Koa Books

Veterans of War
Veterans of Peace

Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace
Author Biographies
(alphabetical order - click on letter)

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A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | R | S | T | U | W | Y | Z

The first recipient of the Edith Wharton Citation of Merit, was born in the Bronx in 1922. She is the author of three highly acclaimed collections of short fiction-- The Little Disturbances of Man (1959), Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1974), and Later the Same Day (1985)--as well as three collections of poetry, including Leaning Forward , also published in 1985. Ms. Paley has taught at Columbia and Syracuse Universities , and currently teaches at both City College of New York, where she is writer-in-residence, and Sarah Lawrence College , where she has taught creative writing and literature for 18 years. She received a Guggenheim fellowship in 1961, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1966, and an award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1970. She is a member of the Executive Board of P.E.N.

Actively involved in anti-war, feminist and anti-nuclear movements, Ms. Paley has been a member of the War Resisters' League, Resist, and Women's Pentagon Action, and was one of the founders of the Greenwich Village Peace Center in 1961; she regards herself as a "somewhat combative pacifist and cooperative anarchist." Ms. Paley has two children and one grandchild, and divides her time between New York City and Thetford Hill , Vermont .

In Spring 1987, Ms. Paley was awarded a Senior Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts, in recognition of her lifetime contribution to literature.

I’m almost sixty now. In 1968, I was a twenty-one-year-old infantry lieutenant, leading a combat platoon in Vietnam. I’ve been actively examining, creating, and recovering my life ever since. I live in a small cabin near the ocean in northern California and can see salt water from the window of my writing studio. I’m retired. I receive a small amount of money each month from the Veterans Administration for Post-Traumatic Stress difficulties. It helps and is a blessing. When I have worked in my life, it has often been as a window washer. This memoir is a more or less accurate account of one such workday. I have an eleven-year-old son who often hangs over my shoulder as I write. We talk about Vietnam and much else.

Three photos follow my poem. The first is of me as I looked in Vietnam, taken by a local Vietnamese photographer in his village studio. The second is a self-portrait, taken when I was thirty and just beginning to examine my life. The third was taken recently by my Vietnam vet friend, Ben Benet, and is how I look today. My window washing memoir comes next, followed by a short epilogue that addresses some of the memoir’s deeper truths and how I hope, one day, to write about them. My next piece will deal with my father’s World War II combat traumas and the way his war memories affected both of our lives. I’ve been a member of Maxine Hong Kingston’s Veteran Writer’s Group for almost ten years. It, too, is a blessing.

The first thing I ever remember hearing about the Korean War, though I didn’t know what it was I was hearing at the time, was the bodies. In matters of war, the bodies usually are the end product, but to me they were the beginning. I overheard a conversation between my dad and a priest about a battlefield of the dead. Sometimes it seems that the dead do not haunt the living, but that we haunt them. We worry about where they rest, how they rest, and if they are resting. Writing captures ghosts and makes them physical.

After a lot of different grinds of life, I find myself living back on the central coast of California with my two red-haired boys and my loving wife, Jennie. Many late nights working on these writings have passed; I have been preparing for them all my life.

During the late ’80s and early ’90s, I found myself in the Marine Reserves in Los Angeles in an artillery battery. “Graves Reg” does not so much seek to honor the dead as much as those night-shifters who dug to bring them back home. Dig on.