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parsed(2017-08-14) - pubdate: 2017-08-14
pub date: 1502686800
today: 1713243600, pubdate > today = false

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Slow War

August 14, 2017 | Trade paperback
ISBN: 9780773551428
Reader Reward Price: $17.96 info
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Benjamin Hertwig's debut collection of poetry, Slow War, is at once an account of contemporary warfare and a personal journey of loss and the search for healing. It stands in the tradition of Wilfred Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est" and Kevin Powers's "Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting." A century after the First World War, Hertwig presents both the personal cost of war in poems such as "Somewhere in Flanders/Afghanistan" and "Food Habits of Coyotes, as Determined by Examination of Stomach Contents," and the potential for healing in unlikely places in "A Poem Is Not Guantánamo Bay." This collection provides no easy answers - Hertwig looks at the war in Afghanistan with the unflinching gaze of a soldier and the sustained attention of a poet. In his accounting of warfare and its difficult aftermath on the homefront, the personal becomes political. While these poems inhabit both experimental and traditional forms, the breakdown of language channels a descent into violence and an ascent into a future that no longer feels certain, where history and trauma are forever intertwined. Hertwig reminds us that remembering war is a political act and that writing about war is a way we remember.

About this Author

Benjamin Hertwig is a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces, a painter, and a PhD student at the University of British Columbia whose writing has recently appeared on NPR, in the New York Times, and won a National Magazine Award in 2017.

ISBN: 9780773551428
Format: Trade paperback
Series: The Hugh MacLennan Poetry
Pages: 134
Publisher: McGill-Queen's University Press
Published: 2017-08-14


"We are occasionally lucky enough to encounter a writer we need, like Benjamin Hertwig, who offers solidarity while challenging our assumptions, who illuminates and shades our lives in surprising ways. After reading these poems I can't imagine a world without them." John K. Samson, musician and editor, author of Lyrics and Poems, 1997-2012

"Hertwig touches on some of our deepest national myths, only to push in, breaking the veneer of patriotism to reveal something much more potent." CV2

"I know of few books that deal with the experience of combat in such a humane and almost tender way. Benjamin Hertwig's Slow War is a powerful and moving work of art." John Skoyles, poetry editor of Ploughshares, author of Suddenly It's Evening

"Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was once called "soldier's heart." The term may not be scientifically precise, but it's metaphorically apt. Benjamin Hertwig served in the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan, and this hard-hitting debut collection is the record of a soldier's heart, before, during and after war. The "before" poems have an elegiac sense of distance, while the combat poems have a jarring immediacy: the lines stutter and break into fragments. In "First Shot," Hertwig writes of the confusing surge of emotion when he shoots at the driver of a taxi following their convoy too closely: "you've never felt this way before shame euphoria, the first/time you saw a body without clothes, your order was to shoot." Poems about returning to civilian life bear poignant witness to how war has changed him: "When you returned from the war, you didn't/think of the dead much. you wanted to be/a child again."" Toronto Star

"Hertwig touches on some of our deepest national myths, only to push in, breaking the veneer of patriotism to reveal something much more potent." CV2

"In this collection, Hertwig remembers, in lyrical detail, moments of violence, fear, and respite. He traces violence from the schoolyard to war, and its aftermath for the soldier. The consequences of the indiscriminate violence of war are made delicate in spite of an uneasiness with making poetry of it." Montreal Review of Books

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