Poems from the Battlefield captures unique aspects of the Civil War in Manassas and Prince William County, Virginia. Using persona, metaphor, photos and quotes, Gotthardt brings readers from contemporary park experiences back to the days of the Civil War, offering multiple perspectives and insight.
“Most of my context comes from hikes and photos I took at Manassas Museum, Bristoe Station, Manassas National Battlefield Park and Brentsville Courthouse Historic Center,” Gotthardt said. “But there are some personal metaphors built into the poetry as well, which makes the book especially meaningful for me. And, of course, there are certainly global themes that need to be re-examined.”
In the book’s afterword, Gotthardt writes, “In some poems, you might recognize relationships between past and present historic struggles with our current domestic climate of fear that prevents us from being our very best selves.”
Gotthardt said she believes that especially with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War (2011-2015), it is crucial we recall what the Civil War meant in terms of national legacy and how we should examine the Civil War period when analyzing our contemporary society. “We see the same patterns over and over again throughout history,” she said. “It’s too true–learn from history or repeat it.”
Gotthardt does not seek to relay details of history or battles. Rather, she says, she offers a collection of impressions, images, and emotion, as well as obvious bewilderment at how easily we invite our own destruction.
“War is tragic,” she said. “I want people to recognize that.
“I wanted these poems to be powerful, relevant, accessible and interesting even to those who wouldn’t normally look at poetry. And I wanted to deepen the experience by offering words and pictures of the people who lived at that time, because these people are part of our history, and they matter. In remembering them, we remind ourselves that they still matter and that what we do matters.”
Gotthardt is a poetry and prose writer residing in Western Prince William County where she enjoys exploring history, art, culture and nature. A former freelance, community writer for News & Messenger newspaper, she has taught college English composition online and ESOL at an adult detention center. In November of 2011, Gotthardt released a novel, Approaching Felonias Park, to benefit local homeless shelters and emergency food pantries. Gotthardt’s children’s book, Furbily-Furld Takes on the World, was released in 2010. Weaker than Water, a second collection of Katherine’s poetry, came out in April, 2013.
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