‘war{n}pieces’: Poetry for the Man in the Trenches

September 16, 2020Luke Ryan
leo jenkins, dead reckoning collective, war poetry

Photo courtesy of Dead Reckoning Collective.

Veteran poetry is nothing new. From the ancient battlefields of China to the trenches of World War I to the mountains of Afghanistan, human beings have struggled to describe the indescribable through the medium of poetry.

Leo Jenkins is an accomplished modern war poet, though his poetry can hardly be pigeonholed to a firefight or a recounting of men charging a hill. He muses at the final moments of a life in combat as easily as the world to which warriors return. His poetry isn’t written in Latin metaphors, nor is it a cheap attempt at imitating William Shakespeare or Edgar Allen Poe — it’s written to elevate human thought, but for the man in the trenches as much as the student behind a desk.

Jenkins’ latest book of poetry, war{n}pieces, has just launched under the roof of veteran publishing company Dead Reckoning Collective.

leo jenkins, dead reckoning collective, war poetry
Photo courtesy of Dead Reckoning Collective.

What is war{n}pieces? It’s a book of poetry that may one day be read by scholars and professors, but if it were a letter, it would not be addressed to them. It’s written for all the men and women with dirt under their fingernails and a thirst in their minds. It’s written for a soldier whose body is scraping through the mud but whose mind desires to soar.

Jenkins comes at the subjects of war, Western culture, and veteran life from a unique perspective. His life did not end at the close of his military career — he’s written several books, poetry and otherwise, spent a good chunk of time living in a van, and now lives and writes in Mexico. He often scribbles his poetry into a notebook he keeps at his side as he heads from one off-the-grid place to the next.

“The beautiful thing about free-verse poetry is oftentimes I’m just following the pen and seeing where it goes,” Jenkins told Coffee or Die Magazine. “It’s an exercise in trusting the process. So with war{n}pieces, there’s an element of writing from a place of pure intuition.

leo jenkins, dead reckoning collective, war poetry

“Then when there are a hundred or more poems laid out in front, the analytical storyteller comes out. How to arrange these pieces so they create an arc, an experience, for the reader. It’s like a collage of a hundred different snapshot images arranged in a way that the viewer can see the bigger picture from the smaller images and still enjoy the smaller images simultaneously. That presents a completely different challenge than the challenge of writing a novel. And I love a challenge.”

I was a fan of Leo before DRC (Dead Reckoning Collective) was a thing,” said Tyler Carroll, a co-founder of Dead Reckoning Collective. “We got to work on ILAW (In Love… &War) a little together, but that anthology was bigger than any of us. war{n}pieces is a very intimate look into Leo’s mind and life. Starting as a fan, then developing a working relationship, to now I’d like to think as a friend has been an incredible honor.”

Carroll added, “war{n}pieces is an intimate look into Leo’s mind and life, and for me to have a front row seat to that was inspiring.”

If you want a book of poetry that explores life at its most raw in an experienced voice, look no further. war{n}pieces will illuminate the strong and broken places in your own mind, it will encourage you to pursue fresh, new perspectives in life, and it’ll offer you a refreshing take on poetry that elevates the mind but is accessible to the average businessman, nomad, or soldier.

Signed copies of war{n}pieces are currently available for preorder at Dead Reckoning Collective.

Luke Ryan
Luke Ryan

Luke Ryan is the author of two books of war poetry: The Gun and the Scythe and A Moment of Violence. Luke grew up overseas in Pakistan and Thailand, the son of aid workers. Later, he served as an Army Ranger and conducted four deployments to Afghanistan, leaving as a team leader. He has published over 600 written works on a variety of platforms, including the New York Times.

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