Wednesday afternoon’s interview with Perry Woodfin at our online public radio station, WhidbeyAIR about my upcoming chapbook, Collateral Damage, from Finishing Line Press challenged and intrigued me. We explored questions about post traumatic stress and drone warfare. Perry expanded my definition of the damage trauma can inflict, and engineer Gwen Samuelson updated me on our shared D.C. hometown.
I didn’t know much about WhidbeyAIR before. I kept looking for it on my radio dial until I realized, “Duh — it’s only online.” Organized by Langley artists in the late 1980s, it aims to connect creativity on our island with the world. An all-volunteer staff keeps it up and running.
My interview with Perry will air Saturday, the 19th at 10pm, Sunday the 20th at 2pm. Otherwise, just link to WhidbeyAIR and click “Listen” to hear streaming content.
Here is a courageous book, one where men pray to rain, where men are executed in “retaliation for scorched words” that “are sacred.”When the word “heat” becomes a moving elegy and “Traffic” a boy’s name–the reader realizes that poetry’s power, its impulse, is to name the world anew despite all the sorrows–or maybe because of them. —Ilya Kaminsky
As our agonizing engagement in Afghanistan winds down, some reflection seems timely. My connection with a friend posted in Kabul and my concern for his safety led me into that turmoil. It focused my attention on the war’s actors, its reporting, its mean failures and small successes. Lesser known individuals with amazing stories riveted me. Sgt. Lynn Hill flew Predators from her base in Las Vegas, while Mohammedullah guided heavy trucks over Afghan passes with his Pepsi bottle baton. Robert Bales’ name seared our national conscience after that Panjwai massacre, and who could help loving Lt. Col. John Darin Loftis for his halting recitations of Pashto poetry.
Collateral Damage is a scrapbook of poems, of personalities who confront us with unanswered questions. What have we accomplished after 12 years in that blue land? Is it enough that we did our best to offer Afghans a chance at self-determination? Were the countless heartbreaks of loss and estrangement worth that effort? Is the effort, itself, the ultimate reward?
Talk about green. An inch-long Pacific Tree frog hides on a hydrangea leaf.
Thank you for stopping by my poetry site. I’m honored and delighted you are interested in my work.
I first began writing poetry in junior high school. It was thonking awful stuff. My first poem about Scotland went The Roman armies long ago/conquered most of the land/they could not conquer the northern part/because of barbarian bands. Several decades passed before I came back to the genre.
I woke up in 1994 with the lines to a second poem running in my mind. It was a prayer, really, written during a stressful marriage collapse. I longed for peace, solace and wrote Green:
Dripping, pendulous, saturated green,
Enfold me in your caterpillar moss mysteries,
lull me with languid cicada sounds.
Make canopies of emerald,
caverns of malachite,
Show me all your secret places
and anoint my sleep with Rousseau-like dreams
It actually won the Whidbey Island Writers’ AssociationSpirit of Writing prize for poetry. Overly encouraged, I began writing all sort of drivel about my new home in Puget Sound’s pewter world. Next local poet Lorraine Healy was good enough to include me in her Monday morning group, and I started to learn something about my craft.