War veterans-turned-poets will take the stage of NJPAC’s Prudential Hall on Saturday evening, October 25, for what is sure to be one of the 2014 Dodge Poetry Festival’s most powerful programs. “Another Kind of Courage” will feature readings by veterans and family members of veterans, including Pulitzer Prize winner Yusef Komunyakaa, former Connecticut Poet Laureate Marilyn Nelson and Beatrice Hawley Award Winner Brian Turner. They will be joined by veterans who have participated in the Warrior Writers and Combat Paper NJ workshops, and by poets Jehanne Dubrow, Elyse Fenton, Charles H. Johnson, Gardner McFall, among others.
Martin Farawell, Dodge Poetry Director, explains that “Classic war stories often evolve around finding the courage to enter battle, but there is another kind of courage required of veterans and their families as they face the impact and aftermath of war: The courage required to acknowledge trauma; to turn with love toward those transformed and wounded by war, including ourselves.” “Another Kind of Courage” will provide a bridge between veterans and civilians, using poetry to share and heal in a therapeutically public, yet intimately personal way.
Yusef Komunyakaa began writing poetry shortly after completing his service in the United States Army as a correspondent and as managing editor of the Southern Cross during the Vietnam War, earning him a Bronze Star. Author of many books and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, his poem “Facing It,” about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, DC, and the memories and emotions it evokes, has received wide recognition.
Marilyn Nelson is the daughter of a U.S. serviceman in the Air Force and was brought up on several different military bases. Her books of poetry include The Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems and The Homeplace, both of which were finalists for the National Book Award. From 2001-2006 she served as the Poet Laureate of Connecticut.
Soldier-poet Brian Turner served seven years in the United States Army. His books include two poetry collections, Here, Bullet, which won the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award, and Phantom Noise as well as a memoir, My Life as a Foreign Country, in which he retraces his war experience in Iraq. He was featured in Operation Homecoming, a documentary that explores the firsthand accounts of American servicemen and women through their own words.
Warrior Writers is a veteran-focused arts organization whose mission is to give voice to veterans’ experiences, provide a creative community for artistic expression, and bear witness to the experiences of warriors through casual, welcoming workshops and retreats.
Combat Paper NJ, a program of the Printmaking Center of NJ, hold papermaking workshops in which veterans turn their uniforms, memories and experiences into art. The uniforms are cut up, beaten into a pulp and formed into sheets of paper. The veterans use this transformative process of papermaking to reclaim their uniforms as art and express their experiences with the military.