A Call To Words

Veterans and why they write

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the end of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. To honor our veterans, BkMk Press, part of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, is holding two free events in early November at Park University and Johnson County Community College, with support from New Letters magazine, New Letters on the Air, Rezvets, and The Writers Place.

These events also celebrate BkMk’s rerelease of Last Lambs: New and Selected Poems of Vietnam by Bill Bauer. Bauer and H.C. Palmer, another poet and Vietnam-era veteran, will take part in conversations moderated by New Letters on the Air producer, Angela Elam.  They also will read their poetry and discuss how writing has helped them find meaning in their post-war lives.

Working with BkMk Press are Johnson County Community College’s Veterans Services  and Park University’s Warrior Center.  The events are at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 5th at Park University’s Meetin’ House; and 7 p.m. Thursday, November 7th at JCCC’s Hudson Auditorium, with a reception following at Café Tempo. No reservations are required.

“An Orwellian experience,” is how Bauer described coming home. “I was never debriefed. They checked my teeth and gave me a blood test for venereal diseases.”

At the heart of the November events is the desire to promote writing as a way for soldiers to re-enter civilian life while reflecting on their military experiences. This desire is behind The Writers Place’s vision of a veterans’ writing group, and a key concern of another co-sponsor, Rezvets, a Church of the Resurrection program serving veterans. Palmer is a Rezvets member and advocate.

“Writing about my experiences,” he said, “brought healing.”

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