Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Poem: 'what sacrifice has been'

This poem by Randy Brown originally appeared in "Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, Vol. 1," published in 2012 by Southeast Missouri State University Press. It also appeared in "Welcome to FOB Haiku: War Poems from Inside the Wire," Middle West Press LLC, 2015:

what sacrifice has been

in airports, well-traveled souls
confuse boots with heroes
and buy us sandwiches
while flat-talking boxes buzz

with bullet-lists and mug-shots of the fallen:
3-second shrines
to soldiers they will never know
like you

this war is on us,
they want to say
thanks for your service
have a nice day

they elevate our routine dead
with casual regard and separate
us from them
with unsustaining praise

they do not grasp our names are found
on medals and on stones
and on the lips of friends who’ve seen
what sacrifice has been

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Live Oak Review features Q&A with Haikuist

An extensive Q&A-style interview with Randy Brown, author of "Welcome to FOB Haiku: War Poems from Inside the Wire," was recently featured on The Live Oak Review, an on-line literary journal that focuses on author interviews and book reviews of contemporary poetry, literary fiction, and creative nonfiction. Poet Stephen Sossaman, founder of Poets and War website, and a professor emeritus of English at Westfield (Massachusetts) State University, conducted the interview.

The interview can be read in its entirety on the journal's website here.

In their conversation, Sossaman and Brown contrast the engines of today's war poetry with that of the Vietnam War generation; talk about whether the direct experience of war is necessary in order to write poems about it; about how social media has shifted the responsibility of mediating war experiences onto individual soldiers and family members; and about the roles of humor in poetry and in the military.

An excerpt:
Stephen Sossaman: My own guess is that your fine poem “night vision” might become the go-to poem about the war in Afghanistan, or maybe “dust bunnies and combat boots.” And for the complex feelings that most veterans experience after coming home, “Suburbistan” seems to me to be a very moving expression of disillusionment and nostalgia.

Randy Brown: “Suburbistan” still makes me laugh, every time my family hears helicopters overhead or small arms fire on Range Day. We don’t live in what you’d think of as a “military community.” I grew up in an active-duty Air Force family, and I’m familiar with the all-pervasive presence of a large military installation. Shopping at the commissary. Traffic signs flashing “low-flying aircraft.” Here, there’s just a small National Guard post nearby. You’d think we’d be insulated here, in the middle of the middle class in middle America, and yet we encounter reminders of war on a nearly daily basis. Not just reminders, but realities. Conex boxes staged at Starbucks. Convoys of ground vehicles delivering troops for training, or equipment for fixing. If people say they don’t know what’s going on in the world, they’re not looking very hard.
For more, visit The Live Oak Review here.

While there, be sure to also check out a review of war writer J.A. Moad II's play "Outside Paducah: The Wars at Home," in production through Oct. 15, 2017 by the Poetic Theater at The Wild Project, 195 E. 3rd Street, New York.