What are we fighting for? By Brian Moses and Roger Stevens

Published by MacMillan (ISBN: 978-1447248613)

This new collection of poetry explores the topic of war. Poems on all areas of conflict are covered, many with additional notes underneath to put the poem in context or further explain something.

Each of the three sections in this book- the First World War, the Second World War and What Are We Fighting For? –is introduced by a relevant quote from a famous voice which could lead to discussion. Covering a wide range of subjects, the collection as a whole is well balanced and thoughtful, tackling difficult subjects sensitively.

In the first section, there are many moving, poignant poems about all aspects of the Great War. Each and every poem here could be used as the starting point for further work, both fiction and non-fiction. Links could be made with novels or picture books on the same subject- for example, Christmas Truce and Michael Foreman’s War Game, Abandoned Dog and Dog in No Man’s Land by Damian Kelleher, etc.

The second section has a slightly different tone. Many of these poems feel personal- inspired by memories, e.g. My Father’s War- and some have a more light-hearted feel, e.g. Rude Noises. However, this doesn’t reduce their impact or make them less poignant. Again, there are many starting points or ways into further work offered here. Different perspectives on evacuation offer real potential for discussion and perhaps interviewing those who were evacuated themselves. 

The final section explores different conflicts, both personal and international. Thought provoking and challenging, poems like Spoils of War and What Are We Fighting For? are perfect for discussion and debate. 

This is a collection with so much potential for use in the classroom. There are poems for sharing, poems for discussion, poems for thinking, poems for enjoying.