ABOUT DAVID ROBERTS

Page Index

Writing      

Beliefs/inspiration         

Web Sites  

The vital importance of war and peace issues               

The challenge of changed conditions         

Why Kosovo War Poetry was written

 Links        Link your web site to this one

More links Useful organisations and societies

Writing  -  Books by and edited by David Roberts

Lessons from Iraq, the UN must be reformed 24 page pamphlet published by Action for UN Renewal at 1-50. See More links above.

Kosovo War Poetry  -  published on the web July to December 1999. Published in book form with additional poems 24 March 2000.

Out in the Dark - Poetry of the First World War in Context and with Basic Notes  (editor)  -  published 1998, reprinted 1999 -  more details below.

Minds at War  - the Poetry and Experience of the First World War  (editor)  -  published 1996, reprinted 1998 and 1999. More details below.

All titles are available worldwide. In case of difficulty contact the distributor. See Contact page.

Earlier writing  -  see below.

A play  -  The Race Against Time Show  -  1981  -  not performed

Libretto for Chrysalis a choral symphony. Score by David Fellingham  -  performed at The Dome, Brighton, 1974 by Brighton Youth Orchestra, and the Longhill Choir

Libretto for New Creation, a cantata. Score by David Fellingham  -  performed at The Dome, Brighton, 1972 by Brighton Youth Orchestra, the Spider Miles Jazz Band and the Longhill Choir

A play  -  The Last Days  -  1959  -  Performed by students of the University of Sheffield, 1966.

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David Roberts has been concerned about the issues of war and peace for twenty years. He was Chairman of  Campaign for Justice for the Peoples of Yugoslavia. He is a member of the United Nations Association, on the executive committee of Action for UN Renewal, Sussex Action for Peace, Brighton Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Mid Sussex Global Peace Campaign and the Green Party. He is also a member of the WilfredOwen Association, The Ramblers' Association, and Papyrus (prevention of young suicide). He enjoys walking, foreign travel, live music and is learning salsa dancing. 2001.


Beliefs/inspiration  -  Why war poetry?

My main activity from late1994 to mid 1999 has been editing, publishing and promoting two anthologies of First World War poetry. What lies behind this interest is my belief that  the greatest issue of our times  is the channelling of human energy away from violent and destructive behaviour and into constructive, creative and humanly beneficial activities.

The poets of the First World War were amongst the first to write from experience and with uncompromising truth about the nature of modern warfare. Their testimony stands as a warning to all, their message only partly understood at the end of the most violent century in human history. I believe everyone in the twenty-first century should study these poets - especially Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.

What poetry at its best can do is encapsulate experiences, feelings, and ideas with a depth, force and brevity that prose cannot equal. Thoughts are more nakedly revealed in poetry,  the truth or lies much plainer to see. In times of high national emotion poetry, good and bad, expressing attitudes of all kinds, gives us a quick and powerful insight into the spirit of the times. For the student of history it is important, of course,  to study a broad cross-section of poetry and verse if a fair picture of a period is to be seen. Some anthologists select poems which reinforce their own views of aparticular war rather than represent a cross section of thoughts, experiences, attitudes, insights, (and abilities).

The vital importance of war and peace issues

War is the only area of human endeavour where conditions have become 
 immeasurably worse in the last one hundred years.  Suffering, death, 
 destruction, refugee crises and homelessness have been created on a shocking and unbelievable scale. Vast populations of entire nations and even continents   have locked themselves in protracted wars with weaponry of immense   destructive power. Usually winners and losers have suffered in equal measure. 

 It is almost beyond belief that humans, who have made such incredible steps 
 forward in so many fields, should have brought human relationships to a 
 situation that is worse than anything ever before known to man.

The avoidance of war, the promotion of peace, the resolution of conflicts by non-violent means, the fostering of non-violent societies, should be matters of major and urgent concern to all political leaders, religious leaders, and all people of goodwill throughout the world.

It is my hope that by studying war and violence we may, as human society worldwide, learn from the terrible mistakes that have been made in this last century and find ways to make the world a better, safer, fairer, more humane, creative, and enjoyable place to live.

If we can understand the truth about war we will crave the benefits of peace and seek and discover the errors that led to war and the positive actions that are needed to achieve peace, not just in the short term. 

It is clear that knowledge of war and peace was never greater than in the twentieth century, yet it was the most violent in the history of mankind. Knowledge must be applied. The task at the start of the twenty-first century is to influence those immoral forces of war which masquerade as forces for peace and turn their energy and inventiveness to manufactures and action which have a better chance of benefiting mankind. Unfortunately arms manufacturers and paranoid or aggressive politicians have undue influence on the media and their activities and extraordinary expenditures escape the scrutiny of the public. 

I find it shocking, at a time when money is desperately need for public services, that this year in Britain the Prime Minister can spend £5billion on orders for new weapons without anyone anywhere questioning whether the money might be put to better use? 

THE WORLD IS DRAMATICALLY CHANGED

A new world order is upon us - the challenge

In 1999 it seemed that any progress made by mankind towards peaceful international relations had been set back more than fifty years. NATO completely ignored the very basis of its existence (ie as a group of countries that would only ever fight in self-defence) and made a devastating, ruthless and sustained attack on one of the poorest countries in Europe. NATO countries blatantly flouted the Vienna Convention, the Geneva Convention and everything the United Nations Organisation stands for.

The stated aim of NATO was preposterous  -  to resolve an inter-ethnic conflict by bombing. Inevitably, the death and destruction NATO caused was itself a crime against humanity, and the ethnic hatred was enormously increased. (It should be remembered that the pitch of hatred at  the start of the bombing was only so intense then because the United States had hotted up the conflict by backing armed rebels.)

Serbia and Kosovo today are provinces in extreme distress and the blame rests to a very large extent with the leaders of all NATO nations. All are guilty. The people of NATO countries are guilty for supporting these disgraced politicians. The silence of the media and "opposition" politicians since the war is a continuing shame and very worrying. 

A new political order has, by stealth, come into existence in Europe. It is more centralised, less democratic, more aggressive, more militaristic, more ruthless, extremely deceptive, and shielded by media which are subtly influenced or controlled. A political awakening is needed.

Politicians must change or be changed. I feel that we have an urgent duty to work to this end. As part of it we also all have a duty to try to persuade the media to take up the truly important issues of the day.

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Why Kosovo War Poetry was written

Kosovo War Poetry was written as a spontaneous response to the war and events which followed it. Writing it was a way of coping with the very disturbing feelings I experienced -  mainly a growing anger that people should behave so appallingly, but also that the innocent suffered and the guilty remained arrayed in glory. It was and is an affront. The poems are just the voice of an ordinary man trying to set his thoughts down as a kind of therapy.

But the next stage for me was wanting to share these ideas and the insights I was gaining. I wanted to use them as a way of reaching ordinary people who might share my views, and who, like me, feel shut out of discussion of one of the most important issues of our time. The war is not over. Politicians will be judged by the people. Eventually justice and peace will develop in the Balkans. And it is possible that a peaceful world may develop.

No politicians to represent my views

I often feel alone in my beliefs. I did not know when I was writing the poems that there had been big demonstrations in this country against the war.  I believe there must be many thousands if not millions of people like me who feel disenfranchised by politicians, world leaders, and the small group of faceless individuals who acted swiftly to engage in a war which had been mis-explained to their electorates and in contradiction to the traditions, laws and accepted practices of their countries. No NATO politician had been elected to engage in such a war. There had no democratic mandate. Though discredited, all these politicians hold office today, unchallenged.

Now there seems to be no-one we can vote for who espouses a moral, legal and sane view on the topic of international relations. Such people must be found.

Since the war NATO leaders have managed to protect themselves from criticism with the help of the controllers of the mass media. Nowhere is there in-depth, truly informed scrutiny of the build-up to the war, its conduct, or the aftermath. 

Extensive reading and attending seminars has taught me that the situation in Yugoslavia was far worse than I understood from what the popular media revealed and that NATO's preparations for war could not be counted as diplomacy at all, but as a calculated plot made by cynical people determined to flout international law, morality and even plain common sense. 

It is a scandal that these people stand before the world, apparently guilty of the most serious crimes against international law, natural justice and humanity. They should be tried, account for their actions, and if found guilty removed from office in disgrace.

DR


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Latest (November 2004)

Lessons from Iraq, the UN must be Reformed, a 24 page pamphlet which explains some of the reasons the world has lost confidence in the UN Security Council, and proposing practical reforms and remedies needed to restore public confidence. Published by Action for UN Renewal. Available from Action for UN Renewal, 46 Brixton Hill Court, BRIXTON HILL, LONDON  SW2 1QY  Price £1-50 (includes postage). Cheques should be made payable to Action for UN Renewal.

Web site: www.action-for-un-renewal.org.uk

War Poetry Posters  -   Details are now posted on this web site.

Link your web site to this one. 

If you share my concerns and interests please let me know and I will put  a link on this site to your site. (Email me the details.) See our separate links page available from the First World War index page.

I would appreciate it if you would link your web site to this one. All you need to do is cut and paste the next paragraph.

For war poetry of the First World War, Iraq, Falklands, Sierra Leone and Vietnam: www.warpoetry.co.uk

Links

Supporting the United Nations whilst believing it should be reformed to bring all member countries into line with the principles and aims set out in the Charter of the United Nations: Action for UN Renewal: www.action-for-un-renewal.org.uk

Promoting citizens' participation in a sustainable world www.ourworldoursay.org

The Movement for the Advancement of International Criminal Law http://ban.joh.cam.ac.uk/~maicl/

World Court Project UK http://www.gn.apc.org/wcp

International Action Centre  -  See War Criminals section  -  www.iacenter.org

NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia -  an analysis www.justiceyugoslavia.org

Write to David Roberts by email at

Kosovo War Poetry Index Page

To First World War 

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