John Bensko

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Green Soldiers

Yale University Press 1981


Winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award
Judge Richard Hugo
Foreward by Richard Hugo


Green Soldiers was described by Richard Hugo as a book "filled with ancestors" in which voices and stories of earlier generations enter the poet and through an emotional process become part of the poet. He likens it to the process of psychoanalysis in which a person tells and retells stories that become who the person is. The lines between fact and fiction break down, and the emotional reality becomes the primary truth. So, as Hugo puts it, while "Bensko is a poet of the vivid and the real," . . . "his fictions . . . create a world where events are meaningless and the human consequences enormous." "Bensko is the fictions he creates."

The first half of the book contains primarily historical poems, several of which come from World War I. The second half contains more contemporary poems, and often deal with childhood vulnerability, or a childlike vulnerability in adults. The poems lead the reader to see how past and present influences in a life flow back and forth, continually casting each other in different lights.

Subjects: Federico Garcia Lorca, the Spanish Civil War, Granada Spain, World War I, The Great War, World War II, Troop trains, Racial segregation in wartime, PTSD, Amiens France, Navarre Beach, Drowning, Wilfred Owen, Sambre Canal, Gypsies, Gestapo, Holocaust, Mont-Saint-Michel, Dresden, Trout fishing, The Midnight Sun, Lazarus, Gas Victims in World War I, Chlorine Gas, Peanut vending machines, Night-Blooming Cactus, Greenhouses, Nuns, Voyeurs, Ghosts, Planetarium,

Selected Works

Poems
Winner of the Anita Claire Scharf Award University of Tampa Press
Winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award Described by Richard Hugo in the forward as a book about ancestors, the book explores the emotions of loss, separation, and isolation.
Poems give voice to the yearnings of a young husband, his wife, and the beachcombers and travelers along the Virginia and Florida coasts.
Narrative and lyrical poems about Alabama’s coal and steel-producing regions.
Fiction
Short stories linked by themes of pirates, storms, and coastal living.

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