We Will Never Forget, an illustrated poem, highlights the ravages of war, especially its effects on the land and those caught in the crossfire.
In a poem focusing on the damage done by war presumably in the Ukraine, although the country is only specified once (“Ten thousand Ukrainian women/ Defend the front lines”), author Gennie de Lange describes poignant moments, focusing on families, the landscape, and even pets: “The dog watched/ them disappear./ Took up sentry duty./ Prepared to fight/ Beside those left behind./ Scavenging for drinking water/ From hollows and craters/ Like everyone else.” The writing style is straightforward, making it easy to digest even for those who seldom read poetry or literary work.
The writing is accompanied by photographs featuring the author’s ceramic paintings and often including “the Observer”—a century-old Mickey Mouse doll de Lange’s father carried during his service as a WWII doctor—who looks on from the side or bottom corner of most photographs. The concept is moving: a 3D object associated with childhood and innocence against generally 2D depictions of houses, shapes, and silhouetted figures. The color palette is predominantly red, yellow, and black—colors tied to conflict.
Based on the “About the Author” page, de Lange doesn’t appear to have a direct connection to Ukraine, instead writing from the perspective of one closely following the news,and of the daughter of a WWII veteran. This affects the writing, which can feel distanced—an imagining of war rather than specific moments lived by the author herself. It’s also mirrored in the artwork, which sets the Observer—and readers—apart from the flattened world of the action. This distancing is exacerbated by the photographs’ impaired quality; they are often so pixelated as to be distractingly blurry.
Overall, We Will Never Forget is conceptually interesting, well-intended and poignant because of its subject matter, but it struggles to hit home.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.