21 March 2018

Poet Explores Place-finding in her Military Family

In her soon-to-be-published second collection of poetry, titled "Permanent Change of Station," Lisa Stice lovingly interrogates and illuminates life in a military family with a young daughter—exploring the in-betweens of separation and connection, and the quest for finding one’s place in the world.

With an anticipated on-sale date of April 23, 2018, "Permanent Change of Station" (100 pages, Middle West Press LLC) will be available in a $11.99 trade paper edition through Amazon and other booksellers, as well as a $5.99 e-book exclusively via Amazon.

Stice's signature style frequently involves the borrowing of words from texts she finds readily at hand, including quotations from Sun Tzu's "The Art of War," and Dr. Seuss's "The Sneetches." In her new poems, the family’s small dog Seamus also often appears as sentry, companion, and guide.

"Given that April is both the Month of the Military Child, and National Poetry Month, we can think of no better voice to celebrate than that of Lisa Stice," says Randy Brown, editor and publisher of Middle West Press LLC. "Her close observations of childhood magic and household routines, quietly set against ever-present question-marks of war and displacement, are essential and timely insights into the modern military family experience."

"If you’ve ever been a military kid, parent, or spouse—regardless of age or era—you’ll find a welcome home in her words."

Lisa Stice is the author of a previous poetry collection, "Uniform" (Aldrich Press, 2016), in which she explores her experiences as a military wife. A former high school teacher, she volunteers as a mentor with the Veterans Writing Project; as an associate poetry editor with 1932 Quarterly; and as a contributor for The Military Spouse Book Review. She received a BA in English literature from Mesa State College (now Colorado Mesa University), Grand Junction, Colo., and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. While it is difficult to say where home is, she says, Stice currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, her daughter, and Seamus, a Norwich Terrier.

For a Red Bull Rising review of Stice's previous book, click here.

For a "5 Questions" Aiming Circle interview with poet Lisa Stice, click here.

Middle West Press LLC is a Central Iowa-based editor and publisher of non-fiction, fiction, journalism, and poetry. As an independent micro-press, we publish one to four titles annually. Our projects are often inspired by the people, places, and history of the American Midwest, as well as other essential stories.

The press has previously published two collections from other poets, who offer unique perspectives on war or military themes: "Welcome to FOB Haiku: War Poems from Inside the Wire" (2015) by Randy Brown; and "Hugging This Rock: Poems of Earth & Sky, Love & War" (2017) by Eric Chandler.

07 March 2018

'Journey to Normal' Film Features Iowa Red Bulls

In its Iowa premiere, the 2017 documentary "Journey to Normal: Women of War Come Home" will be shown in an exclusive, one-time engagement on the Boone, Iowa campus of Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) at 7 p.m., Thurs., March 22, 2018.

A Q&A session with producer and director JulieHera DeStefano will follow the 93-minute film.

Hundreds of women service members were interviewed for the film project, and plans call for their stories to be archived and made available to researchers via the non-profit Journey to Normal website, producers say.

"Since 2001, over 280,000 women have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan," the documentary says. "Journey to Normal shares 8 of their stories so that we might reflect on the individual experiences of all who serve."

Two of the eight women featured in the film are originally from Iowa. Featured in the documentary are:
  • Jessica Astorga Dayton, a U.S. Air Force nurse from Dayton, Ohio
  • Abby Brookbank Allen, a U.S. Army National Guard combat medic from Ida Grove, Iowa
  • Ivonne Daly, a U.S. Army Reserve surgeon from Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Jill Finken, a U.S. Army National Guard attorney from Souix City, Iowa
  • Christine Mau, a U.S. Air Force F-15 pilot from Mountain Home, Idaho
  • Judi Reeves, a U.S. Army Reserve surgical technician from Middletown, N.Y.
  • Devon Reyes, a U.S. Army Military Intelligence officer from Fort Knox, Ky.
  • Amy Sinkler, a U.S. Army truck driver from Chadbourn, N.C.
The event is the last installment in the inaugural "In Their Boots Film Festival," a three-month series of film presentations intended to foster conversations about military service, veterans issues, and social reintegration. The event is co-sponsored by the DMACC-Boone student group In My Boots 5k, and the Central Iowa non-profit Paws & Effect. The festival is made possible by a generous grant from Humanities Iowa.

"Because we train service dogs for veterans, we recognize that 'coming home' from a wartime deployment can be a journey, not a destination," says Nicole Shumate, executive director of Paws & Effect. "Reintegrating into our society and with our families doesn't just happen overnight, and it doesn't happen without hard work and continued support. We are extremely proud to celebrate the lives and stories of the veterans depicted in 'Journey to Normal'—and all who have walked these paths."

In 2010-2011, in what was described as the largest deployment of Iowa troops since World War II, the Iowa Army National Guard's 2nd Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.), 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division (2-34th BCT) sent more than 3,000 citizen-soldiers overseas as part of the "Afghan Surge." The 2-34th BCT is headquartered in Boone.

Randy Brown, a Central Iowa-based freelance writer and editor of "Reporting for Duty," a collection of U.S. Army public affairs reports from the Iowa brigade's deployment, says that "Journey to Normal" uniquely captures some of what it was like to deploy to Afghanistan—and what it is like to return to family, friends, school, and work following a wartime deployment. "All of these stories are important—individually and collectively," says Brown. "To most of us, this is a depiction of war far more 'real' and relevant than popular movies about snipers and drones."

Interviews with at least three "Red Bull" soldiers are featured in the documentary. Each appears multiple times on-camera, in settings both downrange and "back home." Abby Brookbank was a combat medic assigned to 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment (1-168th Inf.), and was based at Forward Operating Base ("FOB") Gardez. Jill Finken was an attorney assigned to the brigade headquarters, which was based at Bagram Airfield ("BAF") during the 2010-2011 deployment. Martha Kester, a chaplain with 334th Brigade Support Battalion, also makes a number of appearances throughout the film.

For more information about "Journey to Normal," visit here. A Facebook page is here.

To view an early (2011) trailer about the film, visit here.

There will be a freewill donation pasta dinner fund-raiser preceding the movie, starting 6 p.m. in the DMACC-Boone food court area. Proceeds will go to support the "In Our Boots 5k" run, walk, and ruck fund-raiser event April 14, 2018. The 93-minute movie "Journey to Normal" will be shown in the adjacent auditorium starting 7 p.m.

A Facebook page for the "In My Boots 5k" student group is here. A website is here.

A registration page for the April 14, 2018 5k run, walk, and ruck event is here.

28 February 2018

War Poetry Redux: The 'Blue Streak' Strikes Again!

Editors at the literary journal "As You Were," published by the 501(c)3 non-profit organization Military Experience & the Arts, have published a special spring 2018 edition of the poetry journal "Blue Streak."

The issue features 27 poems from 25 military veterans and family members, and can be read on-line FREE here at this link.

The special project takes its name from a legacy poetry journal, which published its first and only edition in 2013. In 2014, most of the organization's fiction, non-fiction, and poetry journals were consolidated under the "As You Were" literary journal title. The latter is currently published on-line twice annually.

"When 2017 poetry submissions exceeded our capacity to adequately honor and celebrate in the pages of As You Were the poets who had shared their words and works with us, we decided to bring back—at least temporarily—the Blue Streak nameplate out of cold storage," poetry editor Randy Brown writes in a short introduction to the issue. "We don’t know whether or when it will ever be back—our regular poetry features will continue with the next issue of As You Were—but we had a lot of fun putting it together."

website page describes the organization's publishing history and philosophy:
Our title ["As You Were"] also connotes a harkening back, an exploration of the self and the past. We’re interested in those words and works of art that are brave enough to cut through rank and time, presenting military experience honestly, free of the white-washing that can appear in today’s war literature and art. We’ve published numerous volumes since 2011, providing each contributor–regardless of whether that contributor has published 25 words or 25 books–with some form of one-on-one consultation if they wanted it.
As previously reviewed on the Red Bull Rising blog, the journal "As You Were" uniquely packages its submissions process as something akin to a virtual writing workshop. Unlike the thumbs-up-or-down approach of other journals, writers of all experience levels may engage in multiple drafts with peer editors and readers, while preparing pieces for publication. Regardless of whether a piece is accepted after one edit or many, however, the objective, however, is always the same: Help writers find new ways to document and communicate the military experience.