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Hugh Martin discusses Iraq war experiences with 'The Takeaway'

"Whether you believed in it or not, whether you voted for it or not, it happened and the veterans exist and the Iraqis exist." —Hugh Martin

IMG_3756 BOA Poulin Prize-winner and Iraq war veteran Hugh Martin was featured recently on The Takeaway with John Hockenberry, for his forthcoming collection The Stick Soldiers (BOA, April 2013), to be released on the 10th anniversary of the U.S. Invasion of Iraq. Included on The Takeaway is an audio interview with Martin, which was aired nationally, as well as an article. In the almost-eight minute audio interview, Martin recalls his experiences with the war, the aftermath, and how the war changed him. While in training, and eventually while deployed overseas, Martin knew that he would need to share his war experiences. “Even before I came home,” says Martin, “I knew I wanted to talk about it somehow.” Upon his return to civilian life, Martin found poetry to be his outlet. “[Poetry] can be the most effective way to communicate the complexities of any war, especially something as complicated as the Iraq War," says Martin. His poem "First Snow" is a depiction of the anxiety that came with his immediate adjustment to life separate from the war:
I’m driving on a road that will not explode. Out the window, stiff white pines huddle above the wall of limestone torn with dynamite to make space for the three lanes of 77 North.
"That was obviously one of the biggest threats," Martin tells The Takeaway, "...just looking at the ground and knowing that at any point it could explode. Looking at even a dead animal or a carcass on the road…it could explode and a car could explode…anything could explode. I know it took a few years after I came home to kind of get over the fact that, you know, nothing here is going to explode again." The Takeaway show is a co-production of WNYC Radio and Public Radio International, in collaboration with New York Times Radio and WGBH Boston. Listen to the full interview, here. Pre-order your own copy of The Stick Soldiers, today!
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