PSSC Presents Poetry of Warfare

PSSC serves those who have served in our armed forces, and those who serve our veterans, by bringing poetry programs to VA medical centers in Charleston.

PSSC Warrior Poets Series

November 9, 2018
Hugh Martin

Hugh Martin is a veteran of the Iraq War and the author of The Stick Soldiers (BOA Editions 2013) and the forthcoming In Country (BOA Editions 2018). He is the recipient of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship, a Yaddo residency, and a Pushcart Prize.

November 10, 2018
Poetry Seminar
Hugh Martin, "Fumbling Toward Elegy: Poetic Approaches to Post-9/11 and War"

In his essay, "Can Poetry Console a Grieving Public," Mark Doty writes that "To come too quickly to words is, ultimately, a form of arrogance. The easy poem suggests that loss is graspable, that the poet has ready command of speech in the face of anything‚ĶI believe that elegy needs to fumble its way toward what sense it can make, and that meaning wrested out of struggle—with the stubborn refusal of death to mean—is the only kind worth making." This class will explore how some poets have responded to the last seventeen-plus years, from 9/11-on, while the country has been engaged in ongoing conflicts and wars. We will discover how some poets have grappled with and written toward elegy as they’ve—gracefully and purposefully—"fumbled" throughout the process. The discussion will explore how poets write from places of "safety" and how they navigate this, aesthetically and ethically, while considering Susan Sontag’s statement: "How much easier, from one’s chair, far from danger, to claim the position of superiority." We’ll study how poets (and one filmmaker) utilize suggestion, silence, and a literal or metaphorical "ellipsis", to speak to the "unspeakable" without sensationalism, euphemism, or self-aggrandizement. The class will involve a lecture, discussion, and a writing prompt.

April 13, 2018
Bruce Weigl

Bruce Weigl, distinguished professor at Lorain County Community College, has published over a dozen award-winning poetry collections, most recently the forthcoming Poulin award-winner from BOA Editions. His has received awards from the American Academy of Poets, Pushcart, Patterson Poetry, Yaddo Foundation, Bread Loaf, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Song of Napalm was a 1988 Pulitzer nominee. Many of his poems are inspired by his time in the U.S. Army in Vietnam.

April 14, 10:00 a.m. - noon, Charleston Library Society
Poetry Seminar
Bruce Weigl, "Writing at the Juncture of Memory and Imagination."
We’ll discuss two short essays and then talk about this notion as it relates to finding the poems that are already inside of us.

April 14, 2 - 3:15 p.m.
College of Charleston, Tate Center (9 Liberty St) Room 202
Special Appearance, Bridging Between
Some of Bruce Weigl’s award-winning poems involve his experiences in the Viet Nam War. PSSC is pleased to host him for a special visit to Bridging Between, an informal group that meets at the College of Charleston North Campus to explore the literature of soldiering. This reading with Q&A is free and open to the public. Click here to read ”Song of Napalm“.

This project is supported by South Arts in partnership with the SC Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, and the North Charleston Cultural Arts Department.

February 12, 2015, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Special Event: PSSC Presents Colin D. Halloran at the
Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center

This program, focusing on the experience of returning to civilian life after deployment, is free and open to the public.
For more information, visit the VAMC website.

February 13, 2015
Colin D. Halloran with Worthy Evans

Colin D. Halloran served with the US Army, deploying as an infantryman to Afghanistan in 2006. After being medically evacuated, he returned to civilian life and earned an MFA from Fairfield University, where he now teaches. His new book of poems, Icarian Flux, is forthcoming from Main Street Rag, which in 2012 published his debut collection, Shortly Thereafter, of poems on war and redeployment.

Worthy Evans wrote Green Revolver (University of South Carolina Press, 2010) and is a self-taught collage artist. When he isn’t writing in notebooks, typing up poems, cutting up magazines, making collages, and fathering two brilliant children, he is a communications specialist for a Medicare contractor in Columbia, SC.

February 14, 2015
Seminar with Colin D. Halloran, "Poetry as Mask and Medicine: Redefining the I through Persona."
We will explore the paradigmatic shift in narrative perspective in war poetry throughout the ages, going from the invocations of the ancients, to a collective voice of national conscience in the World Wars, into a deeper, more confessional "I" starting in Vietnam. Additionally, we will look into the value that a persona can bring to poems of both political and personal trauma, and do a writing exercise.

Singer-Songwriter Paul Allen

Poet and songwriter Paul Allen received the SC Arts Commission’s Individual Artist Fellowship in Poetry, the Mary Roberts Rinehart Award (George Mason University), the Vassar Miller Poetry Prize for American Crawl, the Distinguished Research Award from The College of Charleston, and a Pushcart Prize. Ground Forces (Salmon Poetry, Ireland, 2008), poet Andrew Hudgins says, is about "brokenness and, with richly explored theological implications, everything in the broken world, the fallen world." Allen retired Professor Emeritus from the College of Charleston, and currently lives on the road in a camper.

Songwriting workshop with Paul Allen

Workshops at the VAMC

Poet Richard Garcia and memoirist Elliot Dobson conducted monthly writing workshops at the Ralph H. Johnson VAMC in Charleston.

Fall 2013
September 16, 2013, Suicide Prevention Month
October 3, 2013, Depression Awareness Month
Readings from the Canon

Presentation by PSSC Members for Veterans and Staff of the Ralph H. Johnson VAMC, organized by Mary Harris. Emily Abedon, Ed Gold, Johanna Evenson, Katherine Williams, Susan Meyers, and Mary Harris read poems from the canon during lunchtime for veterans and staff at the VAMC.

April 12, 2013
Brian Turner

Soldier-poet Brian Turner is author of two poetry collections, Phantom Noise (2010) and the award-winning Here, Bullet (2005). His poetry has been published in Poetry Daily, The Georgia Review, and other journals, and included in the documentaries Voices in Wartime and Operation Homecoming. He earned the MFA from the University of Oregon and has lived abroad in South Korea. In 2009, Turner was selected as one of fifty United States Artists Fellows.

April 13, 2013
Seminar with Brian Turner

February 10, 2012
Special Event: PSSC Presents Frank Gaspar at the
Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center

Portuguese-American Frank Gaspar was born and raised in Provincetown, Massachusetts. He is Professor Emeritus at Long Beach (CA) City College, and teaches in the MFA Program at Antioch University, Los Angeles. He has published four poetry collections, Night of a Thousand Blossoms (2004), Field Guide to the Heavens (Brittingham Prize, 1999), Mass for the Grace of a Happy Death (Anhinga Prize, 1994), and The Holyoke (Morse Prize, 1988), and several novels. His awards include an NEA fellowship, inclusion in Best American Poetry, and three Pushcart prizes.

February 11, 2012
Poetry Seminar
Frank Gaspar, "First Magic: the verbal music and internal dynamics of poems"

We will start off by learning to notice this first magic that inheres beneath subject and beyond meaning: the cadences and musicality of language and the inner tensions and dynamics between sections or stanzas that make the free verse poem a kinetic work of art. Then we’ll try to see connections between the artistry in free verse and the techniques we associate with more conventional verse forms, with a view to carrying a sense of their importance to our own writing process.

Poetry at the VA is funded in part by grants from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the South Carolina Arts Commission.

PSSC also receives generous support from the Dubose and Dorothy Heyward Memorial Fund, the John and Susan Bennett Foundation through the Coastal Community Foundation, and PSSC members.