Monday, December 10, 2018

'So It Goes' reprints 'Whiskey Tango Foxtrot'

The author of the war poetry collection "Welcome to FOB Haiku" has work recently reprinted in the 2018 edition of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum & Library's literary journal "So It Goes." The 2018 edition focuses on a theme of "Lonesome No More," and issues of mental health and social well-being.

Randy Brown's poem "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" previously appeared in Stone Canoe No. 11 (2017). Evoking movies respectively featuring Tina Fey and Deadpool, the poem relates a chance encounter following the death by suicide of a fellow Iowa citizen-soldier. It memorably ends with the line "everyone has their own war," an echo of a line often misattributed to the ancient Greek philosophers Philo or Plato. The original "Be pitiful, for every man is fighting a hard battle," was penned by the 19th century Scottish theologian John Watson, who wrote under the pseudonym Ian McClaren.

The "Lonesome No More" theme is inspired by Vonnegut's satirical 1976 science-fiction novel "Slapstick," in which American policy makers establish a social-support system that arbitrarily assigns people to extended "families." The museum and library recently concluded a year of "Lonesome No More"-themed programming, which included community-awareness events on mental health. The non-profit organization's "Lonesome No More" messages often featured a "Lonesome No More" campaign button drawn by Vonnegut himself.

Museum and library officials put the "Lonesome No More" effort into further context here:
We understand that you can’t get rid of loneliness just by getting rid of ‘aloneness.’ Kurt Vonnegut knew this; as a World War II veteran who was captured by the Nazis and survived the Allied firebombing of Dresden, Germany, he suffered from [Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder] and depression. He carried more than his share of loneliness throughout his lifetime, but that intense loneliness isn’t unique to people with PTSD or depression. It also affects people with other mental health concerns: anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or even just sadness when being bullied or feeling like people just don’t understand.
Past themes featured by the "So It Goes" literary journal include war and peace (2012); humor (2013); and social justice (2015). Brown's poetry has previously appeared in issues dedicated to creativity (2014); Indiana Bicentennial (2016); and "a little more common decency" (2017). Current and back issues of the journal can be ordered via the library's on-line store here.

More than 50 percent of the content of each year's issue of "So It Goes" is generated by military veterans and families. Born on November 11--a date variously celebrated as Veterans Day, Remembrance Day, and Armistice Day--Vonnegut was an intelligence scout in the 106th Infantry "Golden Lion" Division. He was captured during the Battle of the Bulge, and his experiences as a prisoner of war (P.O.W.) informed his first novel, "Slaughterhouse Five." The book was published in 1969.

Friday, November 16, 2018

New Work Asks 3 Questions about War

The author of "Welcome to FOB Haiku" has new work appearing in Collateral Journal Issue No. 3.1. The on-line journal—which twice annually publishes a mix of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and art—"draws attention to the impact of violent conflict and military service by exploring the perspectives of those whose lives are indirectly touched by them."

Randy Brown's "tell me how this ends" is a short and simple poem, consisting of three questions. An accompanying biographical statement notes, "Many of [Brown's] recent poems, including this one, involve interrogating war and conflict as a parent of young teenagers. The phrase 'tell me how this ends' was popularized as a 2003 quote by then-U.S. Army Maj. Gen. David Patreaus regarding the Iraq War."

Other poets featured in Collateral Journal include: Jason Arment, Yvonne, L. Burton Brender, Holly Day, James Deitz, Thad DeVassie, Erica Goss, Faith Esperanza Harron, Sarah McCann, and John Sibley Williams.

Essayists Janet Gool and Catherine Elizabeth Puckett contribute non-fiction. John Petelle, David Gambino, and Donna Maccherone contribute short stories.

Graphics featured in Issue 3.1 are by Iranian artist Reza Baharvand, who also participates in a Q&A interview. "At first, I find an image of war, usually recent wars in the Middle East, from TV or the Internet," he says of his process. "It is important for me to paint war images completely, in detail, to emphasize that the images are existing in reality. I paint it realistically in large size, then scratch and destroy it. I scratch them in order to show how we ignore the truth. In the foreground, there are objects painted in glitter. They are objects from everyday life, but they are shiny and deceptive. The main issue is in the background."

Friday, November 9, 2018

Poem is Finalist in 'Proud to Be' Vol. 7

Randy Brown, author of "Welcome to FOB Haiku," has a new poem featured in the forthcoming anthology "Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors."

Published by Southeast Missouri State University Press, and underwritten by the Missouri Humanities Council, it will be the seventh volume for such work. The book is currently available for pre-order.

The 200-page volume features poetry, fiction, non-fiction, photography, and other content by and about U.S. military veterans, service members, and families. The series releases annually in November, to coincide with Veterans Day.

Brown's new poem, "the ground truth," regards the experience of observing media and recovery efforts surrounding Flash Airlines Flight 604, which crashed in January 2004, minutes after taking off from Sharm el Sheikh International Airport. Killed in the crash were 148 civilian passengers and crew. Brown connects the event to the 1985 loss of 248 U.S. soldiers and civilian air crew in Arrow Air Flight 1285 in a crash near Gander, Canada.

Brown's poem begins:
Our desert watch was almost over
when charter Flight 604 banked steep
into the Anubis space
with 148 souls-on-board.
There was no moon.
The Red Sea was dark between
Herb’s Beach and the coming sun. […}
The poem is recognized with an honorable mention in the anthology.

According to press materials, judges included:
[...] Emma Bolden (author of the poetry collections "House Is an Enigma", "medi(t)ations", and "Maleficae"); Seth Wade (BFA University of Dayton, MFA University of Cincinnati); Ron Austin (author of the forthcoming story collection "Avery Colt is a Snake, a Thief, a Liar"); Missy Phegley (director of composition at Southeast Missouri State University); and Philip MacKenzie (MFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and a PhD from the University of South Dakota).