While a handful of visual artists have worked in the theatre of war since fighting began in October 2001, Armitage will be the first poet to be granted access...Others are less sanguine:
The planned one-hour documentary, Behind the Lines, is to be produced by BBC veteran Roger Courtier, who hopes to send Armitage to Helmand for a month. Courtier believes the tradition of the British war poet deserves to be reinstated: "We think it is a fabulous idea..."
A lot depends on how long a writer is at war and if they are a combatant. Of course, a poet can give the view of a sensitive outsider, but you can almost become a voyeur if you are not careful."
Perhaps in memory of the British massacre in Afghanistan in 1842 the new poet could just add an additional verse onto Kipling's immortal poem:
If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it's ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
And wait for supports like a soldier.
Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .
When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.