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.