Wednesday, October 23, 2013
URSP Student Brandon Moore-McNew and A Green Satchel
Have you ever had a lot of different things suddenly come together at once? That’s how I got interested in this project! I was working with military folklore and war poetry both to spark essays for classes and to better understand my own experiences as a soldier. I learned there’s still a lot of work to be done in providing people with a more comprehensive view of military life. As someone who carries a lot of labels, including “poet” and “veteran,” I felt obligated (and excited!) to contribute to that work.
Ultimately, I want to put my art in the service of others. My goal is to teach creative writing to help people engage difficult experiences and gain creative control over such events. In the meantime, for this project, I’m just immersing myself in my field and seeing how my own work relates to what’s already out there. My faculty advisor and I communicate frequently through a wiki, which we also use to share resources. We meet in person regularly, too. Mostly, though, I’m reading poetry and books about poetry, analyzing them, writing imitations, and honing my own ability to articulate what I need to articulate in the thesis.
Sometimes, that research turns up really surprising stuff. This week, I learned that medieval romances and their adaptations shaped the literature surrounding World War I in ways I’d never expected. For instance, in British writing, you can find poems, plays, and prose accounts all revolving around the scene of soldiers bathing. Different writers at different points in the war used this theme in various ways: to show the innocence of youth, to contrast freedom and discipline, to emphasize the fondness of officers for their men and vice versa, to show the vulnerability of naked flesh to shrapnel, are all examples.