16 Apr

The Council of Writers (COW) hosted their annual spring reading in Colson Hall on Thursday, April 7, featuring poet and essayist Hugh Martin.


Hugh Martin, author of The Stick Soldiers

Originally from northeast Ohio, Martin spent six years in the Army National Guard and eleven months in Iraq. His chapbook, So, How Was The War? (Kent State University Press, 2010) was published by the Wick Poetry Center and his full-length collection, The Stick Soldiers, which won the 2011 A. Poulin Jr. Poetry Prize, was published through BOA Editions, Ltd, in 2013. He is the recipient of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship and the winner of the Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award from The Iowa Review. His poems have appeared in journals such as the New Yorker, Kenyon Review, American Poetry Review, Crazyhorse, and New Republic. Martin graduated from Muskingum University and has an MFA from Arizona State. Currently he is the Emerging Writer Lecturer at Gettysburg College.

Martin started the reading with an essay about veteran stereotypes and identity called “Three Great Lyric Passages.” This short essay focuses on two brief episodes in his life a couple years after returning to Iraq and reflects on his behavior and the impulses behind it. Following that, he read poems from The Stick Soldiers, which stays with more personal material, and then from new poems, in which he moves beyond his own experience into different speakers and the experiences of others. Throughout his reading, Martin offered stories and details about the material, including references to the philosopher Dixon Wecter and William Carlos Williams’s poem “This Is Just to Say.”

The reading closed with a time for questions. When asked if there have been any novels or films that have come out about the Iraq war that resonated with him, Martin recommended the documentaries “Iraq in Fragments” and “Baghdad ER.”

This reading, along with many others, is available from the Center for Literary Computing’s Creative Readings podcast.

And you can read Martin’s ”.50-Cal Gunner” and hear it read by the author on the New Yorker website.

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