Where Honesty Never Ends.
One Year There by Robert Denis Holewinski
Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
The following poems are memories of the year 1968 in South Korea. They are memories of the soldiers assigned to my unit, located in a small outpost, hidden in the mountains of that country. These poems are snapshots of life on that nuclear missile base which was high on the North Korean list of targets. Indeed, we were always on the alert for possible infiltrators who had come into South Korea and who were expected to be heading toward our camp. Although these poems can be looked at as a military war story, there are no battles or heroes or military campaigns. Rather, these poems will show life in a small army base in Korea during a very anxious and confusing time, always with the constant possibility of a full scale war. That year was filled with news items about the two Koreas with the capture of the USS Pueblo by the North Koreans, her crew paraded through the news media, accused of being spies, then the killing of Robert Kennedy, and the killing of Martin Luther King. Also during that period, a team of 12 North Korean assassins got to within a few blocks of the South Korean presidential palace before being stopped. It was my intention in writing these poems that the reader could come away with a better understanding of what life was like in 1968 at an army base in South Korea. It was also my intention in writing these poems that I would purge the phantoms that have been dwelling inside me since living “One Year There.”
Today, on this segment of Truth on the Side, Mini Truth endeavors to tell us her thoughts on “One Year There” by Robert Denis Holewinski.
“One Year There” is a very authentically written poetic memoir about the author’s year in service in South Korea. It delineates occurrences which transpired during the author’s deployment and includes his feelings, thoughts and experiences.
Each “chapter” represents a chapter in the author’s life during the time he wrote the poem for that particular incident. The collection starts with an introduction that explains the poems and there are also some images that accompany some pieces.
The poetic style is very abstract and unique, which I believe speaks to the author’s individual reminiscence of each account.
Some of my favorite pieces include:
Chapter 2 — the printed headline
Chapter 7 — raining hard
Chapter 10 — a dismal machine gun
Chapter 47 — the helipad
The author’s style consists of no capitalization, lots of staccato stanzas, and askew linear verses. This may be something that some people may not comprehend, but if you put yourself inside of the author’s mind and think of the chaos that invades the human mind during times of war, the style will then make complete sense to you.
The feel of the collection is mostly somber, and often times tenebrous. This too makes sense when considering the time, place and ambiance which led to the writing of each piece.
Bluntly put, this collection is compelling yet subjective, and not made for the faint of heart. I recommend “One Year There” for the lover of poetry that is looking for a more insightful and factual experience at what it’s like to serve in the armed forces.
I bestow “One Year There” with 8.5 TRB Stars.
8.5 out of 10 Stars
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