way we forget… the slow erasure of local customs, sayings and memories. Just as the bricks and mortar of once-loved homes are taken back by the landscape, “asleep with bramble”; what’s left are glimpses and fragments – the smell of russet apples, the gritty texture of rabbit picked from the bone, the “sweet twirl” of a folk dance – but these only serve to emphasise the sense of absence in these poignant poems (which) reveal the hidden casualties of a war we thought we knew.’
Posted 8 years ago