Memory and Memorialisation

Readers at the Psychoanalytic Poetry Day in 2014
L-R: Denise Riley c:Hayley Madden, David Constantine, John Glenday, Deryn Rees-Jones and Sam Willetts

On 27 September 2014, the Poetry Society and the Freud Museum presented a day-long Psychoanalytic Poetry Day on the theme of Memory and Memorialisation. Produced as part of the First World War commemorative programme, five distinguished poets explored themes of memory and memorialisation in their work through talks, readings and conversations with psychoanalysts and psychotherapists.  The day was introduced with a paper by consultant psychiatrist and writer, Stephen Wilson.


Stephen Wilson
Re-membering Isaac Rosenberg

Deryn Rees-Jones
Remembering and imagining: The Case of Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas, the wife of the poet Edward Thomas, wrote two memoirs after her husband’s death in 1917. Deryn Rees-Jones explored her own response to Helen’s life, marriage and widowhood in discussion with Judith Palmer. There was also a showing of the animation ‘And You, Helen’, made by the artist Charlotte Hodes to accompany Edward Thomas’s poem, and the book of the same name by the artist and Deryn Rees-Jones, published by Seren Books.

David Constantine
‘So many without memento…’*
in conversation Gerry Byrne

*David Jones from In Parenthesis

Denise Riley
‘Stopped Time and Rhyme’

Rhyme’s relation to temporality, and how this links to that feeling of ‘time stopped’ that you might inhabit after someone’s unexpected death.

Sam Willetts
‘Time Present and Time Past’*

in conversation with Ellie Roberts, discussing poetry and transgenerational transmission of trauma, nameless dread, and the presence of an absent object.

*TS Eliot, Burnt Norton

John Glenday
The Lost Boy

The history of the First World War has been a subject of ongoing fascination for Glenday. He offered personal perspectives on how poetry can redeem people from history, and performed new poems inspired by the conflict, including ‘The Big Push’, and ‘The Lost Boy’ which tells the true story of his Uncle Alexander, who departed for war aged only 15, and who died in the Battle of the Sambre on November 4th 1918 –the same battle as Wilfred Owen.


David Morgan (Psychoanalyst) 
Judith Palmer (The Poetry Society)


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