Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and seventy-eighth, is of poet, non-fiction and short story author Marguerite Bouvard.
Marguerite Guzman Bouvard is the author of 6 books and 2 chapbooks of poetry. Her first book of poems won the Quarterly Review of Literature Prize and her latest book, “The Unpredictability of Light,” won the MassBook Award for Poetry. She is also the author of 12 non-fiction books in the fields of politics, women and human rights, illness, and grief. Her latest book is “The Invisible Wounds of War; Coming Home from Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Poetry has become part of a number of her non-fiction books, including her latest, the book on Grief and the book on the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. There is a poem in front of each chapter because poems are another way of knowing. These fields blend into each other easily because her poetry is concerned with justice and human rights and events across the world. Marguerite tries to get people moving out of their own lives and concerns into those of other people in other countries and in her own.
Marguerite is a former professor of International Relations and Political Theory and has also taught poetry workshops in the department where she taught. She is now a Resident Scholar in the Women’ Studies Research Center (where research, art and activism coverage) Brandeis University.
And now from the author herself:
My latest book The Invisible Wounds of War; Coming Home From Iraq and Afghanistan began in an unusual way. I had a short story in a literary magazine that happened to include a few poems by a soldier who committed suicide. I was stunned and told the editor I wanted to get in touch with his mother. He was reluctant, talked about privacy, but after a month I wore him down. I called her and started a frequent conversation. I called to comfort her, but also learned a lot about the in sufficient healthcare our veterans receive and the problems of a volunteer army. The biggest one is that the media and the country as a whole gives our soldiers very little attention and there is a chasm between the military and civilian world.
Then I wrote an article about her. Before I knew it I was interviewing veterans, including veterans groups such as Veterans for Common Sense. But I knew that the whole family is sacrificing their lives while a family member is in combat, so I included a chapter on mothers and fathers of our soldiers, as well as one on their wives and children, and also an important one on both the good and insufficient healthcare our veterans receive.
I also did a lot of research on both wars and included a chapter on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the fact that there is and was no front line, the groups involved, the weapons such as improvised explosive devices that are hidden under a road or in a bush and set off from a distance or EFPs explosively formed projectiles that send molten copper into umvees and kill our soldiers in awful ways.
I wanted readers to know what our soldiers are experiencing and how many of them return with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Combat Stress. They come home feeling as alien as they did in Iraq and Afghanistan, the longest war we have fought. They endured frequent deployments and their families’ lives are disrupted. They are still at war when they return with the sights and sounds of rocket propelled grenades. It will take a long time for them to reenter society and feel social trust. Their wounds are truly invisible; the grief of seeing their buddies killed, because companies and battalions are like a family. There is also the grief of seeing a child killed or a family.
Especially I wanted our country to honor them for their sacrifices and not just on Veterans Day. Leon Panetta, the head of the Defense Department in the United States, stated that “Suicide is an Epidemic.” In fact there are more suicides than combat deaths. This is something to ponder and inspires us to learn about their travails and listen to them talk about their experiences.
This book has given our soldiers a voice for their interviews are included throughout the book.
Thank you, Marguerite.
You can find more about Marguerite via… http://www.brandeis.edu/centers/wsrc/scholars/profiles/Bouvard.html
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