30 September 2015

Website Aims to Inspire War Poets, Conversations

Poets and War, a website dedicated to the preservation and propagation of war poetry, has been launched by editors Stephen Sossaman and Leonore Wilson. The website features new and reprinted war poems from all perspectives and eras, as well as articles and reviews. Poets and writers are invited to submit via Submittable for a $3 fee, most of which goes toward site upkeep.

"I started Poets and War to discover good war poems, encourage poets to write war poems, and perhaps connect war poets to each other without regard to their politics, nationality, or experiences," writes Sossaman, in a recent e-mail interview with the Red Bull Rising blog. He envisions site's role as a conversation starter, about both the subject matter and the craft of the poet, rather than simply a place to publish poems.

Sossaman is a poet and professor emeritus of English at Westfield State University, Westfield, Mass, and now resides in Napa, Calif. Wilson is a poet and teacher of creative writing based in San Francisco. Additional editorial roles on the website are anticipated to be filled later this year.

The website's mission statement more formally echoes Sossaman's intentions:
Poets and War intends to publish the best available poetry about war and about human experiences central to war—without regard to the poets' politics, nationality, gender, or professional status—and to facilitate discussions about the historical and contemporary relationships between poetry and war.
Says Sossaman: "My assumption is that a great number of interesting, well written, and potentially memorable war poems await publication, but might never be published. We must look for the good poems, but also publish poems that might not be to our personal taste. […] [Also,] many literary journals have a print run of 500 or a thousand copies, so being published in print is no guarantee of being widely read. Poets and War is willing to republish poems so that they do not die a lonely death on a handful of book shelves."

Placing war poetry into historical and literary frameworks, Sossaman says, will be just as important as creating a platform for presenting poetry about war. By creating opportunities for poets to share work and notes on craft, he hopes to help shape how future generations come to regard contemporary conflicts.

"Some time in the future, young Americans may very well decide that they know what the war in Afghanistan or Iraq was about, and what being there was like, in part because one film, one poem, one short story, or one novel came to dominate high school curricula," he says. "We do not know that if that poem has been written yet, which should be good motivation for poets with something to say and the skill to say it."

23 September 2015

Comics Seeks to Capture Tale of 'Tiger on the Storm'

Perhaps facing similar funding odds as the beloved A-10 itself, a group of comics creators is developing a graphic novel about the U.S. Air Force's 23rd Fighter Group during Operation Desert Storm. The unit continues the lineage of the famed "Flying Tigers" of World War II.

Based on her work on previous war-themed projects, including "Untold Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan" and "Korean War, Vol. 2", comics writer Valerie Finnigan was approached by the daughter of U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. David Sawyer at the 2014 Salt Lake Comic Con regarding the project. The general was a former commander of the 23rd Fighter Group, which flies the A-10 aircraft.

The A-10–formally named the "Thunderbolt II," but more commonly called some variant of "Warthog"–is specifically designed to provide troops on the ground with Close Air Support ("CAS"). The aircraft, which went into production in 1977, the low- and slow-flying aircraft notably features a titanium bathtub for pilot survivability, and a gatling cannon that delivers up to 3,900 rounds of 30mm ordnance per minute.

In defense-policy circles and on the Internet, there are on-going debates whether the U.S. Air Force can continue to support ground troops using expensive, high-flying, multipurpose aircraft such as the F-35 "Lightning II." Critics argue the Air Force is actively squashing stories of the A-10's continued successes in Afghanistan and other theaters, for political reasons.

Finnigan quickly got to work on the project, now titled "Tiger on the Storm," researching the unit and the aircraft:

"The aircraft themselves also proved a bit of a challenge," she writes on her blog. "Appearance counts for a lot in a visual medium like comics, which is probably why A-10 Warthogs such as those flown by the 23rd [Tactical Fighter Wing] don't appear often in comics. The civilian public wouldn't line up by the hundreds or thousands to see them in an air show like they would for much prettier F-18 Hornets. While Warthogs are maneuverable enough to do their jobs, they look ugly and sound downright obnoxious."

"Get to know them though, and you just may fall in love as much as anyone can with aircraft," she continues. "In talking with veterans who served on the ground as well as in the air, I learned why the Warthogs are so feared by enemy forces and strongly beloved by our troops. This is why I’m glad to have 'Korean War' penciller Dan Monroe on board doing pencils and inks. His ten years in the Army helped him learn a healthy appreciation of good close air support such as the Warthogs provide."

In addition to Finnigan and Monroe, "Korean War" team members Eric White (colors) and Tom Orzechowski (letters) are also potentially participating in the "Tiger on the Storm" project. Via Indiegogo, the crowd-funding effort seeks up to $50,000 to cover production, printing, and distribution costs. For more information, click here.

16 September 2015

$20K Helps Iowa Remembers Warm Up for Sept. 27 5K!

Iowa Remembers, Inc., a Des Moines-area non-profit that funds an annual retreat for surviving military families of the Global War on Terror, was a $20,000 beneficiary of fund-raising efforts at the Sept. 9-10, 2015 annual convention of Group Benefits, Ltd., Urbandale, Iowa.

Iowa Remembers is best-known for its annual 5k Iowa Remembrance Run fund-raiser, which draws fields of more than 1,000 runners and walkers to West Des Moines' Raccoon River Park.

The 6th Annual Iowa Remembrance Run event is Sun., Sept. 27. Race start will follow ceremonies commencing 9:45 a.m. A signature array of flags and memorials lines the path to the finish line.

The public and media are invited to attend the event. Pre-race activities include a roll call of more than 100 Iowans who have lost their lives in service to their country since 2001. This year's speaker will be Mysty Stumbo, mother of U.S. Army Spc. Daniel L. Sesker, who was killed in action in Iraq April 6, 2006.

Registration for the run is open until Sept. 24. There is no day-of race registration. Click here to register on-line.

Sponsors for the race event include:
  • American Legion Riders
  • Casey's General Stores
  • Enlisted Association of the National Guard – Iowa
  • Fareway Stores, Inc.
  • Green Family Flooring
  • Group Benefits, Ltd.
  • Iowa National Guard Officers Auxiliary
  • MidAmerican Energy
  • Nationwide Insurance
Contributing organizations include:
  • American Legion Post 396, Bondurant, Iowa
  • RoadID
  • Fitness Sports, Des Moines
Volunteer organizations include:
  • American Legion Riders – Post 232, Polk City, Iowa
  • Wells Fargo Veterans Team Member Network
  • Team Red, White and Blue
  • Nationwide Insurance
In addition to survivor family retreats, Iowa Remembers also funds and organizes arts projects that commemorate and support Iowa service members and military families. For more information about the 501(c)3 non-profit organization, or to make a donation, e-mail: iowaremembersinc@live.com

09 September 2015

'Pleiades' Seeks Flash & Fiction for Veterans-Only Issue

Editors at Pleiades, a twice-annual print magazine based at the University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, Mo., have issued a special call for flash-fiction and fiction written by military veterans. A veterans-only issue will be published June 2016. Deadline for submissions is Oct. 15, 2015.

Poetry and non-fiction are not solicited for this issue.

Attached as either .DOC or .PDF formats, send up to 5,000 words of original and previously unpublished work to project editor Seth Brady Tucker, along with cover letter and biography: sbradytucker AT gmail.com

Tucker is himself a Desert Storm-era veteran of the U.S. Army.

Simultaneous submissions are accepted. Notices of acceptance or rejection will be sent by late November. If accepted, editors will ask for brief essay (under 500 words) describing how being a veteran affects your aesthetic and writing.

A Facebook page for the magazine is here.