Strange Meetings: The Poets of the Great War

Written by Harry Ricketts
Review by Doug Kemp

The relatively small number of British poets who have come to epitomise the experience of the Great War continues to exert a literary, biographical and historical fascination. This book recounts fourteen encounters before, during or after the War, when at least two of these poets met, with one imagined conversation. The most famous poets are included, as well as the better known events – Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon at Craiglockhart for example. But there are also other poignant narratives involving less traditional Great War poets, such as Roland Leighton and his fiancée Vera Brittain – as well as times when poets and writers towards the end of their lives spoke and recalled their shattering experiences. The jealousies, rivalries and friendships are narrated in an engaging way. This is a well written and absorbing book – providing both an accessible critical gloss of the poets’ work and putting them into their historical context.