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This report is taken from PN Review 222, Volume 41 Number 4, March - April 2015.

Poetry Field Postcards Vahni Capildeo
To the Titled Organisers, Introducers of Events, and Obtainers of Funding: devoted greetings. I am pleased if a little perplexed to receive your invitation to contribute some work to a World War I centenary project. First, if poetry is defined as work, could you clarify the conditions under which the work should be done? Aspirin and ink cartridges are not allowable expenses, but how about trips to London? Second, you may know that there are poems of mine in recent anthologies on peace, and on silenced women (all profits to Rape Crisis). Yet somehow from the tone of your invitation I understand that neither rape nor peace may be expected in my war submission; though at least one of the other poets commissioned is bound to touch on such topics – every project needs a shocker. Third, I believe a certain amount of poetry was written before, during and after the Great War itself, and I am unsure how to claim to respond, or pretend to add, to this corpus. O Memory, O Material Culture, come to my aid, for my powers fail.


I. Nothing is to be written on this except the date and signature of the sender. Sentences not required may be erased. If anything else is added the postcard will be destroyed.

I have had a book published.

I have been shortlisted for a prize
{to the indifference of my friends and family}
and hope to be on a radio show.

{controversially} and will change my Twitter handle soon.


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