A one-day workshop, involving year 9 pupils at Stoke Park School and Community Technology College, Nine Arches Press, and Veterans Contact Point took place on Tuesday 24 April (2012). A range of activities encouraged pupils to think about how the conditions of modern warfare affect men and women on the frontline and in the years following active service. They considered how soldiers deal with the daily stresses of warfare and how they remember their experiences of war, and how public perception of past and present conflicts is shaped by the media, collective acts of remembrance and history books.
The workshop included oral history presentations from three veterans of recent conflicts, including Afghanistan and Bosnia, as well as a talk from a Help for Heroes volunteer. These fascinating accounts stimulated discussion about what kinds of memories soldiers form, what they find interesting and/or distressing about war, and how they cope with the stresses of war and their return to civilian life.
Drawing on the veterans experiences and memories, a creative writing session with Jane Commane of Nine Arches Press encouraged pupils to explore how soldiers deal with, and express, the often traumatic experiences of war by writing them down in the form of memoirs, diaries and poetry. The pupils produced some fantastic and thought provoking poems that capture the emotions and comrarderie of modern warfare. The 'War, Memory, Trauma' poetry collection was published in June 2012, and a selection of the poems featured in exhibitions at the Coventry Mysteries Festival and the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum.