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The Stick Soldiers is 'approachable, necessary' -War Literature & the Arts

StickSoldiers_Bookstore According to War Literature & the Arts reviewer M. K. Sukach, a member of the United States Air Force Academy, The Stick Soldiers (BOA, 2013) "reveal[s] Iraq in all its real and imagined dangers in a language that is somber, angry, deeply reflective, but also intensely, if not darkly humorous." The collection is an "approachable, necessary volume of poems about what it was like to prepare for war, serve in Iraq, and return to Ohio 'a body / much less / without the plated-vest, the ammo.'" Calling Hugh Martin "a keenly observant, thoughtful poet who makes purposeful choices," the review notes that while a perfect world would have no need for war poems, "Martin's poems are a sign that we still understand our humanity even if we do not necessarily privilege it above our proclivity for war." Commenting on the book's title poem, Sukach says, "Stick figures are the simplest of images, yet this poem presents the complexity of a war in which it was not often easy to tell where danger was, who or where the enemy might have been, which side was perceived to be good, which evil." The Stick Soldiers To soldiers, I hope the war is fine. --Girl Scout Troop 472 The children have colored the cards, dated from December, with Christmas trees, piles of presents, snowmen smiling, waving. Sara wants a doll. Evan, a dog. Kyle promises to pray for us. ....................................................... A stick soldier holds a machine gun; he waves at us, us, in the Humvees. Further down the wall, a stick man holds an RPG aimed toward the Humvee, the waving soldier’s head— what the children want for Christmas, or what they just want.

“…Martin’s book represents at least the attempt to narratively structure his experience of war—wars which all begin, develop, and eventually end; yet for the soldier are too often never a ‘structured’ experience and for some may begin and develop, but never end. I think we are always trying to tell stories … [Martin’s poems] bring us closer to understanding the soldiers and the wars they fought and continue to fight.”

Click here to read the entire War Literature & the Arts review. To order a copy of Hugh Martin's The Stick Soldiers, visit the BOA Bookstore.
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