Yellow Birds, The dave T All Quiet in Northern Iraq… Author: When it comes to wars and the foreign lands that host them, most of us have to rely on the testimony of others to try and get a reliable picture of reality. Our narrator is twenty-one year-old Private John Bartle, who tells of the fighting for the city of Al Tafar in northern Iraq in the fall of
Army as a machine gunner in Tal Afar and Mosul, Iraq. Inhe published The Yellow Birds, a fictional account of his experience and an unflinching depiction of the reality of contemporary warfare. At the heart of the novel is the relationship between the level-headed protagonist Private Bartle and his gentler, more childish fellow soldier Murph; the story of their friendship amounts to a condensed exploration of the limits of loyalty in conflict.
Why did you enlist? I was 17, and I was a terrible student at school. I thought of it as something other people were able to do. I knew that I liked writing, but that felt meaningless.
My dad had served in the army, and both my grandfathers had served in the Second World War. I was fairly idealistic at the time.
The idea of service felt like a fair exchange: There was something attractive to me about that life. I wrote a lot of them before I started the novel, and some of them while I was writing it. Poetry was the beginning of my thinking, a way of asking, Is this even an answerable question?
How do I approach it? I wanted to be honest about both the experience and the difficulty of talking about it. In a lot of ways, the task at hand for any poem is to approach something that defies exactness or definition with a kind of exactness or precision.
Private Bartle, the protagonist of The Yellow Birds, appears in the title poem. Yes, that poem was a kind of germ. Later, I worked on poems just to give myself some space away from the novel—to shift into a new way of thinking about the material.
I felt like I wanted to use whatever resources I had available to me to come to some kind of conclusion. But guns are not ideas. You know, Charles Olson talks about this transfer of energy that happens between the writer and the reader of the poem.
Why do you think most people are less inclined to read poetry than prose? Was it hard to return to some of these experiences? Yeah, in some cases. But I think they do emerge more directly from my experience. Working on poems does require that kind of direct engagement. They do feel closer.
Writing that title poem was one of the rare times in my writing life where any part of the writing, whether it was a line or whatever, came very quickly.
Can you say a bit about why he is meaningful to you? I think it begins with admiration for the work that he does. But he was one of the first poets writing about war who I discovered afterwards.
It was important to me that here was a person trying to contend with this experience, and doing it in a way that was this powerful.
Which other poets writing about war have influenced you the most? Bruce Weigl, who writes about Vietnam. Let me ask you about geography.
You move around a lot in the collection, from Iraq to small-town America to New York and the Bronx, so that the overall impression is disparate and shifting.Apr 02, · Kevin Powers is also the author of the novel The Yellow Birds.
Christy Whitney/Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company The "Separation" here is both geographical and psychological: the yawning gulf between home and war fronts. A young man (Don Johnson) and his dog (Tiger, the dog actor) struggle for survival and encounter strife in a harsh, post-apocalyptic wasteland where food, water, .
The Yellow Birds is the debut novel from American writer, poet, and Iraq war veteran Kevin Powers. It was one of The New York Times's Most Notable Books of and a finalist for the National Book Award. It was awarded the The Guardian First Book Award, and the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award.
With profound emotional insight, especially into the effects of a hidden war on mothers and families at home, The Yellow Birds is a groundbreaking novel that is destined to become a classic. (From the publisher.) See the PBS interview with Kevin Powers about The Yellow Birds.
This Study Guide consists of approximately 44 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Yellow Birds. Private John Bartle is the novel’s main character and narrator.
Nine years after serving in the Iraq War, he. The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers is a tale of friendship, loss and redemption. Set against the Iraq War, events beyond their control or understanding forever intertwine three soldiers' lives.
Sergeant Sterling, a veteran of three tours of duty, tasks year-old Private John Bartle with guiding year-old Private Daniel Murphy, also known simply as .