Throughout the seventeen months of its publication, The Stars and Stripes dedicated a significant amount of space to soldier-authored material. In the first issue an advertisement asking soldiers for their contributions read: "If You Are a Writer: Send Us Copy. If You Are an Artist: Send Us Pictures" (February 8, 1918, p. 5, col. 5).*
The newspaper's editors appreciated the poetry and sentimental ballads typical of the period. Poetry appeared in every issue of The Stars and Stripes. Although the newspaper occasionally published reprints of the poetry of famous poets, the soldiers themselves wrote most of the poems. "The Army's Poets" column was inaugurated May 3, 1918 (p. 5, col. 1) and swiftly became the most widely read column in the newspaper. Soldiers submitted more than seventy-five thousand poems for possible printing in The Stars and Stripes. Many of those poems not selected for publication by the newspaper were published after the war.
Through their poetry, soldiers commented on life in the trenches, homesickness, patriotism, and the comradery essential for wartime success. The humor of the AEF doughboys tended to be a product of everyday experience, and their poetry reflects the hardships the men endured, so far from home. For example, Franklin P. Adams's "A Cootie's Garden of Verses" relates a soldier's battle with lice:
In winter I get up at night,
and have to scratch by candle-light;
In summer, quite the other way;
I have to scratch the livelong day.
A soldier boy should never swear
When coots are in his underwear,
Or underneath his helmet label--
At least, as far he is able.
The trench is so full of a number of coots,
I'm actually growing quite fond of the brutes.
(April 26, 1918, p. 4, col. 3)
*Unless otherwise noted all references are to The Stars and Stripes.