When poets write of war, they usually write in protest. The recent invasion of the Ukraine by Russian forces bent on conquest reminds us that fighting against tyranny can be just and necessary. Many poets and songwriters have understood this over the centuries even if their works are in the minority. This episode of the PoJo Show samples such poetry of war. Only a little of it could be called pro-war poetry; some could still be considered anti-war even when showing sympathy for the fight; much of it simply considers the position of the soldier whose own mixed feelings of patriotism, fear, pride, courage, horror, and victory define the conundrum of war. As a song of World War I puts it, “The poets, since the War began, have written lots of things about our gallant soldier lads, which no one ever sings.” These are the poems and songs of those soldier lads who went to the lines of battle and risked everything.
The PoJo Show is a podcast by Batty Royale and Jedediah Smith. PoJo is short for poetry jockey, and what we do is sort of like a deejay/disc jockey on a top 40 radio show who spins a bunch of songs in a row. But instead of songs, we play sets of short poem recordings, some with music, some with sound, and some just naked words. For over 30 years, we’ve been collecting poetry and spoken word records, CDs and tapes, as well as making live recordings of readings. And we use those to make these shows.