24 June 2015

War Poetry Potpourri and a Corn Belt Cornucopia

"You've been writing a lot about poetry lately," says Archer.

I know.

I guess you could say I'm writing what I know. Or what doing what I know. Which, this summer, is poetry. Also, comic books. And constructing foam-armor costumes with the Sherpa kids. It's summertime, after all, and we have a couple of weeks of "Camp Dad" on the calendar.

So, I've slowed down the blog a bit, shifted the frequency of posts to once a week.

Behind the blog-scene, I'm shopping to publishers and contests a manuscript of my own military-themed poetry, while also wrestling with the harder parts of that never-ending "Red Bull in Afghanistan" non-fiction project. I'm also ramping up to help out some of my veterans-lit buddies at Military Experience & the Arts with a larger, on-going editorial project. More on that in a future post.

Summer is here! That's Annual Training season!

Through press releases and social media, I've been watching members of the Minnesota National Guard's 1st Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.), 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division (1-34th BCT) engage in a large-scale training event at Camp Ripley, Minn. They're getting ready for a 2016 rotation "in the box" at the National Training Center (N.T.C.), Fort Irwin, Calif. Meanwhile, members of the Iowa National Guard's 2-34th BCT are prepping for a rotation later this summer at Joint Readiness Training Center (J.R.T.C.), Fort Polk, La. "All this has happened before, and all this will happen again."

Good times, good times ...

That reminds me: I should write a humorous essay titled "Ways that Camp Dad is like Annual Training." Something akin to that time I compared/contrasted working in a Tactical Operations Center and working in a daycare. It seems to me that I haven't been bringing the funny much lately. 

Unless you're talking poetry, of course. Which I am. No big surprise here, but the stuff I write usually tends toward the humorous. Even with all the summer household chaos and logistics, I've had some recent good fortune in getting my work out there and published.

One recent arrival is The Corn Belt Almanac, a cornucopia full of essays, fiction, poetry, recipes, fun facts, and other good stuff about agriculture—about how and what we eat.

The almanac is the third such project from The Head & The Hand Press, a small press located in Philadelphia, Penn. Previous years brought about 2013's The Rust Belt Almanac (on themes of urban renewal) and 2014's The Asteroid Belt Alamanac (on themes regarding science and space). Writers, take note: There's also soon to be an open call for The Bible Belt Almanac, to be published in 2016. Editors will be looking for work regarding religion and philosophy.

You can buy The Corn Belt Almanac here. The 116-page journal not only includes "10 haiku about a state fair," written by the writer of the Red Bull Rising blog, but also a recipe for "Kick-@$$ Corn" from Household-6! It's also chock-full of literary goodness!

But what's the connection to military writing, Sherpa?

Well, an early draft of "10 haiku …" did include one about military recruiters working at a state fair. That, however, grew into its own, non-haiku work. It hasn't yet been published.

There's also probably something grand and theoretical to be said about the natural evolution of artist- and writer-veterans. At some point, we each have to be open to considering topics other than war. At some point, we each might drop the hyphenated "-veteran." (Heck, some might even call that "reintegration" into civilian life.)

More directly, however, I first came across The Head & The Hand Press when reviewing Adrian Bonenberger's 2014 memoir "Afghan Post." They're a hardworking and creative "craft publisher"—check out their "community-supported" business model, for example—and bring a lot to our collective literary table.

Friendly reminder: You can buy Bonenberger's book through Amazon, your local bookseller, or direct from the publisher.

In other war poetry news, fellow Military Writers Guild member Mikhail Grinberg recently wrote a two-part review and interview with self-published war poet Stanton S. Coerr's 2013 collection "Rubicon". Coerr is a former Marine attack-helicopter driver, and he has some good things to say in person and in print.

I commend both the review and the interview to you, although I think that modern military-themed poetry has a larger footprint than either writer suggests. Does it enjoy the same reach and financial success as the latest summer blockbuster? Probably not. But it's doing important stuff, and there's a market for it. Grinberg's review personally influenced me, for example, to seek out and purchase Coerr's work.

I've also taken the liberty of adding Coerr's work to my "Mother of All 21st Century War Poetry Lists," which was first posted last April, and now appears as a static page on the Red Bull Rising blog.

"Attack! Attack! Attack!"

1 comment:

  1. Hey...announcement of published works would be most appreciated!


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