Reflections on loss and living

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Reflections
on
loss
and living
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screw READ THE POEM, SHARE YOUR IMAGE
AND BE PART OF THE STORY.

Birdsong

A POEM BY GILLIAN CLARKE

LISTEN TO THE POEM READ BY GILLIAN CLARKE HERSELF
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Gillian Clarke was born in Cardiff and was the National Poet of Wales from 2008 to 2016. She received the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry for 2010. In 2012, she won the Wilfred Owen Award and her book, Ice, was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Award. Gillian has written extensively and is currently working on Zoology. To find out more about her other works, go to www.gillianclarke.co.uk

Photo of Gillian Clarke

September silence. The blackbird's on the lawn
who sang all summer from the summit of the ash,
knew only a few acres of belonging
but held his ground, possessed it with a psalm,
the lovely Latin of a blackbird's song.

He sang in Auschwitz, though he knew nothing
of the mother whose sheared hair he stole
to bind his nest of moss, and mud, and grasses,
or her starved child watching behind the wire
the murderous purpose of the trucks.

Innocent, he sang in Srebrenica
from the spires of cypress, cedar, palm,
above the grave of slaughtered boys and men,
beloved bodies cast in despair's deep pit
and buried, nameless, without hymn or balm.

A bird's pure voice heard in the killing fields
while Cambodia's millions died, bodies thrown
like detritus into the wounded earth.
Now swallows in the evening air rehearse
their journey south over Rwanda and Darfur,

their flight and song remembering the dead,
telling their story. Sing their names like prayer.
Human, they loved once and were beloved,
heard birdsong, and words, our human song,
our shared claim to the earth, and to belong.

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Wall of Life

WALL OF LIFE

SHARE YOUR IMAGE AND BE PART OF THE STORY

Reflections on loss and living is a nation-wide project for Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, calling for your participation. Building on the theme for HMD 2017: How can life go on? this project explores living with absence and the roots of life through artistic responses sent in by you.

Gillian Clarke, the former National Poet for Wales, has written a poem for this project, to inspire you in your artistic responses and to help everyone take part. Please read the poem and respond by uploading a photograph, film clip, poem or piece of visual art to our Wall of Life above. You might be inspired by a particular line or image from the poem, or by the themes as a whole.

You could upload an artwork you create, or a photograph of something you see in your absence, cultural roots, the roots of a tree or life overcoming barriers - just like the theme for this year, there are few known answers and we are looking for your personal responses.

Click on any image on the wall to see more detail, and share this project with your friends. Like HMD, Reflections on loss and living is open to everybody - whether you have a camera phone or an art studio, you can take part!

THEMES

ROOTS

To be rooted is to be settled somewhere, belonging. A person's roots are entrenched in history and culture and place. To be uprooted removes stability and nourishment. What roots does life need to continue and grow?

ABSENCE

Absence can be a very present part of people's lives. How does life go on after loss? How do we live with absence?

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Images will continue to build this Wall of Life on this site leading up to Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January 2017 and beyond.

After HMD, some of the pictures you have sent in will be combined with the poem to create a short film, illustrating this year's theme.

Join the
Wall of Life

Upload your artwork, photos, text or videos and share your response to the theme with us.

SUBMIT RESPONSE
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