Looking back – 26 Armistice

– Martin Lee

Our collaborative projects have always been at the heart of 26. The archive of those projects does sit proudly on our website, and can be accessed by members at any time, but we thought it would be a good idea to use the Newsletter to bring some of the classic projects more actively into the light. This is the second in an occasional series of highlighting some of the golden oldies. Given that November is just around the corner, it feels appropriate to remember 26 Armistice.

26 Armistice

As hard and invidious as it is to compare 26 projects, it’s fair to say that 26 Armistice has been the most important project we’ve run so far. It has been the largest scale project we’ve taken on, but also of course, the social and historical significance of the event in the UK’s national life during 2018 gives it a heft that marks it out.

26’s contribution to the centenary involved a collaboration with the Imperial War Museum. We invited 100 writers to write a piece of prose or poetry exactly 100 words long, with a particular twist – it had to start and end with the same three words. In each case, the subject of their piece had to be an individual whose life was forever altered by the war – they could be famous or unheard of, but their story had to inspire the 26 writer. We coined the word ‘centena’ to describe the 100-word pieces.

In addition to the written piece, the writer had to supply an image as a complement to the writing. We published the image and centena together, one each day, in the 100 days leading up to the official Armistice itself.

Revisiting the centenas again, three years on, is to be reminded of the sheer quality of responses from 26 writers. They are soulful, poignant, elegant pieces that provide a wonderful tribute from our organisation to those people that had the misfortune to be alive during one of mankind’s most atrocious wars.

You can read the centenas on the microsite here, but for a more permanent record, you can also buy a copy of the book from our bookshop here.

– Martin Lee

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