Christopher Owens Edwin Starr once asked “War. What is it good for”?
 

Famously concluding that it was good for absolutely nothing, he seemingly failed to note the irony in finding inspiration from anti-war sentiments. So, war is actually good for something!

Likewise, if it hadn’t have been for Iraq War, we wouldn’t have this little gem of a book.

Describing himself as someone who ...

writes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and reviews…finalist for the Killer Nashville Claymore Award, nominated for the Pushcart Prize for poetry…won Mystery Tribune's inaugural micro-fiction contest…and… is a former U.S. Army Infantry Officer. He attained the rank of Captain before being honorably discharged. He saw combat in Iraq and earned numerous awards, including a Bronze Star.

... J.B Stevens is clearly something of a renaissance man. So, writing a book of poetry around his time in the US Army is an intriguing proposition.

From the off, we are treated to some gallows humour in the form of Outgoing Tracers, where the narrator prays to God that, if his time comes, he should take the left hand and foot as he wants a kid. Then, as a follow on, we get Two Feet, where we get some details on a fellow soldier who did lose his left foot, but now has a Dodge Viper. Concluding with the line Maybe I was jealous leaves a certain impression on the reader regarding the narrator.

This is furthered in the likes of LB, which really hits the reader due to the bluntness of the narrator:

LB killed himself with his SAW, somewhere near Baghdad/I cannot remember what LB stood for/Something from his last name…Google brings up nothing/And we’ve all forgotten/And I’m not sure he was even there.

Not only a poignant reminder of how war removes individuality from the participants, but also serves as an indication that the narrator may not be all that he’s cracked up to be.

Especially considering Xannie, where he seems to embrace the TV David Cronenberg style and starts to reminisce about his time as a cop and how his wife left him. The narrative is deliberately disjoined, hinting at a man channel hopping while envisaging Baghdad in front of him. One almost gets the feeling that the narrator could end up becoming a mass shooter, if pushed into some unsavoury directions, which bring an air of tension which only increases as the book continues.

Short (only 26 pages), succinct and sharp, this is a poetry collection that conveys the mundane horror of war and its impact on those who fight those wars. Its overall mood is one of post traumatic stress, with hints of despair cutting through some of the more supposedly euphoric and knowing moments.

Sorry Edwin, war is good for something.

JB Stevens, 2021, All the Violent Memories, Close to the Bone. ISBN-13: 979-8700250030

 ⏩ Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist. 

All The Violent Memories

Christopher Owens Edwin Starr once asked “War. What is it good for”?
 

Famously concluding that it was good for absolutely nothing, he seemingly failed to note the irony in finding inspiration from anti-war sentiments. So, war is actually good for something!

Likewise, if it hadn’t have been for Iraq War, we wouldn’t have this little gem of a book.

Describing himself as someone who ...

writes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and reviews…finalist for the Killer Nashville Claymore Award, nominated for the Pushcart Prize for poetry…won Mystery Tribune's inaugural micro-fiction contest…and… is a former U.S. Army Infantry Officer. He attained the rank of Captain before being honorably discharged. He saw combat in Iraq and earned numerous awards, including a Bronze Star.

... J.B Stevens is clearly something of a renaissance man. So, writing a book of poetry around his time in the US Army is an intriguing proposition.

From the off, we are treated to some gallows humour in the form of Outgoing Tracers, where the narrator prays to God that, if his time comes, he should take the left hand and foot as he wants a kid. Then, as a follow on, we get Two Feet, where we get some details on a fellow soldier who did lose his left foot, but now has a Dodge Viper. Concluding with the line Maybe I was jealous leaves a certain impression on the reader regarding the narrator.

This is furthered in the likes of LB, which really hits the reader due to the bluntness of the narrator:

LB killed himself with his SAW, somewhere near Baghdad/I cannot remember what LB stood for/Something from his last name…Google brings up nothing/And we’ve all forgotten/And I’m not sure he was even there.

Not only a poignant reminder of how war removes individuality from the participants, but also serves as an indication that the narrator may not be all that he’s cracked up to be.

Especially considering Xannie, where he seems to embrace the TV David Cronenberg style and starts to reminisce about his time as a cop and how his wife left him. The narrative is deliberately disjoined, hinting at a man channel hopping while envisaging Baghdad in front of him. One almost gets the feeling that the narrator could end up becoming a mass shooter, if pushed into some unsavoury directions, which bring an air of tension which only increases as the book continues.

Short (only 26 pages), succinct and sharp, this is a poetry collection that conveys the mundane horror of war and its impact on those who fight those wars. Its overall mood is one of post traumatic stress, with hints of despair cutting through some of the more supposedly euphoric and knowing moments.

Sorry Edwin, war is good for something.

JB Stevens, 2021, All the Violent Memories, Close to the Bone. ISBN-13: 979-8700250030

 ⏩ Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist. 

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