READ: Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting (Kevin Powers)

TItle: Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting
Author: Kevin Powers
Publisher: Sceptre

Following on from his debut novel The Yellow Birds, Kevin Powers has produced a collection of poetry. Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting has been shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize for Poetry, likely on the strength of the title poem and other poems in ‘Part One’.  Letter is divided into four parts--the first two a mixture of war/remembrance poetry; the final two more (Virginian) nature/landscape focused. The second half of the collection is competent, but lacks the bitter spark of the first half, which contains lines such as these:

My mother told me / about a dream she had / before sleeping stopped. I died / and woke her at her bedside / to tell her I was dead / . . . . / I like to think she caught / some other mother’s dream / because she could take / how hard the waiting was
— ‘Blue Star Mother'
I tell her how Private Bartle says, offhand, / that war is just us / making little pieces of metal / pass through each other
— ‘Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting'
in fact I / have tried to become earth / many times, to be lower than earth, and I / have known many boys / who practiced it so much / that they stayed below the surface
— ‘Independence Day'