Fresh, profound, illuminating
Poetry is, by nature, sparsely populated with words, almost to the point of being terse. Words carefully chosen, however, can explode into the mind, creating images and understanding where none existed before. If you ever wondered about the experiences of our service members in the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, this is a must-read poetry book. It logs the humor and joy as well as the pathos and tragedy that comes as a result of serving in the American military.
The poetry is divided into several sections titled Basic Issue, Getting Embed, FOB Haiku, Lessons Learned, and Homecoming. A final section titled Notes contains valuable definitions as well as pronunciations for the ever-present military acronyms. Information in this section is critical to the understanding of how the poetry is to be read, since many of us do not know how to pronounce DFAC or TOC. My advice is to read the notes for each section before you read the poetry in that section. I think it will deepen the experience as well as allow you to get the meter that the poet intended.
One poem in particular changed the way I think of my son’s service in Iraq, where he was killed in action. “Hamlet in Afghanistan” enabled me to realize more than I had allowed myself to think that “nothing we can ever do will change that day in the village.” Heartrending, but true.
Not everyone in America understands the military culture. But for those who lived it, this book will bring remembrance and affirmation. For those who are families and friends of service members, this book will help you gain new understanding of your loved ones. For those without experience in this field, you may end up with a fresh look at what it’s all about.
MWSA Reviewer: Betsy Beard
SHERPATUDE NO. 26: "HUMOR IS A COMBAT MULTIPLIER ..." Has your war become workaday? Does life on the Forward Operating Base (FOB) now seem commonplace? Armed with deadpan snark and poker-faced patriotism--and rooted in the coffee-black soil and plain-spoken voice of the American Midwest--journalist-turned-poet Randy Brown reveals behind-the-scenes stories of U.S. soldier-citizenship. From Boot Camp to Bagram, Afghanistan. And back home again.
Here's a taste:
Three Cups of Chai-ku
I had hoped, I guess,
for something more like Starbucks,
not yellow water.
We build our nations
one tea party at a time.
They serve, we protect.
No one here can lead
this endless talk of action.
"Que shura, shura."