The author of "Welcome to FOB Haiku" has new poetry appearing in The New Verse News, a website that regularly presents "politically progressive poetry on current events and topical issues." Poems there are often inspired by recent news events and headlines.Randy Brown's new work, titled "a veteran Pokémon Go trainer leaving Bagram, Afghanistan writes haiku" is based on recent downrange reporting by J.P. Lawrence at the newspaper Stars and Stripes. "It is a set of five snarky haiku-like war poems involving a Pokémon video game," says Brown. "Like they say, 'Gotta read them all!'"
You can read Brown's new poetry here.
The original July 2, 2021 news story is titled, "Soldiers watch the US withdrawal from Bagram Airfield through the lens of Pokemon Go."
As reported by Lawrence and others, U.S. military personnel last week reportedly abandoned Bagram Airfield (BAF), Parwan Province, Afghanistan without much coordination, if any, with Afghan officials. At the height of the "Afghan Surge" in 2010-2011, as partly documented in the 2016 collection of U.S. Army journalism "Reporting for Duty," the sprawling installation once housed more than 30,000 U.S. and Coalition troops.
Lawrence reports that Pokémon Go, an "Augmented Reality" (A.R.) video game in which players capture and train fantastical cartoon monsters using smart-phone cameras. Unlike U.S. troops, some of those virtual pets apparently remain in place at Bagram—and will do so in digital perpetuity.
As a former U.S. National Guard citizen-soldier, Lawrence has a grunt's-eye view and knack for finding new and original stories. "I'm always impressed with how J.P. finds fresh ways to illuminate what is going on in Afghanistan and Iraq," says Brown. "He's written about military stakeboarders, Afghan policewomen who write poetry, and the 'Zombielands' created after American bases are abandoned. And now, video games as a lens and metaphor through which to view our involvements and effects there."
A former newspaper journalist, Brown encourages other military-adjacent poets engage in artistic reactions to current events. In addition to The New Verse News, Brown notes, news-driven poetry markets include:
Photo caption: Oct. 28, 2016—Airman 1st Class Quintin Rice, 50th Force Support Squadron, shows off his badge case at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. Rice earned the title “Pokémon master” after he collected all eight badges during the 50th Space Wing’s Chaplain’s Office’s “Pokémon challenge.” Photo by U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Scarlett Trujillo