In 2019, the trustees of COFEPOW initiated a drive to collate as many poems written by FEPOWs and their families as possible, to create an anthology of poetry. The collection featured over 80 poems, many of which were written during captivity or based on recollections or emotions experienced by close family since the war. Published under the title “Poems of Hope”, it went on sale via the merchandising office at £11.99 and has sold well to raise funds for the charity.
A second volume is being assessed for viability and is hoped to contain not only poetry by captives, but also stories, and thoughts or memories of loved ones in poetry form.
Merchandising Officers, Nick and Sylvie Bullen-Bell are asking for contributions of any new or freshly discovered poetry to be included. Any originals will be returned, but in the interests of protecting family heirlooms, they would prefer if rewritten or typed contributions could be submitted.
If you would like to provide any poems, please contact them at the merchandise site by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 01245 222 604 / mobile 07721 067501 OR by clicking on the button above and submitting your poem.
Poems of Hope Volume I
A poignant, often emotional and always thought-provoking collection of poems written by Far-East Prisoners of War during and after incarceration by Japanese forces in the Second World War, or by their families since.
Published to coincide with the 75th anniversary of VJ Day, August 15th 2020.
Compiled over many months by COFEPOW (Children and Families of Far-East Prisoners of War), this first ever anthology of its kind has been meticulously designed and curated by volunteers within the charity. The work incorporates almost 90 poems, written by FEPOWs held captive by one of history’s most brutal enemies, or whilst trying to forget the horror following their return home. Some, too, have been composed by wives, children and grandchildren, inspired to put pen to paper by their relatives’ stoic resolve.
Newly published, this hardback first volume features poems by 36 different authors, lovingly transcribed very often from the scribbles of men at their most desperate. Starved, beaten, worked almost to death whilst racked with disease, they never gave up hope, despite incarceration on ‘death railways,’or in the gaols, mines, docks and factories of their country’s enemy during the 1941-1945 Pacific war.
The anthology has been painstakingly assembled from a number of sources, including Cambridge University library, COFEPOW archives and family treasures, and features a preface by Terry Waite, moving testimonies and an array of photographs and illustrations from a number of pertinent sources. Issued to coincide with the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day,the book will be a permanent memento for all those fascinated by the human condition and for students of hope above adversity. It will be required reading for those with a keen interest in the British and Commonwealth military experience and for all families of FEPOWs,who know full well the consequences of their relatives’ suffering. It will also become an important addition to the home libraries of those who share a compassion for these men-at-arms so horrifically abused under the guise of an enemy’s medieval honour code.
Free* with every copy of the anthology ordered - VJ-Day 70 official DVD, normal price £10.95!(*while stocks last).
"In reading this anthology, I was brought close to tears,both of sadness and of joy.Sadness at the depth to which the human species can sink, and joy at the recognition that at the end of the day, suffering need not destroy."
Terry Waite CBE
The extended version of this foreword can be found in the anthology.