A BOURNEMOUTH-based poet has joined hundreds of others in sharing their thoughts through an exhibition on soldiers serving on the front line.

Steve Biddle said he felt compelled to write after seeing In Our Own Words: Soldiers’ Thoughts from Afghanistan, created by the UK official war artist Derek Eland, at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum.

The exhibition features a collection of more than 400 cards and letters collected by Eland during his time based with the 16 Air Assault Brigade in Afghanistan – the exhibition was commissioned by Major-General James Chiswell CBE.

After its time at the Imperial War Museum in London, the collection headed to Bournemouth and with it came a new idea of a space for the public to leave their responses. Steve was one of the first to pen his thoughts on paper, to form part of the wall of postcards entitled In Your Words.

He said: “It completely changed my view on what life must be like for the soldiers and army personnel as the letters, cards, and poems give a snippet into their world. I just spent time reading what they had to say and it made me appreciate that no matter what politics is going on, they still get up each day and get on with their job. The amount of people who have engaged with this is amazing.”

Steve felt so inspired that he wanted to share some of the postcard writers’ words outside of the Russell-Cotes.

He gained permission from Derek Eland to have some of the letters copied and he used them as inspiration for an open mic night for poets to pen further replies in the form of verse.

“I chose 10 postcards, which I then read at The Winchester pub for the Freeway Poets night.

“I found that a lot of the soldiers were really good poets and writers and wanted to share that with others, before the exhibition goes.”

l Steve will next be performing for the free monthly Poetry Corner event at the Hotel Miramar, on East Overcliff Drive at 7pm on Monday, February 18.

l In Our Own Words: Soldiers’ Thoughts from Afghanistan will be at the Russell Cotes Art Gallery and Museum until March 10, 2013.