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Saturday, May 10, 2008

A modern poet looks back at the Civil War

Daniel Nathan Terry recently took a trip back into the world of the Civil War with soldiers and photographers, both real and imagined. His resulting book of poetry, entitled Capturing the Dead, has won the 2007 Stevens Poetry Manuscript Competition amidst high praise from the National Federation of State Poetry Societies.

The organization's April 2008 issue of Strophes announced Terry's win and described the nature of his work of poetry focusing on the Civil War:

[Capturing the Dead] is a sequence of dramatic lyrics in the imagined voices of Civil War soldiers and photographers, primarily that of a fictional war photographer named Noah Williams...

[Contest judge Jeff] Gundy has high praise for the manuscript he selected as winner of the 2007 Stevens Competition: “Among a very strong set of manuscripts, Capturing the Dead stood out for the clarity of its focus, the precision of its language, and the depth and subtlety of its emotional resonance.” He expresses great admiration for Terry’s “ability to create individual characters,” noting that figures both historical and invented, both obscure and famous, “take on weight and solidity, captured in words that emulate the precision of film.” Even more than this vividness, he admires the poems’ avoidance of claims of absolute truth, their “acute recognition of human subjectivity.” He sees Terry’s Capturing the Dead as belonging in the company of “other great sets of war poems from the last two centuries”: From Whitman’s Drum-Taps to Andrew Hudgins’ After the Lost War. Terry’s poems, he sums up, “offer both fidelity to history and relevance to our own predicament. They have much to teach us.”

Terry's poetry manuscript was chosen out of 201 submissions from both the U.S. and abroad. He is currently enrolled in the M.F.A. program at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. His book will be published by the National Federation of State Poetry Societies' Press and will be available for purchase in June 2008.

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