Pam Uschuk, Fort Lewis College associate professor of English and a working poet, recently won the Winning Writers 2011 War Poetry Contest. Her three poems, Horoscope, White Phosphorus After Hanukkah and The Taliban Takes Pakistan, received first-place awards.
Uschuks poems examined conflicts and the aftermath of conflicts from Africa to the Middle East to Asia. They also took a personal turn as she talked about the effects that war has had on her own family.
I come from a family with a strong military line, Uschuk said in a statement from the college.
My father, brother and nephew are veterans of three wars. Ive seen PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) up close, repeated and terrifying, she said. Wars end, but the family tragedy does not end. The human devastation goes on for generations.
Uschuks poetry appears in hundreds of publications worldwide. Her poems show a depth and sensitivity to their subjects, and this includes her three winners in the contest.
It is important to me that my poems not merely skate across a beautiful surface but rather that they strike deep into the matter, she said. I hope that my poems might affect some sort of positive change in the reader.
Uschuk and her husband are in Israel during the Thanksgiving holiday break to participate in the Shaar International Poetry Festival, which brings together artists from Muslim, Christian and Jewish cultures to help increase fellowship and understanding. The festival is sponsored by the Helicon Society for the Advancement of Poetry in Israel.
I am utterly grateful that my husband, poet William Pitt Root, and I were invited to the Shaar Poetry Festival, she said. It is a huge honor, and I am deeply humbled by it.