According to American Microreviews and Interviews, Hugh Martin's debut collection of contemporary war poetry "joins a growing field of contemporary war poetry that includes Brian Turner, Seth Brady Tucker, and others. The Stick Soldiers gives readers a broad sense of his experience in basic training, deployment, combat, and return to civilian life." Selected by Cornelius Eady as winner of the A. Poulin, Poetry Prize, Martin "helps establish the point that like any soldier, there are prewar and postwar moments, too." Reviewer Mark Allen Jenkins claims that much of the collection's strength comes from Martin's exploration of the relationships between soldiers, as well as the difference between the expectation of war and the actual reality of war. The poem "Nights in the Quadrilateral Pool of Sawdust and Sweat," centers on the "familiarity in communal showers among a company of men who have spent enough time together to no longer feel awkward showering together." As a result, the speaker is able to identify the other soldiers by the scars on their bodies, reflecting the intimate companionship these men share with each other. "First Engagement" examines the tension and confusion that emerges in a soldier's first combat, when his training meets actual combat. These are just two of "many of the poems in this compelling collection that [Jenkins] dog-eared for rereading." "As America’s withdrawal from Iraq fades amidst more recent events, it becomes even more important to read books like The Stick Soldiers to give voice and image to just what contemporary war constitutes for soldiers like Martin." Click here to read the full review. The Stick Soldiers is available for purchase at the BOA Bookstore.
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