The Big Read Blog (Archive)

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June 11, 2009
Washington, DC

Warning: I?m currently reading The Things They Carried, so you?re probably going to be seeing more than a few related posts over the next few weeks. I am already completely gobsmacked by the opening section, not just the story, but the skillful use of rhythm and repetition to drive the narrative, a technique that has the poet in me quite envious.

Speaking of poetry, after reading the novel?s opening section, I found myself grabbing Yusef Komunyakaa?s Vietnam-themed poetry collection Dien Cai Dau off my shelf. According to the jacket copy, the future Pulitzer Prize winner served in Vietnam as correspondent and editor of The Southern Cross and received the Bronze Star. (Komunyakaa received NEA Literature fellowships in 1981 and 1988.)
Here are the closing lines of Komunyakaa?s poem ?Tunnels,? which echoes O?Brien?s narrative around tunnel missions in ?The Things They Carried.?

?. . . he goes, the good soldier,/on hands & knees, tunneling past/death sacked into a blind corner, loving the weight of the shotgun/that will someday dig his grave.?

Check out some other poems from Dien Cai Dau (and other works by Komunyakaa) at the University of North Carolina?s Internet Poetry Archive.

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