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Poetry: The Pity of War

Monday Nov 11, 2013 5:00 PM to 5:00 PM This is a past program

Co-presented with Britten 100/LA: A Celebration

In honor of Veterans Day, we offer an evening of the poetry that inspired composer Benjamin Britten (1913–1976). English poet Wilfred Owen, who was killed in battle while serving in WWI, wrote realistic portrayals of the horrors of war that were a shocking departure from the patriotic verse prevalent at the time. Nine of his war poems were woven with the traditional Latin Mass for the Dead into Britten’s great work, “War Requiem.” Embodying his abhorrence of the violence and destruction he observed during WWII, and his resulting pacifist stance, Britten dedicated the work to close friends who died in battle. This program includes readings of the work of Owen, Dylan Thomas, W. B. Yeats and many others whose poignant observations of WWI and WWII still resonate today. Selections will be read by Rosalind Ayres and Martin Jarvis, acclaimed stars of stage and screen.


Rosalind Ayres has performed many readings on BBC Radio in the UK and a variety of poetry and ‘Words and Music’ recitals at the Imperial War Museum and other venues in the UK and in Los Angeles. She recently played a serial killer in BBC TV’s New Tricks, an equally suspicious character in the final Poirot series and a mysteriously vulnerable woman in Moving On. Her numerous movie roles include Lady Lucille Duff Gordon in James Cameron’s multi-Oscar-winning Titanic and Elsa Lanchester in Oscar-winning Gods and Monsters. She starred in the Cannes Film Festival award-winning Beautiful People, and in Christmas in the Clouds. She has appeared in numerous UK and US television shows and has directed award-winning dramas for BBC. She has graced the stage in LA Theater Works productions, London’s West End, and Broadway. Ms. Ayres received the 2012 UK Radio Academy’s top award as Best Drama and Readings Producer for Jarvis & Ayres Productions.

Martin Jarvis is one of Britain’s leading actor/directors. His poetry readings are featured in the BBC program ‘Poetry Please’. He produced an award-winning audiobook, The Best of Second World War Poetry. Recent films include The Girl with the Dragon TattooPhil Spector, Satan in Wreck-It Ralph and Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon in the multi-Oscar-winning Titanic. He starred in HBO’s Funny or Die written and directed by David Mamet. He is currently shooting Cup of Dreams as Sir Stanley Rous. He has appeared in numerous LA Theatre Works productions as well as US and BBC TV shows. His audiobook recordings of Just William and P.G. Wodehouse are worldwide best sellers and his popular theatre books, Acting Strangely and Broadway Jeeves, are published by Methuen. Jarvis is married to actress and director Rosalind Ayres. He is invested by HM The Queen as an OBE for his services to Drama.

This series of readings is organized and hosted by Stephen Yenser, poet and professor at UCLA and author of A Boundless Field: American Poetry at Large and Blue Guide.

Poetry is supported, in part, by the UCLA Department of English and Friends of English.

All Hammer public programs are free and made possible by a major gift from the Dream Fund at UCLA.

Generous support is also provided by Susan Bay Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy, the Simms/Mann Family Foundation, The Brotman Foundation of California, Good Works Foundation and Laura Donnelley, and all Hammer members.