27 May 2015

Post-Memorial Day Round-Up on Mil-Writing

One of the movers-and-shakers I met recently at Military Experience & the Arts Symposiusm 2 (M.E.A.2.) in Lawton, Okla. was spoken-word artist, editor, and impresario Kylila Bullard, who's particularly interested in telling the stories of female West Point cadets.

She's written up her own take of the MEA2 event, which I invite you to read at her own blog, "Poetic Change." She heads a non-profit of the same name. A Facebook page for the organization is here.

Keep an ear out for her stuff. I know I will.

I was also pleased to meet former corpsman and sailor Travis Klempan, who is now a writer and poet based in Colorado. On Memorial Day, the Ash & Bones on-line literary journal published Klempan's short story "Commit to the Deep." It's a great read, and perfect for navigating the discomforts and internal conflicts of Memorial Day.

Also on the virtual table-of-contents was a poem from Eric Chandler.  Chandler is a former F-16 driver for the Minnesota Air National Guard (Callsign: "Shmo"), and an outdoors enthusiast and writer in Duluth, Minn. who now flies commercial passenger aircraft. His poem "Maybe I Should've Lied" wonderfully captures the uneasy phase lines over which citizen-soldiers must cross when talking with and around their children. The poem and the situation it describes resonated greatly with me, as did Shmo's snarky internal monologue.

That it was also published on Memorial Day, I think, is both provocative and appropriate.

The editors of Ash & Bones, Andrea Collins and Katie Kuss-Shivler, are to be commended and thanked for their literary coverage of military themes. In three recent waves or "cycles" of on-line content, they've presented a compelling mix of poetry and short fiction. (You can read that military content here and here.)

These are stories of military experience, ranging from the mundane to the profane, from the subversive and the sublime. They also share a great eye for pairing images—often copyright-free images from modern military journalists—with literary words. When artist- and writer-veterans talk about ways to build bridges across the gaps of understanding between civilians and military service members and families, it's content like this for which we should be aiming: Punchy. Loving. Unsentimental.

(Disclosure: The writer of the Red Bull Rising blog had two poems—here and here—appear in the journal's second cycle.)

The Ash & Bones publication is moving on to consider other, non-military topics important to our society and culture. I hope, however, that they revisit military themes in the future. In the meantime, I'll borrow a page from the Navy signals book and transmit a "Bravo Zulu" to all those involved.



Military writers, take note! Two noteworthy print journals have deadlines for short fiction, non-fiction, poetry, visual art, interviews, and more coming up on June 1:

First is "Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors" from Southeast Missouri State University Press, an annual anthology now in its fourth year.

Second is the annual journal "Consequence," which covers literature regarding the culture of war.

Like the Red Bull says: "Attack! Attack! Attack!"

In other words, keep writing! And keep sending out submissions!

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