CWW Alumni News: Aaron Graham’s Poetry featured in Sequestrum Magazine

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is delighted to announce that two recent poems, “Mythos (Deployment)” and “Footfalls” by Aaron Graham, an alum of our Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat, has been featured in Sequestrum Magazine.  On the poems, Graham writes:

The first thing that actually was able to speak to me, that I was able to relate to after I got out of the Marine Corps was Eliot’s The Waste Land. There was something about the work that spoke to me, that knew me, and that I just inherently understood. “Footfalls” is sort of an attempt to repay the favor in as much as its an attempt to convey some of my experiences with “Burials for the dead” and “Unreal Cities” using a tone and diction that flowed from the intensity of The Waste Land.  Or at least in my mind it did.

I suppose, thematically speaking, “Mythos” is almost a counterpoint to “Footfalls.” It’s really dealing with the notion of this incredible weight of history in the Middle East—really in the land itself in the grains of sand and the Tigress’ silt—possesses. To think the road the unit was patrolling was walked by the Prophet of Islam or that a few miles from the spot I was standing on the Apostle Paul was struck by God on the way to Damascus was—and even still is—jarring. These are still parts of the history/mythology of global society, if not shared then at least something we’re collectively aware of. Yet, being in these places in 2006-08 and viewing the hustle and bustle around me there were times I could not have felt farther away from anything mythological. In fact, I think the thrust of the poem is the encroachment of the quotidian into any grander ideas we have of the world.

In “Mythos (Deployment),” Graham writes:

The epicenter
might be
a minaret
woman’s veil, voices
selling dates,
road-ways tamped
packed with feet
where waiting,
still the magnitude hits.
A thousand years stretch
down this street
this town, the same
ground waked by Paul
blinded he saw
God spoke place.
Words here make
sense only if kept
aside myths
in your head.
Camel rides, bouncing
in a pickup truck bed
as it passes.

To read the Sequestrum interview with Aaron Graham, please visit their site here.  Graham’s poems, “Mythos (Deployment” and “Footfalls” can be found here.

Aaron Graham hails from Glenrock, Wyoming, population 1159, which boasts seven bars, six churches, a single 4-way stop sign and no stoplights. His poetry represents a unique contribution to the arts and stands apart from the work of Brian Turner, Phil Klay, and other war poets in that it represents the experience of an enlisted United States Marine across three deployments and treats the subject matter of that experience on the front lines as a human intelligence operative, Arabic translator, and counterintelligence expert from within that frame, Aaron was recently the ‘Cecilia Baker Memorial Visiting Scholar’ for the 2016 Seaside Writer’s Conference. His chapbook ‘Skyping from a Combat Zone’ was Shortlisted for Tupelo Press’s 2016 Sunken Garden Prize. His first full length collection, “Blood Stripes”, was a finalist for Tupelo’s 2015 Berkshire Poetry Prize, his poem, ‘Olfaction’, won the Seven Hills Literary Journal’s Penumbra Poetry Prize, and ‘PTSD Poem #12’ has been nominated as ‘The Best of the Net’. Aaron founded and currently runs a weekly poetry workshop on writing the military experience for Veterans and their families at the Atlanta VAMC and continues to develop his poetry as a way of connecting with other veterans while finishing his PhD in Literature at Emory University.

CWW Alumni Aaron Graham Selected for the 30/30 Project to Support Tupelo Press

Aaron Graham, an alumni of the 2017 Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Spring in New Orleans Writing Retreat has been chosen for the 30/30 Project to benefit Tupelo Press, a literary non-profit organization. Aaron will join eight other volunteers in writing a poem a day during the month of April while raising donations to support the literary press. Other poets for the project include Alexandra Barylski, Rebecca Raphael, Pamela Murray Winters, and more. You can donate to support your favorite authors here.  To help Aaron reach his $350 goal, donate here.

Aaron Graham is a doctoral candidate at Emory University and is also the poetry editor of Muse /A Literary Journal, and Assistant Poetry Editor for The Tishman Review. He was the 2016 Cecilia Baker Memorial Visiting Fellow for Seaside Writers and a veteran who served both in Afghanistan and Iraq. His work has appeared in SAND, Rising Phoenix, The Taos International Journal of Poetry and Art, The East Bay Review, Zero-Dark-Thirty , Grist, Alternating Current, and more. His work has won numerous awards, including Seven Hills Press’s Penumbra Poetry Prize, Tishman Review‘s 2015 Poetry Contest, and Tethered by Letters’ 2017 Luminaire Award.  His 2017 chapbook, The Hurry Up and the Wait, was shortlisted for Tupelo Press’s Sunken Garden Chapbook Poetry Prize as was his Skyping from a Combat Zone, in 2016. His first full length collection, Blood Stripes, was shortlisted for the 2015 Berkshire Prize, and his “PTSD Poem #12” has been nominated for 2016’s Best of the Net.

Tupelo Press is a literary press that hosts writing conferences, readings, and a teen writer center and publishes essays, poetry, and prose from new and established writers.  You can find out more about the 30/30 Project and read some of Aaron’s daily work here.  A sample of Aaron’s poetry follows below:

Populist Agrarian Mar a Logo Blues

Bernie’s in the basement preaching cost controls on medicine
I’m spiting on the pavement trying to undermine the government.
Fat man in a little coat named Priebus got me laid off.
Paul Ryan say he’s got a plan to pay the nation’s debt off.

Look out Flynn, they gonna learn your sin.
Got a presidential win, now the real work begins.
Sell your souls on Election Day Putin already got away.
Daniel Boon’s in dark a room with a wire tap and Mike Flynn,
saying the cure to all our ills are tariffs and immigration bans.

Better get Dick, get Bill get someone to write a healthcare a bill
Train of thought jumped a rail en route to replace and repeal.
The POTUS tweets because his ego’s frail so public will is gonna fail.
Try hard, leave scared, Sessions will be disbarred
Send out the national guard for the protest on your front yard
down at Mar a Log Steve Bannon’s your Iago

Don’t wanna look dumb
you better hire some
better writers to try
to cover up your scandals
collusion with white vandals
your race relations plan is
Steve Harvey on every channel.

–Aaron Graham