Voices in Wartime began in 2004 as a feature-length documentary that sharply etches the experience of war through powerful images and the words of poets – unknown and world-famous. Soldiers, journalists, historians and experts on combat interviewed in Voices in Wartime add diverse perspectives on war’s effects on soldiers, civilians and society. In Voices in Wartime, poets around the world, from the United States and Colombia to Britain and Nigeria to Iraq and India, share their views and experiences of war that extend beyond national borders and into the depth of the human soul. The film and its curricula are now a project of the Charter for Compassion.
The film inspired the Voices Education Project and the creation of rich resources to aid in bringing the voices of war's witnesses -- veterans and civilians -- into the classroom, while helping young people find their own voices and spark their imaginations and actions to create a more peaceful and compassionate world.
Voices in Wartime brings to life how poetry and war have been intertwined since the beginning of recorded history --from ancient Babylonia and the fields of troy--to the great conflicts of the 20th century and the current war in Iraq. The stirring words of poets of the past - Homer, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Walt Whitman AND Shoda Shinoe from Hiroshima are combined with more recent voices: a Vietnam vet, poets in war-torn Baghdad, a poet whose family experienced the devastating war in Biafra. The poetry moves us to the emotion of war explained to us by soldiers, journalists and a doctor who have experienced the effects of combat firsthand. The poetry illuminates the reality. And the documentary reality helps us to understand the poetry. Together they sear the experience, emotions and sacrifices of war into our hearts and minds.
Voices in Wartime gives the gut-wrenching experience of war a fresh perspective. It steps away to look at all wars – not just the conflicts currently in the news. The terrible beauty of the poetry is our guide, distilling the grim realities and diverse emotions of war. History and literature have shown us that in times of war, poets can lead us to greater truths and that the power of poetry can help us understand the trauma, violence and death caused by armed conflict.