03 February 2016

'Line of Advance' Retools, Launches Writing Contest

Darron L. Wright PHOTO: Line of Advance
Creators of the Chicago-based digital military-lit journal "Line of Advance" recently announced the creation of the Col. Darron L. Wright writing award. The contest is named after a U.S. Army officer and author who served on three Iraq War deployments, who was killed in a stateside parachute training accident on Sept. 23, 2013. He was 45.

Line of Advance Editor Chris Lyke writes:
Thanks to a generous donation from the Blake and Bailey Foundation, Line of Advance is presenting the Col. Darron L. Wright Award. Like us, Darron Wright was a soldier: a larger than life infantry commander with several tours under his belt. And also like us, Col. Wright was a writer: a thoughtful, reflective artist, eager to tell the truth about his men with compassion and a commander’s eye. This award is presented in his name in an effort to honor his memory.
The contest is currently accepting both prose (category includes both fiction and non-fiction) and poetry. Deadline is April 1, 2015. Contest is open to military service members and veterans.

Three finalists will be named, with $250, $150, and $100 prizes each to be awarded. Submissions may be made via the journal's website here. Make sure to specify "contest" at the end of the title field.

According to a corresponding note on the publication's Facebook page, all contest submissions will be published on the website, and winners will be chosen by a panel of veteran and non-veteran writers and poets.

In addition to other assignments, Darron Wright served as battalion operations officer for 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo., with whom he deployed to Iraq from 2003 to 2004. Wright was next assigned as brigade executive officer with 4th Brigade, 4th Inf. Div., Fort Hood, Texas, with whom he deployed to Iraq from 2005 to 2006. He commanded the 1st Battalion, 509th Parachute Inf. Reg. at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, La. in 2007. From 2009 to 2013, Wright was assigned as deputy brigade commander for the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Inf. Div., with whom he deployed to Iraq from 2009 to 2010.

A graduate of the U.S. Naval War College, Wright authored "Iraq Full Circle: From Shock and Awe to the Last Combat Patrol in Baghdad and Beyond." in 2012.

Wright's full biography appears here.

"Darron L. Wright was a larger than life Soldier’s Soldier. He was a physically imposing, direct, and skilled warrior," the Line of Advance editors write.
He was also witty, hilarious, generous, kind, and wholly consumed with love for his family. He will certainly be missed but he will never be forgotten. His intellectual curiosity, boundless optimism, and untiring work ethic, allowed him to reach heights he could only dream of as a young boy growing up in Mesquite, Texas. It is in this spirit that the Darron L. Wright Award was created, to inspire fellow military writers and poets to aspire to become better and more accomplished at their craft and at telling their story.
The Line of Advance journal has previously been mentioned on the Red Bull Rising blog here and here, and individual issues reviewed here and here.

Following a tactical pause in 2015, Lyke tells the Red Bull Rising blog that the once-quarterly subscription-based e-journal is transitioning to a free website model, and will publish one or two waves of submissions annually. Content published in four previous issues of Line of Advance will be anthologized and re-published on the new website.

Finally, Lyke plans to regularly engage and feature artist-veterans with interviews on their passions and projects. One of the first "Veteran Spotlights" focuses on former Marine and Iraq War veteran Jacob Faivre, a blogger on healing and music at A Marine's Life in Lyrics. Faivre is also a video documentarian who successfully crowd-funded a 10,000-mile car and hiking trip, working toward a film titled "To See Them As They Are." Read the interview here.

27 January 2016

'No, Achilles' Introduction Explores 'Night Vision' Poem

Published last fall by WaterWood Press, Austin, Texas, "No, Achilles" is a 75-page poetry anthology, collecting 64 poems witnessing the experiences of war. As defined in the original 2014 call for submissions, the book focuses on war poems of witness—all places and times, but excluding poems about the attacks of September 11, 2001.

The book includes my poem "night vision," which was inspired by "Operation Bull Whip" and other air-assault missions, conducted during the 2010-2011 deployment of the Iowa Army National Guard's 2nd Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.), 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division to Eastern Afghanistan. The poem also appears in my 2015 collection of snarky military-themed poetry, "Welcome to FOB Haiku: War Poems from Inside the Wire."

In his introduction to the anthology, Peter Anderson of Austin College, Sherman, Texas, explores possible implications of "night vision," as well as other poems:
To [James Hillman, author of "A Terrible Love of War"], actual war may be the most lyric experiment in any life, too intense to be captured except by the literary imagination. Here, poetry is, as it were, more logical a choice than logic. Take "night vision" by Randy Brown. Fraught with a sense of peril, of waiting with bated breath, and therefore a certain taut excitement, the poem places us right at the edge of the action:

Our Afghan brothers cannot see past the ramp
into the black wide open that is
only feet away beneath the turn of our rotors.

Our goggle eyes paint the dark
green with spinny lights and ghosts [...]

Vivid at this point is the painted darkness, the bobbing, smeared and luminous green that makes specters of the figures below. It is this seeing, and the image, or the after-image, of this which will remain part of our inner experience of war. It seems, then, that the strength of "No, Achilles" consists not only in its set theme of pathos, but also in its ability to run counter to its own theme. For a moment, in a poem like "night vision," we are able to touch into the ecstatic dimension of war, the vortex of its thanatoctic allure.
"No, Achilles" is available by mail for $15, plus $1 per book for shipping and handling. Orders by check or money order can be sent to:
WaterWood Press
47 Waterwood
Huntsville, Texas 77320.

20 January 2016

10 Things One Gulf War Memoirist Says Not to Forget

Editor's note: Earlier this week, Minnesotan Joel Turnipseed wrote these 10 aphorisms while musing about the recent 25th anniversary of the start of the Persian Gulf War. As a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve's 6th Motor Transport Battalion in 1990-1991, Turnipseed deployed to Saudi Arabia as a tractor-trailer driver—part of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

After writing a 1997 article for GQ magazine about the experience, the former philosophy major later expanded the work into the 2003 book "Baghdad Express: A Gulf War Memoir." It is funny and unique—a "modern bohemian war memoir." You can still find it in both hardcover and trade paperback editions.

While he originally shared these thoughts with family and friends via social media, Turnipseed has graciously granted permission to the Red Bull Rising blog to publish it here.


Turnipseed writes:

Today is the 25th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm. I've already written plenty about the subject—and I'm not really looking to editorialize (not comprehensively, anyway) ... but there are few things we somehow always seem to forget that seem worth remembering today:
1. War does not turn boys into men—it turns them into endangered boys. 
2. War does not solve problems—it just creates different problems to solve. 
3. There is no such thing as "protecting our troops" (from injury, from PTSD, from ...) during a war. Go ask the alcoholic and suicidal drone operators, who conduct war from a video game machine, how "well-protected" they feel from war. 
4. Never ask anyone to tell you a war story unless you want to risk feeling like a terribly shitty human being when they're finished. 
5. Never tell a war story unless you, too, want to risk feeling like a terribly shitty human being when you're finished. 
6. Never trust anyone who denies numbers 1 through 5: They are either hurting way more than they're letting on or they're incapable for other reasons (personal or professional) of telling the truth. 
7. Turns out people live effective, interesting lives in surprising and wonderful ways after they've been injured … which in no way erases the fact that they've been hurt. I recently saw a man with both arms blown off at the elbows work the TSA line like a champ. I wanted to cheer him, until I recognized what that meant ... 
8. Any time someone uses war to inspire you, run like hell. 
9. Veterans make terrible sacrifices for their country, in the act of killing the citizens of others'. Nurses, doctors, police officers, EMTs, firefighters, construction workers, fisherman, truck drivers, miners, and any number of other workers make terrible sacrifices for their country, to make life longer and safer. Go thank a truck driver for his sacrifice; buy a nurse a drink. 
10. We've now been (including "No-Fly Zones" & Operation Desert Fox & ...) at war in Iraq for 25 years. Stop and think about that. There are college graduates who have never known a period when we were not at war in the Middle East. Something scarier? Many of them have no reason to believe they are in any danger ...