|“Lunchtime Poets, Newark, NJ” by Walt Nygard:
cover art for Sound Off: Warrior Writers NJ
A book party and reading from a new anthology of poetry and prose on war and peace, Sound Off: Warrior Writers NJ, is scheduled for Nov. 16 at 7 pm at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, 14 Maple Ave., Morristown, NJ.
The 80-page collection of writing by military veterans and family members explores the haunting turmoil of surviving battle zones, loss of friends and sometimes faith, and enduring anguish on the home front. It celebrates the stirring sparks of life energy in addressing such experiences through creative writing. Contributors include veterans of World War II, Vietnam, Gulf War I, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan, including women combat veterans, and women who experienced hidden sides of military service as wives, daughters, mothers, girlfriends.
Edited by Jan Barry and Regina Mullen and published by Post Traumatic Press, Sound Off is a commemoration of Warrior Writers’ 10th anniversary. The group, headed by Director Lovella Calica, was formed in 2007 in Philadelphia, PA. Its workshops and public performances have welcomed and engaged veterans of all ages in cities and towns across the U.S. Warrior Writers NJ provides writing workshops at New Jersey community colleges, universities, art galleries, VA and military facilities and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in Morristown.
Warrior Writers’ participation in the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in 2014 and 2016 introduced the program to wider audiences. Warrior Writers NJ participants have also given performances at the Lunchtime Poems Series in Military Park in Newark, New York City Poetry Festival on Governors Island, Columbia University, Cooper Union, Brennan Courthouse Gallery in Jersey City, Puffin Cultural Forum in Teaneck, and numerous other locales.
“Warrior Writers saved my life,” says Sarah N. Mess, a Branchburg, NJ resident who served with a U.S. Army field hospital in the war in Somalia in 1993. “The closest I have come to coming home has been in this community,” Sarah said in The Fog of War: Combat Paper and Warrior Writers, a video produced by State of the Arts NJ. Combat Paper is a creative arts process developed by veterans that transforms military uniforms into handmade paper to display art on war and peace themes.
“A lot of the Combat Paper workshops include a writing element based on Warrior Writers’ free writing style. It really is an immediate way to get thoughts and feelings and expression out from your head,” David Keefe, founding director of Combat Paper NJ, said in The Fog of War video. Dave, a Marine vet who served in Iraq, is director of Frontline Arts, which manages the Printmaking Center of New Jersey in Branchburg and staffs a traveling art and writing workshop team that visits VA and military facilities including the Lyons VA Hospital in New Jersey, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland and Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
Contributors to the anthology include Jan Barry, Kevin Basl, Camillo Mac Bica, Lovella Calica, Omar Columbus, Everett Cox, W. D. Ehrhart, David Keefe, Alison Koffler, Ben Levine, Nathan Lewis, Gerald McCarthy, Sarah N. Mess, Regina Mullen, Jim Murphy, Joe Nygard, Nancy Nygard, Walt Nygard, Jenny Pacanowski, Paula Rogovin, Robert Sliclen, Jon Turner, Frank Wagner, Jay Wenk, Dayl Wise, Eli Wright, James Yee, and Walter Zimmerman.
Sound Off co-editor Jan Barry is a writer and poet whose books include Life after War & Other Poems and (co-editor) Winning Hearts & Minds: War Poems by Vietnam Veterans. A U.S. Army veteran of Vietnam, he’s the Warrior Writers NJ coordinator. Co-editor Regina Mullen is a writer, arts marketer, poet, and Warrior Writers workshop facilitator. She’s also conducted writing workshops at the Mental Health Association of Orange County, NY. Most recently, her work was featured on The Other Stories podcast. Her father served in the U.S. Navy in World War II and a partner served in Vietnam.