War and gender

6 Mar

In previous years, I have taught a war poetry unit to Year 9.  For various reasons, including the creation of a new scope and sequence, I will not have an opportunity to teach war poetry this year.  Ever hopeful that an opportunity to do so will present itself next year, I still keep and eye out for interesting poems to add to the collection.

While looking for poetry about journeys, I happened upon Juan Felipe Herrera’s poem ‘War Voyeurs‘.  This poem appealed in that it explicitly engaged with the motivations for war.  In this sense, it serves as an interesting counterpoint to the poetry of Jessie Pope in which young men are urged to blindly head into battle.

It also interests me in that it explores war in explicitly gendered terms.  For this reason, it would serve as a good companion (again) to Jessie Pope’s poetry which often depicts the nation as feminine and thus worthy of protection.  However, Herrera’s poem goes further than Pope’s poems in that it seems to condemn the nexus between masculinity and violence more generally.  As such, it serves as a commentary on gender relationships just as much (if not more so) than it offers a scathing criticism of war.



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