Voices in Wartime

A documentary film exploring the poetry of war

Watch the 12-minute Preview

Voices in Wartime is a 74-minute-long documentary produced in 2004 featuring 25 poets plus interviews with soldiers, journalists, psychologists and journalists. 

A Message from the Executive Producer 

“We wanted to make a film that could speak across generations, using poetry from around the world and from 2300 BC to 2003 AD, from poets both living and dead, to explore the trauma and lasting impact of war through the lens of art.”

Andrew Himes

Langston Hughes
Wilfred Owen
Walt Whitman
Emily Dickinson

The Story of Poets Against the War

In January, 2003, a number of American poets, including Emily Warn and Sam Hamill received invitations from First Lady Laura Bush to attend a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden commemorating the legacy of American poetry, and highlighting the work of poets Langston Hughes, Walt Whitman, and Emily Dickinson. Rather than accept the invitation, they decided to invite poets globally to collectively submit their poems as an outcry against the impending invasion of Iraq. Andrew Himes built a website and coordinated over 30 volunteer editors to collect and publish the poems that flooded in from scores of countries.  

Led by poet Sam Hamill and Emily Warn, February 12, 2003 became a day of Poetry Against the War conducted as a reading at the White House gates in addition to over 160 public readings in many different countries and almost all of the 50 states. Over 12,000 poets joined this grassroots peace movement by submitting poems and statements to the Poetry Against the War website, registering their opposition to the Bush administration’s headlong plunge toward war in Iraq.

The anthology Poets Against the War — edited by Sam Hamill with Sally Anderson and other — featured a selection of the best poems submitted to the website. Contributors included: Adrienne Rich, W. S. Merwin, Galway Kinnell, Robert Bly, Marilyn Hacker, Grace Schulman, Shirley Kaufman, Wanda Coleman, Yusef Komunyakaa, Hayden Carruth, Jane Hirshfield, Tess Gallagher, Sandra Cisneros, former Poet Laureate Rita Dove, and many others. 

The anthology Poets Against the War was edited by Sam Hamill with Sally Anderson and others.

About the Film

The Voices in Wartime documentary was in production from February 2003 — just before the US invasion of Iraq by the Bush administration — until its release in US theaters nationwide in mid-2004. The first footage was shot on February 12, 2003, when grassroots groups of the Poets Against the War movement presented thousands of poems to governments around the world as a protest against the impending US invasion and inevitable deaths, destruction, and trauma resulting from the years of conflict and violence that followed. The completed film included interviews and readings from poets around the world as well as material from the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq. 

The film was directed by Rick King, produced by Jonathan King, and executive produced by Andrew Himes and Alix Wilber.

The Voices in Wartime Anthology was edited by Andrew Himes with Jan Bultman and others.