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Poetry Canadian

Slow War

by (author) Benjamin Hertwig

McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
Aug 2017
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2017
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Aug 2017
    List Price

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Benjamin Hertwig’s debut collection of poetry, Slow War, is at once an account of contemporary warfare and a personal journey of loss and the search for healing. It stands in the tradition of Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est” and Kevin Powers’s “Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting.”

A century after the First World War, Hertwig presents both the personal cost of war in poems such as “Somewhere in Flanders/Afghanistan” and “Food Habits of Coyotes, as Determined by Examination of Stomach Contents,” and the potential for healing in unlikely places in “A Poem Is Not Guantánamo Bay.” This collection provides no easy answers – Hertwig looks at the war in Afghanistan with the unflinching gaze of a soldier and the sustained attention of a poet. In his accounting of warfare and its difficult aftermath on the homefront, the personal becomes political.

While these poems inhabit both experimental and traditional forms, the breakdown of language channels a descent into violence and an ascent into a future that no longer feels certain, where history and trauma are forever intertwined. Hertwig reminds us that remembering war is a political act and that writing about war is a way we remember.

About the author

Benjamin Hertwig was born and raised under big prairie skies and has recently returned to the bright, sad city of Edmonton. As a child, he liked sports publicly and books privately, and since graduating from high school has spent time as a soldier, a student, a bike courier, a tree-planter, a ceramicist, an inner-city housing working, and an English instructor. His first book of poetry, Slow War, was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Awards and received the poetry prize at the Alberta Literary Awards. His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail, The Walrus, and The New York Times, and he is the recipient of a National Magazine Award in personal journalism. He has taught writing workshops to inmates, veterans, and students across Canada. Juiceboxers is his first novel.

Benjamin Hertwig's profile page

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