Utne Blogs > Literature

War in the MFA Workshop

 by Michael Rowe


Tags: Great Writing, Virginia Quarterly Review, war literature, MFA workshop,

war books

Where is our contemporary war literature? Will vets writing about Iraq and Afghanistan benefit or suffer from the peculiar hiccups and habits of the modern Master of Fine Arts writing workshop? Can the experience of war even be schooled in the same way as, say, a love story? Michael David Lukas ruminates over at Virginia Quarterly Review on the future of war literature in an era of workshopped creative writing.

Source: Virginia Quarterly Review

Congratulations to the Virginia Quarterly Review, which won a 2010 Utne Independent Press Award for international coverage.

Image by Let Ideas Compete, licensed under Creative Commons.

robert densmore
5/25/2010 11:51:36 AM

Give me some time. In fact, I think that's what we all need - a little more time. I tell this to people who ask the very same question about war related literature, especially on extremely topical issues like Afghanistan. Readers are very fickle about genres of writing and I've personally found that pushing boundaries of accepted media conventions related to this war (and Iraq) - does not work. We are comfortable with our preconceptions of what war is - even if it is predominately tragedy, horror, satire, and despair. We know Vietnam (but not Korea). We know the major world wars and can dig deeper if need be to unearth our accepted understandings of earlier conflicts: the Alamo, 1812, the Spanish Civil War. We are not yet ready to listen to what veterans of this war have to say. That's the God's honest truth because I've been writing about it since 2006. I don't believe enough time has passed for current, confused events to resonate. History does tend to prefer broad strokes and even broader themes. I write about tragedy mostly and coming to grips with my life now - and what I saw as a journalist after my time in the service. These are not new, but readers are not prepared to read this yet. I understand this - in much the same way that we have yet to erect our memorials to these wars. They are not finished, particularly within the context of our national psyche. http://www.warpoetry.co.uk/Afghanistan_War_Poetry.html#_A_taste_of_Af