This year’s symposium, which focused on war poetry, began Friday, March 4 with a reading by Iraq War poet Brian Turner, author of the award-winning “Here, Bullet” (2005). A winner of the Alice James Prize, the book is a first-person account in poetry of the Iraq War. Turner served seven years in the U.S. Army, including one year as an infantry team leader in Iraq. His second book, “Phantom Noise” (2010), deals with the aftermath of the Iraq War.
The keynote address was delivered Saturday, March 5 by James A. Winn, professor of English at Boston University and director of the university’s Humanities Foundation. Winn’s most recent work, “The Poetry of War” (2008), is a study of the war experience as found in poems and, as VMI professor of English Col. David Rachels writes, seeks “to show what poetry has to teach us about war, the motivations behind war, and the experiences of men in battle.”
Turner and Winn were also featured in a panel discussion on the poetry of war. Other symposium events included concurrent sessions of student papers on poetry and original student poems, read by their authors.
Sweet Briar students Ellie Bryant ’12, Liz Foster ’12 and Lydia Marsh ’12 traveled to VMI to present their poetry. Bryant read “Lions,” “Birthmarked,” “Once,” “Modern Pastoral,” “Bill” and “Revelations,” while Marsh read “Rain Song,” “T.J.J.” and “Relapse.” Lauren Shoff ’11 was also invited to present, but did not attend.
Four dozen students from 13 colleges were invited to give presentations.