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.
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.For more, visit The Live Oak Review here.
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.