Bearing witness to the depths of eloquence and grief, anger and endurance, this upcoming release from Baron Wormser blends poetry, history, and dark wit. Coming November 10, 2017!
Baron Wormser is the author of nine books of poetry and a poetry chapbook. He is the co-author of two books about teaching poetry and the author of a memoir along with a book of short stories and a novel. He teaches in the Fairfield University MFA program. He also is the Founding Director of Frost Place Converence on Poetry and Teaching in Franconia, New Hampshire. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He served as poet laureate of Maine from 2000 and 2005 and received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of Maine at Augusta in 2005. You can visit his website at baronwormser.com.
COVER DESIGNER BIO
Kendal Christenson is an undergrad at Minnesota State University Moorhead studying Graphic Design, Graphic Communications, and Art. She enjoys her puppy, spending time on the lake, and sandwiches of the toasted variety. When she is not working or studying, Kendal can be found telling jokes that are not funny and conjuring up sassy designs.
PRAISE for Tom o’Vietnam
“Baron Wormser has done something important with Tom o’Vietnam in the way that he has identified and precisely embraced a stunningly particular historical moment we casually refer to as ‘Viet Nam,’ as if the name was not a country but a dark shroud of moral collapse that hangs over us still. More remarkably, he has constructed this narrative from the point of view of a combat soldier, fighting in the American War in Viet Nam. Somehow there is a deep legitimacy to this soldier’s story because Wormser has been excruciatingly precise in his consideration and use of details—what Hemingway called ‘getting the words right.’ Built into Tom o’Vietnam‘s narrative is a clever, bright and engaging analysis of King Lear that parallels the primary narrative in richly imaginative ways. Inventive, immodestly challenging more than a few literary fictive conventions, and sometimes even beautifully written, Tom o’Vietnam is, at the same time, in a class by itself and resonant of great works about Viet Nam that have come before.”
—Bruce Weigl, author of Song of Napalm: Poems and The Circle of Hanh: A Memoir
Endless swearing, a hoarse, braying wind of words, a weary, scornful, bemused reply to a war, swearing at those who were there and those who were not, at the army and the enemy, at death and life: everything blasted, withered, and coated by the tongue of injury. The question behind each insult and mockery being: What in the vast scheme of motley doings conspired to put me here? How did speeches spoken by gasbags of every stripe over decades come to endanger my modest network of blood? And if I wanted to be here, in my arrogance, manhood, confusion, enthusiasm, stupidity, patriotism, I must swear all the more. Who could have known?
Swearing about food, rain, heat, women, officers, and, most of all, each other, each of us in the same unpredictable predicament. Swears coupled with other swears, vicious adjectives meeting nasty
nouns: motherfucking shithead, goddamn asshole. Semi-swears, the ritual male abusing of male anatomy: you worthless little prick, the voice measured—a judgment—or light-hearted, oh, by the way. Long strings of swears blurring into one run-on, guttural frenzy. Or sometimes a simple “look, bitch,” which starts a few shoves, shoulder pushes, and glares, the saying that you are a woman—a low blow. Swears for what seems like no reason, your voice mysteriously alive, proclaiming you are here in this faraway hell where, even on a good, un-murderous day, you are pissed. A reason can be found, if you want to go looking, but a lot of grim bile is in us already. Though not always bilious, everyone was once an infant gurgling, burping, unaffected by the droppings of time, though I think of guys like Briggs or Stone, who probably by the age of two were waiting to get bigger so they could get to Vietnam and start shooting people. Someone kicked them down the stairs early, the war on the home front. Or without the proclamation of reason or motive, like the tattoos: born to be bad, born to lose, born a conniving, chip-on-the- shoulder bastard.
Bastardy base? Base?
Briggs bought it, to use the lexicon you adopt when you see much random death. There wasn’t a lot of him left either. He was what they call “remains.” That doesn’t matter, does it? Whether there’s 98 percent of you intact or 32 percent. No open casket for him, if you like an open casket, and a lot of people do, death looking sort of rosy and peaceful, a time-out after the end of time. It’s hard to make up for the missing 68 percent, though you never want to underestimate modern technology. I remember a lot of deaths, some miscellaneous, some not. Some I heard about second- and third- and fourth-hand as facts became legends but they still got inside me.
Did you hear? Dost thou know me