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Monday, March 31, 2008

What Is A Warrior Poet: Opportunities for Soldiers to Express Themselves

Guest blogger today is Kristin Johnson (no relation), founder of the Poet Warrior Project. I hope you'll take a moment to pass the opportunity for expression that she offers on to the soldiers you know.

(S)words and the Mighty Pen

By Kristin Johnson

I believe in our military. I believe in the extraordinary eloquence that asserts itself during trials of character.

I have written about make-believe battles, and even real ones such as in the history of Ancient Greece, Athenians versus Spartans. But my imaginings of what Pericles, leader of Athens, or Archidamus, King of Sparta, or Sophocles, who was a general or Strategos in the Athenian military, are just that. Imaginings. The Ancient Greek battles are all in my screenplay, "Pericles," which was my University of Southern California Master of Professional Writing thesis in 1999 but started at the University of Michigan Residential College.

I have written about battles great and small. I've written about them in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, as well as screenplays. I've earned awards and accolades. However, I find myself shamed by the eloquence of modern-day poets who channel Sophocles' spark. Poets such as PFC Jamie Goldstein, who in 2005 inspired the Poet Warrior Project, which once existed as a Web site. However, since our soldiers are blogging (as seen on The History Channel's "Band of Bloggers,", I decided to rework the Poet Warrior Project into a blog.

What is the Poet Warrior Project? It showcases poetry written by current and former soldiers, from the Korean War to the War on Terror. My guiding philosophy can be summed up thus:

"It is the soldier, not the poet who has given us freedom of speech."--Father Denis Edward O'Brien.

It is also the soldier who often gives us raw gold in his (or her) words. Sergeant Charles E.G. Harding, Sergeant Aaron M. Gilbert, Red Dog, Kurt W. Hearth, Tucker Smallwood, Jim Kirk (a Vietnam Vet---no joke), and especially the wonderful Lloyd A. King, will astound you with their words, as they have moved me. Even if Vietnam still causes immediate mental meltdown, I invite you to respect the words of the soldiers who lived through it:

As I state in a March blog entry, I'd like to invite the soldier-blogger-writers to submit poems. Contact me (or leave a comment) and you can be a Guest Poet Warrior on my blog,! I'm waiting to hear from you and give your poems a voice, This applies to loved ones of Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, and Coast Guard---PFC Jamie A. Goldstein's mother submitted the poem that started it all.

I believe in our military and I believe in their families. I also believe in people like my extraordinary, beautiful Carolyn, who has given me the opportunity to speak to you today. Profile:
Carolyn Howard-Johnson wrote the foreword for Eric Dinyer's book of patriotic quotations, Support Our Troops, published by Andrews McMeel. Part of the proceeds for the book benefit Fisher House. Her chapbook of poetry won the Military Writers Society of America's award of excellence.

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