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Fall issue - "Embattled: The Ramifications of War"
September 09, 2015
Though many people have not directly experienced the pain of war, everyone lives in a world molded by the legacy of past wars, the implications of current wars, and the possibility of future ones. As one of the necessary realities of our world, war has always played a defining role in the human experience—from the earliest battlefields to modern warfare—as people put their lives on the line for a cause or are inadvertently caught up in the violence. Understanding war is crucial to understanding how we as humans live. What is our relationship to war? How does war push the human body and mind to their limits? How do we come to terms with separation and death? These are all questions that the poetry and prose in our Fall issue — "Embattled: The Ramifications of War" — grapple with.
Fiction editor Suzanne McConnell's foreword describes some of the powerful writing featured in the issue:
We offer work about soldiering’s discipline, costs, fears, and dilemmas. In the story “Outpost” by Adam Padgett, a soldier in the Korean War is ordered, for the first time, to kill. In “Quartering,” poet Seema Reza suggests, “When the soldier knocks on your door…let him enter.” He will begin to “tell you stories in which violence is the setting, not the point…”
“Like most combat veterans,” Frank Walters writes in the essay “The Wave that Tears at Us,” “I find myself in a complicated relationship with the past. The desire to move on and forget rubs against memory, and the abrasions sometimes get raw.” In the magnificent story by R.T. Jamison, “Trees and Other Things We Might See from the Parade Grounds,” a vet sustains himself on the “[l]ies we tell ourselves and others.” Fleda Brown’s poem “Lesson” states that there is “No limit to what’s been cut out to save ourselves.”
The toll that absence and loss takes on families, the skewed reasons people go to war, and the hand that fate plays permeate these pages. “Tug-o-War” by Brenda Jernigan depicts the terrible sorrow of a mother whose late-life and only child joined up and was killed: “He kept saying, ‘It’s for Daddy.’ Like we was fighting cancer over there in Iraq.” In “Flat Mommy,” by Shawne Steiger, a child tells about the substitution of a cardboard cutout for his deployed mother: “Flat Mommy…stays right where we put her no matter what.”
The issue also features writing by Chard deNiord, Jehanne Dubrow, Hal Sirowitz, Charlie Bondhus, Sahar Delijani, Chris Edwards-Pritchard, Goldie Goldbloom, and many others.