Wilfred Owen poems to feature on interactive app

Soldier and war poet Wilfred Owen in uniform with a young boy, circa 1917. Picture: Getty Images

Soldier and war poet Wilfred Owen in uniform with a young boy, circa 1917. Picture: Getty Images

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A NEW interactive app featuring a host of verses by war poet Wilfred Owen has been released to coincide with the centenary of the start of the First World War.

Owen wrote prolifically while he was treated for shellshock at the former Craiglockhart Hydropathic Institution – now the site of Napier University’s campus. Some of the most famous poems of the 20th century were composed at the hospital, such as Anthem for Doomed Youth and Dulce Et Decorum Est.

Fourteen pieces he wrote during his four-month spell there are amongst 45 to feature on the app, created for mobile phones and tablets by Ian Bennett, a lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University.

He spent 18 months putting it together, adding original audio recordings, illustrations and commentary – alongside a written introduction by Peter Owen, the poet’s nephew.

Each poem was read by a woman, including serving members of the armed forces.

Mr Bennett said: “When I was reading one of his poems, for some strange reason I heard it in my head as spoken by a woman or a mother figure – I have no idea where that came from but I thought if I could get the wives or partners of serving personnel to read them I would take that artistic licence.

“I found them very moving and almost journalistic in the way he described what it was like taking a trench and having someone fall down the ladder because they’d been shot in the head – you got a real insight rather than just the artistic perspective.”

Owen was treated in Craiglockhart in 1917 and during his stay met fellow war poet Siegfried Sassoon.

He became active in the hospital and wider community, teaching at Tynecastle School, carrying out research in the Advocate’s Library and editing the hospital’s fortnightly magazine, The Hydra.

Owen returned to the frontline after his recovery and died at the age of 25 – after being awarded the Military Cross for his bravery – just seven days before the Armistice.

The app has already proven a hit in Australia, where a school has bought it to assist English classes.