Author Paul David Adkins Introduces Dispatches From The FOB
Author Paul David Adkins Introduces Dispatches From The FOB
“Expect established perspectives to be unsettled and destabilized. Expect the signage to mean both too much and too little. Expect the raw, the deadened, and the tense, as individuals find themselves caught between graphic and meaning."
About the Book
Paul David Adkins’ Dispatches from the FOB anthology includes a new collection of poems previously unpublished in book form and two complete poetry volumes from the popular books, Flying Over Baghdad With Sylvia Plath: Experiences, Through Poetry, With Poets And Poems In Iraq And Afghanistan and FM 101-5-1 MCRP 5-2A: Operational Terms and Graphics. With clear-headed storytelling and attention to detail, Adkins adds an important voice capturing the mundanity, brutality, fear, boredom and banality of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. These poems speak to the daily tension and grind, the stress of distance from home and family. When the importance of poetry is questioned, the poems in Dispatches from the FOB by Paul David Adkins provide an unequivocal answer.
Poetry / Military Service / Iraq / Afghanistan
Dimensions: 5 x 8 inches | 230 pages | $14.00
Introduction by Paul David Adkins
Each soldier’s wartime deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan produced different experiences. For me, I existed in two disparate spheres: the operational and the literary. On the operational side, every work day (12 to 20 hours), I examined documents, analyzed and composed reports, studied events of varying brutality, ferocity, and lethality. Some days, I heard explosions. Some days, those explosions were close. On the literary side, if I possessed the energy, I would retreat to my sleep area and read the poetry collections which accompanied me to the Middle East. Some of them further unsettled me, while others bolstered my will to fulfill the duties I had to complete, and fly home to my family.
When I returned to the United States, I felt compelled to contemplate and record both the mundane and inhumane acts I understood, found in FM 101-5-1 Operational Terms and Graphics, incorporated into the kaleidoscopic mosaic of “me.” Poetry, that literary sphere, transformed from a source of figurative sustenance to one of physical criticality, a cornea through which I viewed what I saw and knew to exist in the operational arena. The authors within Flying Over Baghdad With Sylvia Plath: Experiences, Through Poetry, with Poets and Poems in Iraq and Afghanistan, and many others who bravely faced their own experiences (Allison Pitinii Davis, Claudia Cortese, and Susan Harper Slaviero, for example) encouraged me to explore, sift, and excavate the blur of 2002-2010 in the solitude and reflection great literature provides.
I incorporated these two collections and included additional poems which I believe help serve a bridge between the two books. In the end, my experiences forced these disparate universes, operational and literary, to coexist. I found the world to be hard, but livable. And I found these writers living in the same, hard world, lifting to their mouths scraps of meat pulled straight from the fires of their own making.
"Writing from the front line, this poet has created a strategy for peace. When he finds those who are buried in the detritus of any war, anywhere, he lowers the “ropes of light” — his words — that bring them out of dark places into the best company, the circle of those who understand because they have been there." – Lynn Butler Schiffhorst, Author of Planting The Voice: Poems from Poems
“War poetry finally stopped glorifying bloodshed roughly a hundred years ago, and ragged, honest voices began to sing instead. In this blessedly peculiar and luminous book of poems, Paul David Adkins, a soldier and a poet, begs for another song. His tour of duty was also a tour of reading—in his barracks were the books by contemporary poets who did nothing short of save his life. For this soldier, the deep empathy poetry evoked transformed “the enemy” back into an innocent human who was, therefore, spared his bullet. I cannot recall a book that so authentically traces just how, exactly, poetry is a matter of life or death.” – Katie Ford, Author of Blood Lyrics
"Paul David Adkins takes us to the experience of war and counters war’s pressures through poetry. These poems speak to the daily tension and grind, the stress of distance from home and family. When the importance of poetry is questioned, these poems provide an unequivocal answer." – Joannie Stangeland, Author of In Both Hands
“Paul David Adkins is a veteran and poet who knows a war zone’s brutality, beauty, humanity, and odd moments of levity. Adkins’ straightforward language serves to disarm before the gut punch; his clear-headed storytelling and attention to detail adds another important voice to what we know of war and war’s leavings, and how all who survive it are changed. These are people and poems I will carry with me for a long time, and gladly." – Karen Skolfield, US Army Veteran, Author of Frost in the Low Areas
“Paralleling the symbology that so deftly augments his verse, Adkins evokes a distinctive period of surge operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom with restrained elegance. Intuitively, Adkins counters the potential strangeness of military subject and terminology by exploring themes and scenes with which we are universally conversant. Regret, resignation, exhaustion, boredom, absurdity, rage, Adkins’ subjects shoulder wartime burdens with a vulnerability that is intensely human. Foregoing the bravado of traditional frontline narratives, Adkins gives voice to a wide cast of supporting players. In this collection we hear from bereft wives, Iraqi schoolboys, logistic contract workers, forgotten tower guards and terrorized translators. Adkins’ remarkably candid insights are as inborn to the collective OIF deployment experience as the rasping sibilance of boots on gravel.” – Molly Hurd, US Army, Iraq War Veteran, Two-Time Bronze Star Recipient
“Quietly and honestly, Adkins’s poems capture the mundanity, brutality, fear, boredom and banality of our current "wars." Heroics take a back seat, as an intense struggle to understand takes the front. Expect established perspectives to be unsettled and destabilized. Expect the signage to mean both too much and too little. Expect the raw, the deadened, and the tense, as individuals find themselves caught between graphic and meaning." – Lucy Logsdon, Poetry Editor and Tutor