15 April 2015

The Iowa Review Celebrates 2nd Vets' Writing Contest

Two Sat., April 18 events in Iowa City, Iowa will help celebrate The Iowa Review's second successful Jeff Sharlet Memorial Contest for Veterans, the winning entries of which appear in the publication's Spring 2015 issue.

At 7 p.m., first- and second-place winners will read from their works at Prairie Lights Bookstore, located at 15 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City, Iowa 52240.

Katherine Schifani, first-place winner, will read her essay "Pistol Whip." Brian Van Reet, second-place winner, will present his short story "The Chaff." Both entries are set in the Iraq War.

Contest judge Anthony Swofford (author of 2003's Gulf War memoir "Jarhead"), will also read. A reception will follow in the bookstore café. For a Facebook page regarding the event, click here.

In a guest opinion appearing in the (Iowa City) Press Citizen April 13, contest winner Schifani writes:
The only thing I am confident [veterans] deserve, and the thing we need even more than free beer, is a voice and a space for people to listen to it. The war needs a voice because the people who fought in it need for everyone else to understand what we saw and did. 
A few notable writers have broken through and been recognized for describing their time in the wars, but there are thousands of veterans with unique experiences and stories to tell, all of which are necessary to really understand the war, the motivation for the soldiers fighting it, and the effect it had on us. More importantly, the more veterans who tell their stories, the more we can understand how the wars affected the rest of the country who did not go fight, how it affected people who […] only obliquely knew someone who fought them. 
I knew that my experience in Iraq was unique. I knew it while I was there, and I knew it when I got back home. What I didn’t know until I started writing about it was that it was also important, and not just for me. It is important that other people hear my story and know what I did and what I didn’t do because one day, our country will decide whether to fight another war, and the population must know what it is like.
Single issues of The Iowa Review may be purchased on-line here.

The next submissions period for the next Jeff Sharlet Memorial Contest for Veterans will open between May 1 and June 1, 2016. First-place winner will receive $1,000 and publication in the Spring 2017 issue; second-place winner will receive $750; three runners-up will receive $500 each. Editors report that the next iteration of the contest may be its last, given available funding.

Earlier in the day at 1 p.m. Sat., April 18, Swofford will visit FilmScene to participate in a screening and Q&A discussion of "Jarhead", the 2005 movie based on his memoir. The venue is located at: 118 E. College Street, Suite 101, Iowa City, Iowa 52240. For a Facebook page regarding the event, click here.

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