Powder: Writing by Women in the Ranks, from Vietnam to Iraq


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$19.95, 6x9", 168 pages, Perfect Binding
ISBN 978-1-888553-25-3
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Powder brings us poetry and personal essays from 19 women who have served in all branches of the United States military. Contributors to Powder have seen conflicts from Somalia to Vietnam to Desert Shield. Many are book authors and winners of writing awards and fellowships; several hold MFAs from some of the country’s finest programs. The essays and poems here are inspired by an attempted rape by a Navy SEAL; an album of photos of the enemy dead; heat exhaustion in Mosul; a first jump from an airplane; fending off advances from Iraqi men; interrogating suspected terrorists; the contemplation of suicide; and a poignant connection with women and children in Bosnia. Their writing exposes the frontline intersection of women and soldiering, describing from a steely-eyed female perspective the horror, the humor, the cultural clashes and the fear.

Sharon D. Allen

Sharon D. Allen, Kore Press Author

Sharon D. Allen’s (she/her/hers) writing has appeared in The Hamilton News-Journal,The Pulse Journal, The Cincinnati Enquirer and Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan and the Home Front, in the Words of U.S. Troops and their Families.

Allen joined the Ohio National Guard in 2000, at age 22. She was deployed to Iraq in 2004 and left the service in 2008 after working as a petroleum supply specialist, a wheeled vehicle mechanic and a heavy equipment operator. Allen is glad she joined the military and glad she went to Iraq, but doesn’t want to go back. While deployed, she wrote numerous short, nonfiction accounts based on people she met during her tour of duty.

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Cameron Beattie

Cameron Beattie, Kore Press Author

Cameron Beattie (she/her/hers) spent her childhood observing the military life. Her father, a Special Forces officer, was away from the family for long deployments, but she didn’t understand what it was like for him until she lived part of it herself.

As a freshman at Loyola College, Beattie joined the ROTC, receiving a scholarship to cover the remainder of her undergraduate education. The following year, she was selected to attend Airborne School. She graduated in 2009.

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Judith Boyd

Judith K. Boyd, Kore Press Author

Judith K. Boyd (she/her/hers) joined the Army in 1991, at 20 years old. As she watched the news of the UN arms inspectors and listened to U.S. rhetoric, she decided that as soon as she could she would seek a government job that would help shape policy rather than execute it. Boyd left active duty in 2004 and went to work for the Department of Homeland Security.

In her words, “The war I was involved with was very different than the one going on today. We were essentially snuck into the Middle East under the guise of a training exercise but we knew we were there to prepare for war. I went to bed on March 22, 2003 in all this gear and the next morning, woke up to see on CNN that the war had begun. The Iraqi missiles came at us all throughout the day and night for the first week of the war. We trained over and over again how to put on our masks; the muscle memory helped when the brain was fuzzy with sleep and nervousness.”


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Dhana-Marie Branton

Dhana-Marie Branton, Kore Press Author

Dhana-Marie Branton (she/her/hers), author of the play Five Rooms of Furniture, joined the Navy’s Delayed Entry Program when she was a junior in high school, at age 16. Branton left the south side of Chicago for boot camp in 1984, just before the crack epidemic decimated her neighborhood. She reports that many of her friends and schoolmates didn’t survive those years.

Branton served two years in Iwakuni, Japan, then went to Point Loma in San Diego, where she ran the Base Chapel.  She has said that the Navy shaped her style of writing, because it let her “uncoil from the stress that [her] life, family and culture had piled on.”

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Charlotte M. Brock

Charlotte M. Brock, Kore Press Author

Charlotte M. Brock (she/her/hers)’s father is a Foreign Service Officer, so growing up, her family moved from country to country every few years. She has lived in Jamaica, South Korea, the Cape Verde Islands, Algeria, France, Mexico and Benin. One of her father’s uncles, a Marine, died test-piloting the Harrier; another, John Ripley, is a Vietnam War hero. She knew early on that she wanted to be a Marine, although her father was dead-set against it. She was too smart to be a Marine, he said: it was a waste of brains and talent.

Brock was commissioned as a Marine Corps officer at age 22. She was a Communications Officer, responsible for ensuring that communications were set up and maintained on the camp. While at Camp Taquaddum, Brock met the Officer in Charge of the mortuary and volunteered to help him in his duties in her time off. Now 28, Brock has recently left active duty but plans to stay in the Reserves. She does not regret joining the Marine Corps, reporting that it gave her “self-knowledge, incredible experiences, trials and tests and periods where endurance was the only way to make it through.”

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Christy Clothier

Christy L. Clothier, Kore Press Author

Christy L. Clothier (she/her/hers) enlisted in the Navy in 1997, when she was 20 years old, to improve her life: steady pay, healthcare, money for college. She was stationed at Naval Air Stations on San Clemente Island and Whidbey Island. While in the military she met the man she has since married, which she cites as one of her many positive experiences during those years. Ultimately, Clothier left the Navy because she did not feel safe from the people she worked with and did not support the Iraq war.  She now uses writing as a means of “rediscovering [her] voice, healing [her] wounds, and finding true freedom.” She draws from her experiences in the Navy for her work and has been published in Inquiry.

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Donna Dean

Donna Dean, Kore Press Author

Donna Dean (she/her/hers) served in the Navy from 1963 to 1981, seeking a more interesting life when the jobs open to her as a woman were “killingly boring.” After many years of treatment and persistent advocacy with the Veteran’s Administration, she is now adjudicated at one hundred percent permanent and total disability for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Dean now writes about her experiences in the ranks and living with PTSD, raising awareness about the illness, the degradation of women in the military, and the Bush administration’s inadequate treatment of vets. In addition to her work in Powder, she is the author of Warriors Without Weapons: Military Women and PTSD, due out in its second edition in 2009.

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Deborah Fries

Deborah Fries, Kore Press Author

Deborah Fries was the Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania from 2006 – 2007. Her poems have appeared in North American Review, Cimarron Review, Terrain, and other journals, including the premiere issue ofCream City Review. A recipient of a grant from the Leeway Foundation, she lives in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. She received an MA in English from the University of Wisconsin.

Her first book, Various Modes of Departure, was selected by Carolyn Forché as a Kore Press First Book Winner. In the anthology Powder: Writing by Women in the Ranks, from Vietnam to Iraq, Fries writes about her time in the US Air Force, which she joined in 1968. After one year, she left with her sergeant, a Vietnam vet, whom she married. She says that marriage and pregnancy seemed preferable to working in a field hospital in Southeast Asia.

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Victoria A. Hudson

Victoria A. Hudson earned her MFA in 200X from St. Mary’s College. Her poetry, essays and short stories have appeared inWhat Was it Like in Desert Storm, Milvia Street, Army Times, More Bridges, Ballyhoo Stories and Back Room LiveHudson joined the Army ROTC in 1979, at 20 years old. With five mobilizations over thirty years of service, she remains in the Reserves.

Titles Available from Kore Press:

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Terry Hurley

Terry Hurley joined the Army in 1981, following her high school graduation. She has served in North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, Virginia, Georgia, Arizona, Kansas and at the Pentagon. Overseas, she has served tours in Germany and Korea, and deployed twice in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, where she served in Saudia Arabia and Kuwait, as well as Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. She has worked primarily in communications, but also in Personnel and as an Equal Opportunity Officer.

Hurley left the service at age 40, on medical retirement, and on her time in service, she says, “My military experiences have made me the woman I am today. As I write about these experiences, my life becomes clearer. I have changed. I am more focused. I see the world through opened eyes.” Powder is the second venue in which Hurley has published her writing, after a piece about her “Military Family” inChicken Soup for Military Wives.

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Bobbi Dykema Katsanis

Bobbi Dykema Katsanis, Kore Press Author

Bobbi Dykema Katsanis‘ poetry has been published in numerous journals, literary magazines and anthologies, including Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry,The Chaffin Journal, The Litchfield Review, The Binnacle, and Ruah. Her chapbook,The Magdalene’s Notebook, was released in September 2006 from Finishing Line Press.

Katsanis joined the 188th Army National Guard Band in 1988, when she was 17 years old and was discharged in 1996. Katsanis says she experienced benefits in the military she would not have wanted to do without, but the culture of the military, she says, is “anti-intellectual, sexist, and subliminally violent, and I have had to work hard to leave that all behind.” She describes the images in her contribution to Powder as traveling past the “bus window” of her imagination.

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Anna Osinska Krawczuk

Anna Osinska Krawczuk, Kore Press Author

Anna Osinska Krawczuk was born in Warsaw, Poland, to Ukrainian parents. In order to be accepted for immigration to the United States, her mother worked as a live-in cook while her daughters lived in an orphanage. Krawczuk joined the Women’s Army Corps in 1955 in Newark, New Jersey, at 18 years old, just after becoming an American citizen. She worked in a clerical capacity; part of her job was to run the film projector for officer briefings, some of which detailed the aftermath of liberated concentration camps. She was honorably discharged at age 21 and now draws from her time in the army for her poetry. In addition to Powder, Krawczuk’s writing has appeared in such publications as the Ukrainian Weekly.

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Elizabeth Keough McDonald

Elizabeth Keough McDonald, Kore Press Author

Elizabeth Keough McDonald. In her words: “The military is not something I want to talk about—only write about in my poems. I am not the wonderful person I was before being in the military and even as I write this I am filled with sadness.”

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Heather Paxton

Heather Paxton (center), Kore Press Author

Heather Paxton was an Army Reserve Specialist in the 418th Civil Affairs Battalion stationed in Tikrit, Iraq from 2003-2004. Upon her return she graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a B.A. in English Literature. She and her husband live in Columbia, Missouri.

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Khadijah Queen

Khadijah Queen, Kore Press Author

Khadijah Queen‘s work has appeared in numerous journals, including Poemmemoirstory and New Ohio Review, and has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Khadijah’s first poetry collection, Conduit (NY: Black Goat/Akashic Books), was published in 2008. A video/sound/performance artist, Cave Canem Fellow, and founding member of Red Thread Collective, she holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. She is currently a graduate fellow in studio art at the University of South Florida.

Queen joined the Navy in 1998, at the age of 22. She served as a sonar technician at sea and as an awards assistant on shore, processing personnel awards for the Atlantic Fleet. Queen left the Navy because she knew that she was “an artist at heart, and the option to be that fully was not possible with continued service.” She says she would not join now but doesn’t regret her service.

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K.G. Schneider

K.G. Schneider, Kore Press Author

2003 saw the birth of Free Range Librarian: K.G. Schneider’s blog on librarianship, writing, and everything else, which remains a popular site among literary blog readers. In addition to her work in Powder, Schneider has been published in Gastronomica, White Crane, Nerve, Linux.com, IT Managers Journal, American Libraries, Library Journal, The Bottom Line, and Wilson Library Bulletin, among others. She works as Community Librarian at Equinox, the support and development company for Evergreen open-source library software, for which she also writes a blog.

Karen Schneider joined the Air Force at in 1983, began service as a jet engine mechanic, and two years later she was commissioned as an officer. She spent her career on tactical fighter aircraft. Schneider was not called into action for the first Gulf War; she volunteered to go. She would not join up to serve in this war, but she says she would go if she were still on active duty: she believes that service is often about obligation to your peers, not to the military.

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Elaine Little Tuman

Elaine Little Tuman, Kore Press Author

Elaine Little Tuman has written for military and civilian publications, including the literary magazine Kestral. Tuman is also an accomplished photographer and, during her time in service, photographed many Afghan people and military members.

Tuman joined the Army in 1982, at 23 years old, as a morse code interceptor, and also trained as a Russian linguist. She is scheduled to retire soon, at age 49. Regarding her time in service, she has said, “My experiences have made me more determined to write and to create. I have more of an awareness that life is precious and short. I am more tenacious, and less embarrassed to be forthright with people.”

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Rachel Vigil

Rachel Vigil performed MFA studies in Creative Writing and Poetics at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. Her work has been published in War, Literature, & the Arts; The Common Review; Poem; Blue Line; The Inkwell; Combat; Copper Nickel and many others. She received the Amy Gruneberger Memorial Poetry Award in 2005 and was a finalist in the Cleveland State University First Book Contest in 2006.

Vigil joined the Army at age 25, in 1998, signing under the condition that she could learn Arabic. She served in Operation Bright Star in Egypt immediately after September 11, 2001. She worked as an Arabic linguist and voice interceptor for the Army Intelligence Corps. Vigil planned to leave the military in 2002 at the end of her four years, but Arabic linguists were stop-lossed after September 11, 2001 and her service was extended another two years. She reports that having security clearance changed her perspective on many things. She was a “card-carrying young Republican” when she entered the service, and an active Democrat when she left.

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Additional information

Weight 0.63125 lbs
Dimensions 6 × 9 in