Justin and Megan’s interview addresses the need for veteran literature and literary outreach in general, and, in insightful and revealing detail, they break down the process of creating and editing Incoming, both the book and the episodes of the radio show.
[W]e’d like to see the literary industry become much more populist in general, willing to invest more in developing voices and mentoring them rather than just waiting for finished novels and memoirs to show up at their door, because the majority of those come from people of privilege and education, which results in a monotone body of works available. If people aren’t reading enough, I believe it’s because they’re not seeing their lives reflected in the stories being shoved at them.
I believe the Incoming project—as much media as funding allows us to generate through it—is good for our democracy, to “bridge the gap” as the oft-used phrase goes, between the small minority that carries the burden for their entire country’s foreign policy, and the rest in order for them to understand the world they’re living in.
Read the rest here: http://wlajournal.com/wlaarchive/28/kahn.pdf
Thank you Megan and all at WLA. The issue of WLA Journal also features poetry, fiction, memoir, art, other interviews, critical essays, lectures, reviews, and more. And for you veteran writers out there, they accept submissions year round, so send them your work!
“What they have to say is often unbearable, sometimes hilarious, always compelling, and cinematic.” – Robin Young, NPR’s Here and Now.
The book that launched the public radio series is officially available! Featuring many of the contributors you’ve heard already, along with several you’ll hear when Incoming returns to the air this summer, Incoming: Veteran Writers on Returning Home is one of the most important new collections of modern war literature available. Featuring the true, poignant, funny, and brutally honest accounts by American veterans of their experience returning to civilian life, this collection stands as a beautiful piece of literature, an important historical document, and a powerful tool to help bridge the divide between civilians and their military.
Here’s how you can get your hands on it and help the project:
– Buy the book!
– On Goodreads: mark the book as to-read, and once you’ve read it, rate it!
– Like the Incoming Facebook page!
– Ask your friends to contribute to our fund to finish the Incoming Radio series!
– If you’re going to AWP LA this week: come visit So Say We All at table 438! We’ll have copies of the book (along with other titles from our catalogue in supply), the officers of the organization will be there to shake your hand, and a full handle of decent rye whiskey is under the table that we’ll be happy to tip back with you.
– If you work in education and you think this important book will serve your classroom, contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for the special education bulk rate, so we can get this title in your students’ hands as easily as possible.
Thank you all for being supporters of the written and spoken word, and helping So Say We All serve those who have served us all.
– Justin Hudnall, Executive Director
Lisbeth Prifogle knows herself by a couple different names. “Libby” is the name she’s given to the softer parts of herself she worries she’s lost in Iraq. The Marine Corps.’s Captain Prifogle was a creature of perpetual physical exertion, running miles every day along her base’s landing strip, training in martial arts for hours, and working the rest of the time until she was exhausted enough to fall asleep without the energy to think. Now that she’s back home, with all the time in the world for her brain to do what brain’s do, Lisbeth has returned to the writing she pursued before joining the Marines, and I find her exceptionally skilled at articulating the disaffection and anger many veterans I know feel towards the civilian world they come home to, in a way that’s both unapologetically honest and vulnerable. But let’s see what you think. Visiting us here at KPBS all the way from Louisiana, here’s Lisbeth.
We’re spending this episode on two stories and a talk with Anthony Moll, now a lecturer at the University of Baltimore, formerly with the US Army Military Police K9 Section among other assignments. One of those other assignments included serving as a trainer for the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DODT) policy, which had to have been somewhat of a loaded, fraught, maybe even subversive experience for him I like to think, because Anthony identifies as queer and has since before he joined the Army. So with the unique perspective as one of the last generations to serve, if not completely in the closet, then with much judicial weight placed on how out they could be, we’ll let Anthony tell you the rest.
- Benjamin Busch – “Home Invasion” & “Ash”
Talking with Benjamin Busch really helps motivate a person to get outside their comfort zone and try all of the 31 flavors of life.
He’s a filmmaker, having written and directed the movie, “BRIGHT,” a photographer, a writer whose memoir, “Dust to Dust,” was published by Ecco/HarperCollins in 2012 and who’s essays have appeared in Harper’s, New York Times Magazine, and Newsweek among others. He’s an actor, best known for playing Officer Anthony Colicchio in The Wire, and Major Todd Eckloff in Generation Kill. And filling the time before and round all this, Ben served 16 years as an infantry and light armor reconnaissance officer, including the battle for Ramadi, and as defacto Mayor of the Iraqi town of Najit during the occupation.
Among his many other pursuits nowadays, he teaches at the MFA Program of Sierra Nevada College, where many of the contributors to this show have studied. So yeah, time to make that dream board I’ve been neglecting on my wall a little more filled out, and while I’m doing that, check out our episode with Ben from when we caught up with him over the summer of 2015. – Justin.
Today’s episode of Incoming has a very precise theme going for it: Navy vets with established literary and artistic reputations, who live in San Diego, and who do us favors when I ask them to. Favors like appearing on this show.
Out the gate we’re hanging out with Rolf Yngve, who rose from seaman to captain during a thirty-five year active-duty career in the US Navy, in which he served as a surface warfare officer, commanded a destroyer, served as the US Defense Attaché to Rome, and deployed for naval operations at sea with eleven different ships and staffs.
Then, to round out our time together, we bring back that Swiss Army Knife of talent, the musician, the poet, the host, the producer, and most recently, the playwright you have to be living under a rock not to have heard of if you live here in San Diego where we produce Incoming, Mr. Gill Sotu, who responded to our call for works on the theme of coming home with not one but two knock out poems, the first of which you might have caught back on episode 2. Once is never enough though, so here’s your second helping of Mr. Gill Sotu.
Mariah Smith – “I Write to You From Kandahar Again.”
Today’s episode will be spent with Major Mariah Smith, who, in the time between when we recorded in the spring of 2015 and our air date of November the same year, transitioned from her post at Fort Bragg to the Pentagon’s Congressional liaison office. Mariah is fifteen years in to completing a life-long career in the Army, having joined before 9/11, and completed six tours since. She’s far too humble to say it in these words, but she was part of history earlier this year as one of the very first female candidates to participate in the Army’s integrated Ranger school. We’re willing to wager you’d be hard pressed to find someone who wouldn’t feel better knowing the armed forces have Smith among their ranks, and as you’ll hear in her story and interview, her voice is remarkably candid and vulnerable on subjects such as finding an identity outside of the military, the struggle to maintain relationships while serving, and her dedication to seeing a fully integrated military. But don’t take our word for it, give a listen.
Brian Turner – Selected works.
Today, we’re spending the next twenty some minutes with Brian Turner, playing clips from our fall 2015 conversation along with three selected works from his collections. Brian is sometimes introduced in shorthand as, “the poet laureate of veteran writers,” though he has plenty of actual awards and accolades to his name.
His collection, “Here, Bullet,” won the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award, and his following collection, “Phantom Noise,” was shortlisted for the 2010 TS Eliot Prize. He received the 2006 PEN Center USA “Best in the West” Literary Award in Poetry. But before he became one of the best known post-9/11 veteran writers, he was Sgt. Turner, serving in the Iraq War with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry, and with the 10th Mountain Division in Bosnia and Herzegovina prior.
As of our air date, he serves as the MFA Program Chair at Sierra Nevada College, where many of the writers on this show studied under him, and it’s that perspective as a teacher of returning veterans that made us especially eager to talk with him.
His selected readings include “AB Negative; the Surgeon’s Poem,” in which he brings us into a scene unfolding in the space above Iraq, in a flying hospital as it medivacs a wounded soldier, and the surgeon whose world depends on saving her. Then, in an excerpt from, “My Life As A Foreign Country,” he brings us along as he enters a house, one of many he and his soldiers entered during their tour, taking the time to inventory all that brought with them and all that they leave behind once they finally, inevitably, depart. His final reading, “Insignia,” is prefaced by the statistic that one in three female soldiers will experience sexual assault during their time in the military, an appropriate intro into a portrait of a woman-in-uniform who has had more taken from her than anyone should ever be asked to give, especially in service to their country.
Samuel Abel – “Waking Up For School”
LCMD Liam Corley – “Getting the Good News”
The fourth episode of Incoming begins with combat medic Samuel Abel explaining the moment-by-moment process he talks himself through on a daily basis while navigating the rigors of attending college, all the while carrying the triggers, memories, and ghosts from his time served in-country.
Then, Lieutenant Commander Liam Corley, an active duty academic and intelligence officer, examines the very specific and unique situation of waiting, seemingly without end, among the bizarre creature comforts that can only be found in a war zone at a USO, waiting until the bombing runs let up just long enough to allow for a flight off that will take him back home from Afghanistan.