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The Grief Muscles Paperback – December 9, 2014
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About the Author
BRANDON COURTNEY was born and raised in Iowa and served four years in the United States Navy (Operation Enduring Freedom). He is a graduate student at the University of Chicago.
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There are many gems, in this collection, many which perhaps began because the poet needed a place to sort and make sense of images and memories, but has become a well-crafted collection with a lot to teach. "Ezekiel" shows the intersection of faith, war and the altered landscape, while "Weights and Measures" shows a gruesome transformation both in the soldier and those sending the soldiers back. Courtney’s closing is appropriate, a short poem titled “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.” It is a subject many have attempted to write and knowing minds usually read them and nod. Other’s know the poems convey a powerful experience. Courtney stops short of attempting to be didactic, instead leaving us with a couple of painfully honest lines “the bandages won’t stop unraveling” and “I’ll never be the same.”
That will be the biggest takeaway from this book. It's honesty. Many books are being churned out about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, some to make a name for the publisher by copying a prescribed narrative, a few to give a raw, honest accounting of the war and how it pervades all aspects of the soldier's life. This book is the latter.