To honor National Poetry Month, below are poems by twenty-two American writers whose poems reflect and engage America’s twenty-first century wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, directly, indirectly, or possibly only in my mind. They run the gamut from the nation’s poet-laureate to MFA-honed to raw, and are written by veterans, spouses, and interested civilian observers, but they’re all great individually and collectively they articulate the nation’s crazy play of emotions as it sought redress for the sting of the 9/11 attacks. Many thanks to the authors for writing them and much love also for online media sites that feature poets and poetry–please read them, support them, share them, and spread the word.
The links should take you directly to each of the poems, except for Jeremy Stainthorp Berggren’s and Maurice Decaul’s, which are featured on the Warrior Writers page. An additional click on “Writing” will get you in the ballpark, and you can figure it out from there.
1. Chantelle Bateman, “PTSD.” Apiary Magazine.
2. Jeremy Stainthorp Berggren, “Real Vet, Fake Vet.” Warrior Writers.
3. Benjamin Busch, “Madness in the Wild.” Slippery Elm.
4. Eric Chandler, “Maybe I Should Have Lied.” Ash and Bones.
5. Maurice Decaul, “Shush.” Warrior Writers.
6. Jehanne Dubrow, “Much Tattooed Sailor Aboard the USS New Jersey.” poets.org.
7. Elyse Fenton, “Word from the Front.” Reed Magazine.
8. Amalie Flynn, “Where” and “Know.” New York Times.
9. Colin D. Halloran, “I Remember.” Drunken Boat.
10. Victor Inzunza, “The Part of Ourselves We’re Afraid Of.” Pacific Review.
11. Hugh Martin, “Ways of Looking at an IED.” Blackbird.
12. Phil Metres, “Hung Lyres (for Mohamedou Ould Slahi).” Poets Reading the News.
13. Dunya Mikhail, “The Iraqi Nights.” Poetry Foundation.
14. Jenny Pacanowski, “Strength in Vulnerability.” Women Veterans’ Rhetoric.
15. Robert Pinsky, “The Forgetting.” Poetry in Multimedia.
16. Kevin Powers, “Improvised Explosive Device.” Bookanista.
17. Roy Scranton, “And nevermore shall we turn back to the 7-11.” Painted Bride Quarterly.
18. Solmaz Sharif, “Look.” PEN America.
19. Charlie Sherpa, “Toward an understanding of war and poetry told (mostly) in aphorisms.” Wrath-Bearing Tree.
20. Juliana Spahr, “December 2, 2002.” poets.org.
21. Brian Turner, “At Lowe’s Home Improvement Center.” Poetry Daily.
22. Paul Wasserman, “Fifteen Months, Twenty-Two Days.” Time Now.