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The Centennial is Here! Weekend Update April 9th: This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. WWI Centennial Site

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Writers in the WWI Centennial Commemoration Ceremony in Kansas City and Gulf War Veteran Writer Seth Brady Tucker 

WWI Ceremony Kansas CityScene from ceremony, In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace: Centennial Commemoration of the U.S. Entry into World War I

Seth Brady TuckerWWI Soldier-Writers were  "...brave in words. In this, they did not shirk their responsibilities, in this they did not turn away from the horrors, the obscenity, the awful trench warfare that gifted some of them to us as martyrs, returned some of them to us broken and ill-used but willing to speak of war honestly." 
—Seth Brady Tucker

The quote comes from this Week's WWrite Featured Post: "Dulce et Decorum Est"-Gulf War Veteran Seth Brady Tucker: Discovering WWI Poetry in an Iraqi Foxhole" This week's WWrite Blog, the first in the official WWI centenary year features Seth Brady Tucker (photo, left), Gulf War veteran and writer, author of the award-winning poetry collections about war veterans, Mormon Boy (2012) and We Deserve the Gods We Ask For (2014). Tucker gives us "Dulce et Decorum Est: Discovering WWI Poetry in an Iraqi Foxhole." Tucker talks about how he discovered WWI poetry–He first read "Dulce et Decorum Est," by Wilfred Owen...in an Iraqi foxhole. Thus began Tucker's lifelong commitment to reading and writing poetry about war. In his post, he says he learned that Owen and all other WWI soldier poets were"...brave in words. In this, they did not shirk their responsibilities, in this they did not turn away from the horrors, the obscenity, the awful trench warfare that gifted some of them to us as martyrs, returned some of them to us broken and ill-used but willing to speak of war honestly." Don't miss this eloquent tale about writing and war.

Read more: The Centennial is Here! Weekend Update April 9th: This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. WWI...

Gulf War Veteran Seth Brady Tucker: Discovering WWI Poetry in an Iraqi Foxhole

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Writer Seth Brady Tucker of the Army 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper in the Gulf War, 1990-1991.Writer Seth Brady Tucker of the Army 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper in the Gulf War, 1990-1991.

"Dulce et Decorum Est"-Gulf War Veteran Seth Brady Tucker: Discovering WWI Poetry in an Iraqi Foxhole

Seth Brady Tucker explains influence of WWI poetry on his own writing about veterans of contemporary wars.

Seth Brady Tucker with fellow soldier during Gulf War, 1990-1991.Seth Brady Tucker with fellow soldier during Gulf War, 1990-1991.One of the first war poems I ever read, like most people, was "Dulce et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen.I read that poem in a foxhole during the First Persian Gulf War, and I did not have a way to translate the title or the last line, but I guessed, incorrectly, that I knew at that point the suffering all soldiers must endure.I too recognized the flurry of activity that went with the yell of "gas!" and I knew what nerve agents would do to us, and the word on the street was that the 82nd Airborne would be going head to head with the combat-tested Republican Guard in Iraq, so I thought I knew what it might mean to die as dirty and smelly and lonely, and young, as I was then.

It was also not lost on me that I was a soldier, like Owen, and like him, that I also fancied myself a poet.It was like looking in the mirror, for just a brief moment.I remember the mindless connection I felt with Owen—we were both war poets, and like him, I would write poems that would speak over generations to future soldiers.What I did not know then was this:he had died during WWI, a hero and a poet, but a dead one. I had another mindless reaction when I discovered this:I did not want to be like Wilfred Owen.

So I started reading Siegfried Sassoon, Mary Borden, E.E. Cummings, Ford Madox Ford, Rainer Maria Rilke, Robert Service, Gertrude Stein, then the WWII poets, all the way up to our contemporaries.Some of these war poets survive, some of them do not.Some are brave in combat or service, some are not.All of them, however, are brave in words.In this, they did not shirk their responsibilities, in this they did not turn away from the horrors, the obscenity, the awful trench warfare that gifted some of them to us as martyrs, returned some of them to us broken and ill-used but willing to speak of war honestly.

Manuscript of Wilfred Owen's poem "Dulce et Decorum Est," one of the most well-known poems of WWI literature. Owen was killed in action one week before the Armistice was signed in 1918.Manuscript of Wilfred Owen's poem "Dulce et Decorum Est," one of the most well-known poems of WWI literature. Owen was killed in action one week before the Armistice was signed in 1918.Their voices are trapped for us in poems that have lasted a full hundred years, and will be there for our ancestors a thousand years from now.As a poet who writes about soldiers and war, I doubt I will get that sort of billing—no one will remember my war but the economists and historians, examining the fall of a great empire—but every word I write carries with it, I believe, all the heavy burdens of those like Owen, who were stripped of their right to question the morality of the wars in which they fought.I consider myself lucky that I am allowed this luxury—in my mind, WWI snuffed the life from Owen, a poet who would most likely have become the world's most famous poet—just imagine writing some of the most recognizable poems the world has ever known, over the course of a year in combat, at the age of twenty-four.It is astounding.

So, I write about soldiers and war, and I do this with as much humility as I can muster—my hope that I can honor those who came before, walking the wide road they have broken for us, while blazing a trail, however narrow, for those who will follow.

 

 

Author's Bio

Seth Brady TuckerSeth Brady Tucker's second poetry collection, "We Deserve the Gods We Ask For (2014)," won the Gival Press Poetry Award and in 2015 it won the Eric Hoffer Book Award. His first book, "Mormon Boy," won the 2011 Elixir Press Editor's Poetry Prize (published in 2012), and was a Finalist for the 2013 Colorado Book Award. Most recently, he was a finalist for the Narrative Magazine Story Prize, and in 2015, his fiction was a "Special Mention" for the 2015 Pushcart Anthology (Iowa Review, "The Mountain Man's Relativity Theory"). He has also won the Shenandoah Bevel Summers Fiction Prize and the Literal Latte Short Fiction Award. His poetry and fiction has been published in such magazines and journals as the Iowa Review, Shenandoah, Poetry Northwest, Verse Daily, Apalachee Review, River Styx, Chattahoochee Review, storySouth, Crab Orchard Review, among many others. Seth is founder and co-director of the Seaside Writers' Conference, and he has served as the Carol Houck Smith Poetry Scholar at Bread Loaf, and the Tennessee Williams Fiction Scholar at Sewanee. Seth has degrees in English Literature and Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, Northern Arizona University, and Florida State University (PhD, 2012). Currently, he teaches poetry and fiction workshops at the Lighthouse Writers' Workshop in Denver, at the Colorado School of Mines, and he is the senior prose editor for the Tupelo Quarterly Review. He is originally from Wyoming, and served as an Army 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper in the Persian Gulf.

Fulbright Scholar and WWI Poetry Expert, Connie Ruzich, Presents Lt. John Hunter Wickersham

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 "Raindrops on Your Old Tin Hat:"  Lt. John Hunter Wickersham-a Lost Voice, a Faded Poem

 Wickersham photo on homepagesJohn Hunter Wickersham
“The A.E.F. was about the most sentimental outfit that ever lived.  Most of it—so it seemed to anyone who served on the staff of The Stars and Stripes—wrote poetry.  All of it read poetry.”
                                                            --John T. Winterich, Yanks: A.E.F. Verse, 1919

 While many American Doughboys of the First World War were poets, only 119 were awarded America’s highest military decoration, the Congressional Medal of Honor.  Lt. John Hunter Wickersham was both a poet and a CMH hero. 

In the first week of September 1918, American forces prepared to attack German positions in the St. Mihiel sector of northeastern France. The historian of the 353rd Regiment, 89th Division, recalled, “Each day had brought increasing signs of ‘something doin’ in the near future….Big guns were being pulled into place day and night….At dusk [Sept 11th] the different outfits began to move to their jumping off places.  The roads were crowded with men….It was a dark night; a cold rain was falling—now a drizzle, now a downpour; the bottom of the trenches held water ankle deep.”

Read more: Fulbright Scholar and WWI Poetry Expert, Connie Ruzich, Presents Lt. John Hunter Wickersham

Weekend Update March 26th: This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. WWI Centennial Site

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Kayla Williams, Publication of The Road Ahead, and More Women's History Month Reading Suggestions

Love My RifleThis Week's WWrite Featured Post: Equal Pay, Equal Benefits:Acclaimed Veteran Writer Kayla Williams Presents Loretta Perfectus Walsh, the First Enlisted Woman in the U.S. Military This week's WWrite Blog, the third in the Women's History Month series, features veteran writer Kayla Williams as she presents Loretta Perfectus Walsh, the first enlisted woman in the U.S. Military. Williams is the director of the Center for Women Veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and author of the acclaimed memoir, Love My Rifle More Than You. In her post, Williams discusses the pathbreaking military career of Loretta Perfectus Walsh in WWI. She was the first woman to officially enlist, as a woman, earning equal pay and benefits. Not to be missed!

Connie Ruzich, Fulbright Scholar, writer, and author of the WWI poetry blog, Behind Their Lines, will introduce CMH hero and WWI poet, Lt. John Hunter Wickersham, for next week's blog post.

Read more: Weekend Update March 26th: This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. WWI Centennial Site

Equal Pay, Equal Benefits: Acclaimed Veteran Writer Kayla Williams Presents Loretta Perfectus Walsh, the First Enlisted Woman in the U.S. Military

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Equal Pay, Equal Benefits:Acclaimed Veteran Writer Kayla Williams Presents Loretta Perfectus Walsh, the First Enlisted Woman in the U.S. Military
Loretta Walsh credit www.doncio.navy .mil 247x300

When I enlisted in the Army in 2000, my pay was identical to that of all other servicemembers with my same rank and time in service. It did not occur to me at the time that this not only put the military in stark contrast to many other career fields, but was also the result of trailblazing women who paved the way for the rest of us. (Left photo, Loretta Walsh, credit www.doncio.navy.mil)


Loretta Perfectus Walsh was the first. Not the first woman to fight on behalf of America – that honor dates all the way back to the Revolutionary War – but the first to officially enlist, as a woman, earning equal pay and benefits. Earlier, women served either alongside their husbands or disguised as men (in an era of, shall we say, more relaxed entrance examinations!). Later, they could serve in one of the Nurse Corps – but without equal pay, benefits, and rank.

Read more: Equal Pay, Equal Benefits: Acclaimed Veteran Writer Kayla Williams Presents Loretta Perfectus...

March 19th WWrite Blog Weekend Update - This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. WWI Centennial Site

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This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. WWI Centennial Site: Jerri Bell, Women Veterans Writing Workshop, and Women's History Month Reading Suggestions

MJS1987This Week's WWrite Featured Post: Jerri Bell writes about Marjory Stoneman Douglas For the second Women's History Month post, Navy veteran and writer Jerri Bell discusses the dynamic career of female WWI veteran, Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Bell introduces the undiscovered richness of Douglas' long life (she died at 108!) as a prolific writer, Naval servicewoman in WWI, and political and environmental activist. What a story! (Photo left: Marjory Stoneman Douglas in 1987. Credit: Mary Lou Foy/The Miami Herald).

Williams will write about Loretta Walsh, the first woman to join the Navy, for next week's blog post.

Read more: March 19th WWrite Blog Weekend Update - This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. WWI Centennial Site

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