war{n}pieces [BOOK REVIEW]

Like the indiscriminate fragmentation of a hand grenade, one lobbed into your lap, Leo Jenkin’s pen strikes out in all directions. This collection will make you experience life’s highs and lows right along with its author. It will make you uncomfortable- whether you are a curious reader, a bystander, or a combatant- no one can travel cover to cover unscathed. Take the poem “ILD,” it is one of the finest in the collection. It once again places Jenkins above the din of other warrior-turned-poets trying to be heard. It simultaneously critiques itself and the collective of writers that Jenkins is a part of.

War {n} Pieces doesn’t simply provide a glimpse into the author’s mind, it addresses issues shared by the human experience, like the "Posthumous Self-Indulgent Letter." A poem that tackles suicide, and in the short span of a single sentence will have you pinned by the throat. This poem seems like a perfect anti-suicide lifeline, hopefully tossed to a reader floundering in the waters of depression. It isn’t overtly critical of suicide victims, but Jenkins doesn’t let the dead off easy.

Another stand out piece, “Dear War,” is a personal letter of love and hate, with a semi-subtle nod to another giant among GWOT poets. Jenkins expertly lays bare this generation’s frustrations with our war and its aftermath. “It’s so hard being the one without a scar,” -damned if that doesn’t explain the unprecedented levels of PTSD diagnosis.  

War {n} Pieces also confronts the increasing divide of our two-party society. With the poem “Two Simple Things,” Jenkins reminds us of the importance of empathy and compassion, and how absurd our divisiveness has become. He concludes, "we are all a part of the same dying bird," perfectly simplifying the need to end hostilities.

I first cracked open the cover just as I lay in bed. From the edition notice to the last page, Jenkins had my undivided attention. Reading this book was one of those beautiful moments when your plans to catch up on sleep get thrown out the window, against your will, because the Art is so potent, and the words so damn good. At the risk of sounding hammy, I am sincere when I say War (n) Pieces is a masterpiece.

 

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Mac Caltrider is the creator of Pipes & Pages; a place that encourages readers of all levels to learn, discuss, and discover literature. Mac is a veteran of the Marine Corps and has contributed articles to Dead Reckoning Collective and OAF Nation. Additionally, his poetry was featured in the anthology, In Love… & War.


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