This week is the Veterans Writing Project Retreat sponsored by the George Washington University’s Writing Program. I’m thrilled to be here joining about 30 veterans working across film, play writing, fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Our instructors and mentors are established in their genres, working to help us refine our skill and voice as we create and tell our stories.
We met last night for a small orientation to the week’s program, dinner and then settled back into the dorms. (Yes, dorms…something some of us haven’t been in for quite some time.) Today we had our first work sessions. In poetry, which is the genre I’m here for and will mostly report on for this blog, we have Joseph Bathanti, North Carolina’s Poet Laureate, leading our workshop. The morning discussion touched into forms briefly and qualities of what makes a poem both a poem and a good poem. This afternoon we are responding to a prompt dredging up memory from learning to drive. Tomorrow morning we’ll workshop the result from the prompt.
I’m enjoying the time meeting other veterans who are writing and creating. I’m finding a great deal of emotion percolating just below the surface and I’m not sure what that is about. Maybe it’s that feeling of being part of a group that has an inherent assumption of inclusion. We’re all vets, we all create, we all belong. Maybe it’s like pheromones and we’re sending some invisible message to each other of acceptance, having come through the fire to the other side, and being at home with each other. Maybe it’s just being around so many other vets is just tearing the scar tissue left from a life and identity now behind me.