10 June 2015

'Deadly Writers Patrol' Bridges Generations at War

In the tenth issue of its print literary journal, the Madison, Wis.-based Deadly Writers Patrol (D.W.P.) delivers 80 pages of punchy prose and poetry about war and peace.

The nucleus of the group is a fire team of writers who each served during the Vietnam War. Starting in 2013, however, submissions were opened to veterans and family members of other conflicts. In both process and product, the effort builds bridges not only between civilians and veterans, but between generations.

"The Deadly Writers Patrol magazine began as an outlet for writing by Vietnam veterans, but we're now publishing a number of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan," says DWP editor Craig Werner:
Most of the writing we publishes touches on experience in the service, but we're open to writing by veterans on any topic. Over the years we've published work by a few non-veterans—including several members of veterans' families—about the eras. We focus primarily on "creative" work—fiction and poetry rather than memoir—but we understand that the line between autobiography and fiction is blurry and we don't spend much effort enforcing it. In effect, it means that we're looking for writing that deals with the complexities of experience rather than journalistic reports of "what happened."
Back issues of Deadly Writers Patrol Magazine can be purchased for varying amounts ranging from $5 to $15 here.)

The newest DWP issue is 80 pages in length, and features the work of 15 military veterans and family members. There is an equal number of poems and short stories. Cost is $10. (Disclosure: The issue contains four poems by the writer of the Red Bull Rising blog, including "your drill sergeant writes haiku, too" and "Jody stole your haiku tools".)

Iraq War veteran and poet Wyl Schuth targets gritty details of veterans' everyday lives, including job interviews and the suicide deaths of friends. In "Ambush," for example, he writes of a flashback ignited by a curb-crawling city bus:
[…] we plod forward still.
Scanning again through the glass
the horizon returns to horizontal

The driver coos back an apology—
she has cut the corner too short
nothing more, no IED this time […]
Former Marine and Iraq War veteran Maurice Decaul presents a series of four poems, written in the style and spirit of an ancient Tamil anthology called the Purananuru. Written between the 1st century B.C.E. and the 5th century, the original texts delivered treatises on topics such as war, morality, and kingly conduct.

Now, using timeless titles such as "Song for a Hero" and "Song for a Gold Star Wife," Decaul uses the ancient poetic form's fragmentary nature to great effect. Read individually, each is a heart-breaking psalm. Read cumulatively, one gains a sense of modern war's collective costs. In "Song for a Hero (After the Purananuru 290)", he writes:
[…] War is like a star the great architect emplaced
Father of your father & father of my father perishing
mustard-gas machineguns atom-bombs
& I too might be remembered for courage
like a Kevlar umbrella unfurled when shrapnel rains
& when it is raining lords, it is I who won't be missed.
Themes such as Schuth's and Decaul's echo those of their Vietnam War-era brothers and sisters. At the same time, having their work appear alongside stories of earlier conflicts invites readers to comparison and contrast. Uniforms, acronyms, and details may have changed, but times have not.

Take, for example, the work of Vietnam War veteran Steve Piotrowski, whose short story "The Black Shack" tells a multi-layered narrative of navigation, from out in the field to back in the rear, and among differing civil-military terrains of race and culture. The work is a chapter-length excerpt from Piotrowski's larger book project, "Coming Home," and is based on his experiences in the 173rd Airborne Corps. Younger veterans will marvel at how much has changed, and how much hasn't.

The DWP magazine's editors welcome veterans' contributions of poetry, fiction, and more. Submissions by non-veterans should regard in some manner a theme of war or its effects. In addition to short stories and poems, past submissions have included excerpts from novels and memoirs, as well as personal essays.

Submissions should be sent to editor Craig Werner via e-mail: cwerner52 AT yahoo.com

Werner's "We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack to the Vietnam War," written along with fellow DWP member Doug Bradley, is forthcoming later this year from University of Massachusetts Press.

A sampler of other Deadly Writers Patrol writing is available FREE on-line here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.