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Writing through War: Workshops for Veterans, Their Families, and Friends
March 2, 2016 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pmFREE
The impacts of war ripple through our society; few are left untouched. For those who have served in wars, the experience is often difficult or impossible to talk about, unspeakable. Friends and family also have a hard time, wanting to understand or express concern.
As prelude to our 50th anniversary performances of Benjamin Britten’s masterful War Requiem, BCCO is partnering with local poets and writers and University Press Books to offer a series of workshops that draw on the power of poetry and stories to bridge gaps in understanding and to open up discussion, on themes ranging from serving in the military and in combat, to coming home from war, to loving someone at war, to being a child of the next generation after war.
This second workshop will be facilitated by poet and essayist Julie Thi Underhill, and features a reading by poet Martin Lesinski. Julie will offer suggestions for sustaining a writing practice, as well as guided prompts. This free workshop is open to all skill levels—you need not consider yourself a “writer” to participate. Participants will then have the opportunity to write together about and reflect on their own experiences, and upon the repercussions of war in our society and in our lives. There will be time to, if you choose, to share with others in that evening’s workshop.
All are welcome—soldiers, veterans, refugees, families, friends, and others whose lives have been touched by war—to come and write — or just listen and support your friend or family member. Our goal is to provide a safe space to explore our experiences of war through poetry, memoir, or stories. You are welcome to come to one or more workshops.
The inspiration for these workshops comes from poetry of Wilfred Owen, one of the best known of the “trench” poets of WW1, who served in combat and who wrote vividly of their war experiences. In the War Requiem, Britten interspersed the text of the Requiem Latin Mass for the Dead with nine powerful poems by Wilfred Owen, who was killed in battle just a week before the armistice.
Martin Lesinski is a photographer, writer and combat disabled Vietnam veteran. He began using writing in combination with self-portraits and government documents to explore his identity as a disabled veteran in the ‘70s. At that time, his work was shown in galleries, published in Dumb Ox, an art journal, and part of a nationally touring show, Disability and the Arts. Several years ago he returned to writing about his experiences as a combat veteran and disabled person. Currently he is a member of the Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace writing group and has begun public reading in differing venues. His writings are first-hand reports of shaping a life of healing. They articulate the experiences of veterans and offer families and non-veterans insights into not the blood and guts of war, but the difficulties veterans encounter navigating a world shaped by PTSD.
Julie Thi Underhill is an interdisciplinary writer, artist, teacher, and scholar whose inheritances from war have deeply shaped her life. Born in Missouri in 1976 to a Cham-French refugee mother from Viet Nam and an American father who served in Viet Nam, Underhill has published in Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace, Troubling Borders, Embodying Asian/American Sexualities, Takin’ It to the Streets: A Sixties Reader, ColorLines, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and TrenchArt Monographs. Underhill currently teaches literature and composition at California College of the Arts while completing her doctorate in Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley.
Nancy Sue Brink is a poet, writer and media-maker, and a soprano in the Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra, where she is leading a community storytelling project for the chorus’s 50th anniversary. Her writing has appeared in Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace, the Pacific Raptor Report, and upcoming in Calyx Journal. Her film work touches on issues in science, art, the environment, and social justice. She has created media for museum exhibits and nonprofits and is currently working on a mixed-media piece that explores the history of military dog tags as a way of looking at how military service shapes individual identities, and in turn, the identity of our nation.