William Allen

Sevastopol: On Photographs of War

ISBN 1-879378-29-9 (paper) 
90 pages, $15




Poems written in response to photographs of war, from the earliest days of photography to the television broadcasts of our times. We see, in passing, the Crimean War of 1854, the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, Vietnam and tragedies of unnamed wars today. Some of the photographers are famous
Mathew Brady, Ansel Adams; many are not; most are anonymous.

One photographer Kevin Carter, who snapped a picture of a starving child with a vulture waiting in the background committed suicide, no doubt overwhelmed by what he saw. For each photograph, the poet William Allen allows himself a 100-word response. We look at the photograph on the left page, form our own impressions and then compare them with what the poet felt and expressed on the right page. In this way, one by one, we are led on a tour through sombre moments of history, yet at the same time come in touch with our private psychological and political mappings of life at risk. The power of word and image together makes Sevastopol an unusual and moving poetic experience, linking us with those who did not escape the horrors and misery of man's most grisly occupation.

"William Allen's book of poems, based on photographs of war and its aftermath, is a book of profound conscience. It conveys deep understanding of the inhumane folly of war and its useless, needless sufferings in vivid language which augments stark visual imagery. Sevastopol is the work of an outraged heart wrought with emotive power--an important book."     
                                       ~ Daniela Gioseffi, author of Women and War




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